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Slaughtered for style: Film ‘SLAY’ exposes animal cruelty in fashion

Slaughtered for style: Film ‘SLAY’ exposes animal cruelty in fashion

For many of us, animal trims in fashion are part of daily dressing. From leather shoes to fur trims on coats, animal-derived materials are, quite literally, everywhere. However, have you ever thought about where these materials truly come from? New feature film SLAY is now calling out the fur, wool and leather industries for their greenwashing and unethical treatment of animals. 

The film, which follows producer Rebecca Cappelli across five continents, investigates the fashion industries widespread use of animal skins. Produced by Keegan Kuhn, it zooms in on the essential (and uncomfortable) question: is it acceptable to kill animals for fashion?

Models walking down a runway in leather and animal skins, captured for SLAY film
From fast to luxury, brands use a huge proportion of animal skins every year

Farmed for fashion

To meet high production demands—which have doubled since 2000—the fashion industry use a significant quantity of animal skins. According to Good On You, it’s estimated that 68% of fashion brands currently include animal-derived products in their collections. Overall, it’s estimated that 2.5 billion animals are killed each year to make clothes and accessories.

Three years in the making, the SLAY documentary unveils the disturbing reality for animals within factories and tanneries. It also features opinions from thought leaders like sustainability activist Bandana Tewari, director of Collective Fashion Justice Emma Håkansson and vegan educator Ed Winters aka Earthling Ed.

From water contamination to modern-day slavery, greenwashing to deforestation, Cappelli hopes her film will debunk the argument that fur is a more sustainable product and spotlight the animals which are abused and forgotten by both brands and–often unwittingly–by consumers.  

“SLAY aims to challenge the notion that animal skins are a fabric,’ shares Cappelli. “We hope to open people’s eyes to the dark reality behind some of the most sought after skins in fashion.” 

Foxes and raccoon dogs in cages stare at the camera, Hebei Province, China © SLAY

Alternatives to animal materials

Beyond uncovering the immoral treatment of animals within the fashion supply chain, the documentary also looks to the future, spotlighting the rise of alternative and plant-based materials that respect people, planet and animals. The film SLAY mentions the work of brands like Corkor, Desserto and Stella McCartney. All brands have made commitments to animal-free options like cacti, cork and mushroom leather. 

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Virtual dress by Republiqe fitted onto the image of a model posing

Fortunately for us, there are now more and more growing environmentally sustainable and animal-friendly alternatives available out there to support. There’s animal-free leather made from pineapple leaves, mushrooms or apples, to plant-based wool grown from flowers. What’s clear? We’ll definitely see more designers adopting more ethical versions in future. 

“The leather, fur and wool industries are some of the most profitable, polluting industries in the world. Shifting to non-animal products is key for a more sustainable future,” says Cappelli.

The SLAY film is available on WaterBear, a free environmentally conscious streaming platform that is dedicated to the future of our planet. Watch the trailer here

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