Donna Karan: “Bunny Butcher”
In 2010, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) garnered media attention by protesting the Donna Karan fashion company’s use of rabbit fur. Karan’s company (DKNY, a fashion subsidiary of Moët Hennessy) had previously been the focus of criticism from PETA. Several years earlier, PETA had tried to meet with Donna Karan to convince her to suspend the use of real fur in her company’s clothing. Many other high-end fashion companies, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and others had joined PETA’s ranks as PETA-approved fashion retailers, endorsing fur-free practices. DKNY, however, did not consistently participate in a PETA-approved production agenda. PETA claimed that, on repeated occasions in 2008 and 2009, DKNY had promised PETA that they would remove fur from their fashion lines, but then DKNY had failed to follow through. As a result, the high-end fashion brand became the target of a PETA-driven, viral campaign that harshly criticized the company’s use of farmed fur and labeled Donna Karan herself as a “Bunny Butcher.”
DKNY used rabbit fur and skins in various items of clothing and accessories, from the fur lining in hoods and boots to the leather on bags and shoes. PETA claimed the fur and leather farmed for these purposes was obtained from factory farms operating under inhumane conditions. According to PETA, the animals on Chinese fur farms are penned in cages without fresh air, sanitation, water, or light, conditions that take a mental and physical toll on the animals. When the animals are skinned, they are often improperly anaesthetized. Accounts have surfaced of Chinese factories that simply beat the animals over the head before beginning the skinning process. Allegedly, many animals are still alive during the skinning process and are then thrown onto piles of carcasses. Another claim was that cat and dog fur are often used to supplement the rabbit fur when factories have reason to believe that the skins will not be properly inspected.
Making strategic use of social media, PETA timed its protest on DKNY’s Facebook page for an important marketing period, so-called Cyber Monday. PETA posted the message “DKNY: Bunny Butchers” among DKNY’s Facebook comments.1 The innovative use of social media for protest purposes drew substantial media coverage. Despite the protest, according to PETA, DKNY did not alter their fur usage practices. Consequently, PETA maintained an ongoing Internet-based protest by creating the website DKBunnyButcher.com. The website, which features links to supportive videos from fashion celebrities such as Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, describes in gruesome details the practices of the fur-farming industry in China. Many fur producing operations in the United States and Europe have become less competitive in global markets due to high production costs and the tightening of legislation on fur trapping and skinning. China has subsequently stepped in as the world’s top fur exporter in the world, but not without allegations of inconsistent quality and inhumane production methods.
This chapter will ask the question, what is the role of CSR in regard to animal rights? Should fashion companies only source products from humane farms, or should they even stop using animal products at all? While many consumers may feel sympathy for a tortured rabbit, the fact remains that the majority of Americans consume meat products such as beef and pork. Leather from cows remains the preferred material for shoes, belts, and handbags. Is it hypocritical to stand up for the rights of cute animals like bunnies, dogs, baby seals, and dolphins, all while preparing to eat a bacon burger? In addition to fashion, many other industries must contend with the issue of animal rights. Businesses that are dependent on medical and scientific research, such as pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies, have been forced to implement policies and reviews to determine whether the laboratory animals they use for testing purposes are treated humanely.
Clearly, the issue of animal rights is a broad one that cannot be confined to a discussion of Chinese fur factories. Many other countries, including the United States, have been accused of lax regulation of factory farming of animal products. According to Factory Farm Map, there are four factory-farmed chickens for every single American.2 US commercial livestock and poultry operations produce three times more waste a year than that produced by the entire human population.3 The environmental toll of such methods is worrisome, but so are the potential health consequences of consuming factory farmed meat. Consumer advocates have suggested that the meat produced on factory farms is often tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Infection caused by such bacteria cannot be treated by current medicines and thus may pose a looming threat to both animals and humans.4 However, before exploring the ethical dilemmas that may be faced by a specific company in choosing how to make use of animal products, let us examine the ethical framework of the animal rights movement.
The Development of Animal Ethics and Rights
The awakening of a consciousness of animal rights began as early as the seventeenth century. Diane Beers, an animal rights activist and historian, cites examples of animal rights principles held by the first Puritan immigrants to America.5 Puritan theology accorded sanctity to the realm of animals, but the people felt that the fair treatment of animals was the sole responsibility of their owners. Anyone who did not own a particular animal did not have a right to mistreat it. Further, the Puritans believed that owners of animals had no right to abuse their investment, as this was considered un-Christian and immoral. These principles of animal rights were based on a moral hierarchy that held humans to be more deserving of rights and privileges than animals. The privileges of humanity came, in the Puritan view, from a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual superiority. The Puritans’ initial attempt to curb animal abuse and/or provide animal rights is considered by Beers a great step forward, though limited by its conception of humans as special creatures in the eyes of God.
Animal rights historians often point to the mid-eighteenth century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham as the founding ethicist of the modern animal rights movement. Bentham, known for the utilitarian philosophy that would later become associated with his protégé John Stuart Mill, believed that ethical decisions should be based on what allows the most good or happiness (and least suffering) to the largest number of people. Bentham’s utilitarianism assumed that all human individuals are equal from a moral point of view. In fact, Bentham went further and posited that all living creatures were equal in terms of this principle. This egalitarian principle was influential in the struggles for abolition of slavery and universal suffrage, but also served as a cornerstone of modern conceptions of animal ethics.
In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Bentham stated: “The day may come, when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny…. The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”6 Bentham’s approach led many citizens to consider for the first time the ethical imperative to limit the suffering of animals. Bentham’s thinking prompted the creation of Britain’s Society for Prevention of Animal Cruelty (SPCA, later the Royal SPCA, or RSPCA), and the adoption of the first laws curbing animal mistreatment in England throughout the 1830s–1850s.
The United States eventually followed the lead taken by England in animal rights, as it had with the earlier abolitionist movements and suffrage movements. The first major American animal rights group, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), was created in 1866 by Henry Bergh.7 This nascent movement was further strengthened by Charles Darwin’s publication of Origin of the Species and the resultant acceptance of the theory of evolution. Darwin’s hypothesis that humans had evolved from primitive life forms gave credence to the notion that humans were not essentially superior to other members of the natural world. The impact of Darwinian theory on philosophy and theology challenged the traditionally held view of a hierarchy among species, according to which humans were superior to other animals. The Darwinian revolution paved the way for a more open-ended approach to rights (for humans and animals alike).
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, activist groups in the United Kingdom and United States promoted the fair treatment of domesticated animals. This activism reflected a broader social trend toward recognition of the need for fair treatment across social and biological categories, and in particular recognized the rights of laborers, women, and children. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), a novel describing the violent and unclean practices of the Chicago meat industry, was notably influential in this regard. The Jungle drew public attention to labor abuses in the meat industry, and also to the horrors of the slaughterhouse floor.
Animal Liberation: The Contribution of Peter Singer
The contemporary animal rights movement received an important impetus from the publication in 1975 of a book entitled Animal Liberation by Australian philosopher Peter Singer. Singer extended Bentham’s utilitarian ethics to include animals, arguing that just because animals cannot think on the same level as humans does not mean they cannot suffer. He pointed out that in the case of mentally handicapped people, as with small infants, the lack of cognitive capacity does not imply that they do not deserve the same caring treatment as other humans. The fact that animals react to pain and torture with writhing or whining suggests that they experience suffering in much the same way that humans do. The suffering communicated by animals does not have to be expressed linguistically to be understood. Singer applied the term speciesism, which had been coined by Richard Ryder, to the unjustifiable discrimination against animals by humans, reminiscent of racism, sexism, and other forms of intolerance.
Singer argued that speciesism, like racism and sexism, is based on an indefensible and biased preference for one’s own kind. Speciesism is expressed in the assumption that animals can be exploited to provide benefits to humans without regard to the suffering or well-being of animals. In Singer’s view, overcoming speciesism will require the progressive elimination of cruelty in animal experimentation, the eradication of factory farming practices, and the end of consumption of meat as a consumer good. While Singer acknowledges that it is theoretically possible to raise animals humanely, he argues that such farming is extremely uncommon and that it is better simply to move to a vegetarian diet. Singer’s radical argument has been labeled the “rights/abolitionist” doctrine of animal ethics.8
Rights/abolitionists believe that humans have no moral right to slaughter, domesticate, or use animals for pleasure or consumption in any way. This implies that animals should be left in a state of nature and allowed to lead lives free of impact from human society. A different and more moderate faction of animal ethicists are the so-called welfarists, who seek to recognize and protect animal welfare within the current system of consumption. Welfarists believe that animals may ethically be used for human benefit, so long as they are treated humanely and fairly. The welfarist perspective implicitly assumes that human rights and interests are entitled to some sort of intrinsic superiority over the rights and interests of animals.
The most important American activist group that has adopted a rights/abolitionist perspective is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a nonprofit founded in 1980 with the goal of preventing animals from being abused and tortured in any way, whether via factory farming, the fashion industry, labs and scientific research, or the entertainment industry.9 PETA has become known for its highly publicized and sometimes aggressive actions and campaigns. The organization has achieved recognition as the primary face of the animal rights movement today and, as such, has taken on the responsibility of publicly castigating those businesses that fail to exercise humane treatment of animals.
As of 2007, approximately 56 billion animals were being slaughtered annually worldwide for human consumption.10 Most of these were harvested in factory farm settings. These numbers do not take into account the vast number of fish and other sea creatures that are caught for industrial use or consumption as food.11 United States growers annually slaughter some 9 billion chickens, 99 percent of which are raised in factory-farm conditions. For the chickens, factory-farm conditions include preventative beak clipping (to quell cannibalism in tight quarters), unsanitary and overcrowded cages, injections of antibiotics and hormones to augment and accelerate weight gain, and little or no lighting.12 Due to the high demand for chicken and eggs as consumer goods, the production of broiler chickens and laying chickens is a high-volume endeavor. Worldwide, 31 billion chickens are slaughtered annually,13 most of them under conditions similar to those found in the US farms.
As of 2011, 5.8 million pigs were bred for slaughter in the United States.14 The factory farming of pigs requires a life of solitary confinement for each mother sow, who spends most of her life in a gestation cage that prevents movement and waste removal, leading to widespread respiratory diseases. Sows are moved to a farrowing cage after the birth of their litters, where they cannot turn around or lie down while their young feed off of them. The piglets are taken from the mother sow’s farrowing cage after about 3 weeks of initial feeding, and are then moved to group pens. There, they are fed until they reach market weight (a period of roughly 6 months), at which time they are brought to slaughter. Following the production of 2 to 3 litters, the mother sow is also taken to slaughter, usually about a year after she is brought to the factory farm.15
Cattle production for beef, the most expensive of the meat-producing industries, is somewhat more humane, despite the large numbers involved (upwards of 34.2 million cows slaughtered for meat in 2010 alone).16 Cattle raised for beef are allowed to roam somewhat freely in open spaces. They are still penned in and fed hormones, and put on a rigorous diet to gain weight. US dairy-producing cows, numbering 9.3 million in 2008, with roughly 2.3 million of these being sent to slaughter,17 share a fate similar to that of pigs and chickens. They are kept in tightly penned cages, fed hormones, and milked by machine until they are no longer viable. Additionally, both modes of cattle production can cause serious environmental harm to the areas surrounding the farm. The enormous production of manure can contaminate groundwater and render surrounding areas unlivable.
Wool, fur, leather, angora, silk, feathers, and other materials are all harvested from various types of animals, and are prominent resources in the fashion industry.18 Although many people can understand the ethical issues inherent in the factory farming of meat for consumption, most consumers do not feel similar concerns for the materials used to make clothing, especially when, as in the case of wool, silk, or feathers, it does not seem necessary to slaughter the animal to obtain the material. However, such materials are also developed and sourced under factory farming conditions. As reported by PETA, wool farmers routinely practice mulesing,19 which involves shearing sheep so close to the skin that the shears cut or remove chunks of hide and flesh in the process. Cows and all other kinds of animals are utilized for their leather. A high percentage of the leather apparel items sold in the United States are manufactured from leather that was harvested abroad. China, the world’s leading leather exporter, has been criticized for poor supervision of factory farms, where animals are not properly anaesthetized before they are skinned.
Animal Consumption in Research and Cosmetics
Approximately 100 million animals a year are killed as a result of cosmetic, medical, and scientific experimentation in the United States alone.20 Though laboratory animals are generally euthanized following the completion of the experiment or trial, it is not uncommon for many to die in the testing process. These tests include skin and eye irritation tests, repeated force feeding, “lethal dose” injection tests, vivisection, bone-breaking, paralyzing, and infection with disease.21 Though ultimately these tests are meant to benefit mankind, even proponents of animal testing for scientific benefits admit that experiments are only beneficial in some cases. According to DoSomething.org, “92 percent of experimental drugs that are safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials because they are too dangerous or don’t work.”22 The large margin of error in the trials and experimentations suggests that many laboratory animals experience great suffering for relatively little benefit to humans.
Proposed Solutions: Vegetarianism, Ecofarming, and Cruelty-Free Production
Animal activist groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have been successful in promoting laws and codes of best practices to curb the incidence of factory farming and laboratory experimentation abuse. However, it is generally accepted that the most powerful long-term solution would be market based, in which consumers who are dissatisfied with factory farming methods turn to alternative sources of food, cosmetics, and clothing. For this reason, one of PETA’s principal goals is to raise awareness of the abuses that occur in factory farming, so that consumers will be motivated to seek alternatives. Let us consider some of the leading alternatives.
Given that the principal commercial product of factory farms consists of food for human consumption, it is often argued that consumers who are concerned about animal rights should adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. A vegetarian diet is one that does not contain any meat or fish products, while a vegan diet is free of all animal products, including milk, eggs, and cheese. A 2012 Gallup Poll found that 5% of Americans identify as vegetarian and 2% as vegan.23 This appeared to indicate a broad and continuing social trend, as only 1% of Americans had identified as vegetarian in 1971 and only 3% in 2009.24 When asked why they are vegetarians, about half of survey respondents cite health reasons, and roughly the same percentage also cites animal welfare concerns. India is generally considered to be the country with the highest percentage of vegetarians, with various studies putting the percentage of Indian vegetarians at 20 to 40 percent of the population; it also appears that Indians who do eat meat do so infrequently compared to citizens of other countries. In Europe, the highest percentage of vegetarians is found in Italy, at 10 percent, while in France the percentage is only 1.5 percent. It appears that women tend to adopt vegetarianism more often than men, with studies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel reporting that 60 percent or more of vegetarians were female.
Given that a relatively small percentage of Americans identifies as vegetarian, and that roughly half of these cite health concerns as their primary motivation, it should not be surprising that vegetarian or vegan clothing remains a marginal, niche category. Despite this, there is some evidence that the category is growing. For example, fashion designer Stella McCartney has developed a thriving, global brand that produces clothing, shoes, and handbags without any use of leather or fur. However, she does use wool and silk products. MooShoes, a New York retailer, markets a full line of vegan clothing, including shoes, shirts, bags, wallets and belts; these products are sourced from a number of independent producers, including such recognized brand names as Brooks and Doc Martens.
Cruelty-free products are those that are not tested on animals and do not include animal ingredients. Methods of cruelty-free production rely on alternative testing methods, such as computer-based simulations. Another method is to develop new products only from ingredients referenced in a large European database of 20,000 compounds that have already been tested as safe. Another method is to test products on reconstructed human skin samples made from donated skin from cosmetic surgeries. Leading cruelty-free cosmetics brands include Aveda, M.A.C., Bobbi Brown, and Urban Decay.
Humane Farming and Meat Consumption
Given that relatively few consumers are vegetarian or vegan, while many others who are sensitive to animal rights nonetheless find it difficult to give up the consumption of meat, the alternative of humane farming is significant. Humane farming refers to animal husbandry that respects codes of conduct so that animals are raised and slaughtered in a way to minimize suffering. For example, the popular Whole Foods supermarket chain has adopted the Animal Welfare Rating Standards developed by the Global Animal Partnership in order to source meat products from humane producers. According to these standards, animals must be given space to move around, have access to outdoor areas, must be permitted natural behavior such as wallowing for pigs or pecking for chickens, and must spend their entire lives on a single farm. Another humane farming group, Humane Farm Animal Care, provides a certification to farmers and producers who comply with similar standards, and who abide by the American Meat Institute Standards for slaughtering. Such standards provide, for example, that animals must be stunned in a way that eliminates pain prior to slaughtering.
Topic for Debate: Fashion and Animal Rights
This chapter’s debate is based on a difficult decision to be made by EcoFash, Inc., a rapidly growing fictional clothing company based in Brooklyn, New York.
EcoFash began in 1998 as a line of organic cotton T-shirts featuring slogans with progressive statements, and has grown to include jeans, backpacks, sweatshirts, and baseball caps. All of the materials used are organic natural fabrics or recycled polyester. The company has thirty-two employees and is billing over $20 million annually in sales. Recently, an infusion of capital from a new investor has permitted the company to begin planning an expansion of its product line to include shoes, jackets, and handbags.
Brenda Cordaro, the founder and principal owner of the company, is a confirmed vegetarian (and supporter of animal rights organizations like PETA) and would like to consider making the new lines vegan—meaning, free of leather, fur, wool, or silk materials. However, she has encountered vigorous opposition from her chief designer, Tessa Novak, who is horrified at the thought of having to use fake leather and imitation-silk polyester, which she finds quite ugly. Tessa’s objection to a vegan approach has received strong support from the company’s financial director, who believes the company will not be able to maximize profits if it only tries to attract customers who are willing to accept synthetic products in place of leather and wool.
On the other hand, Brenda is supported by the company director of public relations and marketing, who believes that a vegan approach will allow the company to distinguish itself from other “hipster” brands.
Brenda therefore decides to request her staff to prepare the strongest arguments on both sides for a presentation to her board of directors and the new investors.
You have been asked to develop the strongest reasons for supporting one of the following two possible responses:
EcoFash, Inc., should adopt a vegan-only policy.
- The vegan option is in keeping with the company’s ethical founding principles.
- It would allow the company to support animal rights.
- It would allow the company to distinguish itself from competitors.
EcoFash, Inc., should not adopt a vegan-only policy
- A vegan option would restrict design creativity.
- A vegan option would lead to unattractive or expensive products.
- A vegan option would reduce the size of the potential market for the brand in the future.
12.1. Facts on Fur Farming
“Responsible Trade.” WeAreFur, in association with the International Fur Federation. Accessed October 12, 2013. http://www.wearefur.com/our-trade/ethics/.
Animal Welfare Is at the Heart of Fur Farming
Animals are farmed for many reasons: for meat, dairy, leather, wool, sheepskin, cashmere, silk, and fur. It is the responsibility of those who farm animals to ensure that the animals in their care are treated humanely. This responsibility is taken very seriously by fur farmers.
Eighty-five percent of fur sold internationally is farmed. Fur animals have been selectively bred for over 100 years and are not the same as their wild counterparts. Not only are there laws, regulations, and industry codes of practice and farm certification programmes that govern animal welfare on fur farms, but an animal’s health shows in its fur first—so it is in everyone’s interest to look after animals well…. Animal welfare is at the heart of fur farming and in every jurisdiction there are laws or regulations governing animal welfare. Farmers themselves encourage governments to implement animal welfare regulations which are based on scientific research and in the major fur farming countries farmers work with veterinary scientists to create voluntary standards and certification programmes—for example the Welfur programme in the EU….
Fur farming is an important part of local agricultural economies. Fur farms are particularly suited for remote northern climates where arable land is at a premium and a great many fur farms support families and communities in rural areas where the climate and environment make it difficult to farm many species….
…Animals have always provided us with food and clothing—from the earliest arrival of Homo sapiens we have hunted animals. The earliest settlements were made possible through farming of livestock and crops, and various animal species have been farmed over thousands of generations….
In modern times, numerous life-saving medical advances have been made possible only through being able to test procedures and drugs on animals. Many people derive a huge amount of comfort and affection from keeping pets….
A Note on Animal Rights:
Animal rights supporters believe that animals have the same legal and moral rights as human beings and that therefore humans cannot keep, use or manage animals, for any purpose, including medical research, farming/farmed animals, meat, milk and eggs (including organic), hunting and fishing, leather and fur (including snakeskin, crocodile, etc.), wool, cashmere, pashmina, angora, silk, zoos/circuses/animal shelters/pets and horse-drawn carriages/ploughs, etc….
The IFTF and its members believe that people have a democratic right to make their own decisions about what to do for a legitimate living, what to eat, and what to wear; people should not have to live in a world where a major lifestyle choice is removed altogether.
Fur farming is well regulated and operates within the highest standards of care.
In the European Union, Council Directive 98/58 sets down rules covering the welfare of all farmed animals, including fur-farmed animals. Directive 93/119 deals with the slaughter and killing of fur and other farmed animals. Additionally, the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation, revised in 1999, designed to ensure the health and welfare of farmed fur animals….
In North America, fur farmers also follow strict Codes of Practice and conform to provincial, state, or national animal welfare and other regulations. Regular veterinary checks are carried out in accordance with industry guidelines, provincial, state, or national requirements….
Conditions on farms are thoroughly checked and advice on improvements given when required. Many farm associations also have voluntary certification programmes in place.
Hunters and Trappers
Wild fur-bearing animals have been always been hunted or trapped by man. The ability to hunt animals as well as forage for food is a defining characteristic of Homo sapiens. Using fur from hunted animals as protection from the elements is an equally ancient characteristic. Man’s earliest tools were created for hunting and skinning animals.
Today, wild fur-bearing animals are hunted or trapped for a variety of reasons including population management, pest control, and the protection of natural habitats, in addition for food and fur. The trade in wild fur is a good example of the “sustainable use” principle of conservation—fundamental to the work of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN), and the United Nations Environment Programme. The International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) and the Fur Institute of Canada are voting members of the IUCN….
…The sale of this precious commodity provides an important source of income for communities living in remote and economically marginal areas and for indigenous peoples such as the Cree community of North America, Inuit of Canada and Greenland, or the Sami of Northern Finland and Russia. Hunting and trapping for these communities is a way of life and continuing to trade fur is part of their rich heritage.
…No endangered species are used in the wild fur trade; the fur trade was a very early supporter of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and promotes the implementation of this vital trade agreement by governments.
…The fur trade comprises hunting communities and many small farms and family businesses, craftsmen and women, manufacturers, dressing companies, co-operatively owned or publicly floated auction houses, designers, and retailers. It is a small but global industry. Worldwide retail turnover in 2008 was just over US $13 billion.
The fur trade provides jobs and cash income in remote, hard to farm areas such as the deserts of Namibia, the ice floes and fjords of the Arctic Circle, the great wilderness of North America as well as being ideal for the small, family run farming economies of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States….
12.2. Inside the Fur Industry: Factory Farms
“Inside the Fur Industry: Factory Farms.” PETA. Accessed October 23, 2013. http://www.peta.org/issues/Animals-Used-for-Clothing/inside-the-fur-industry-factory-farms.aspx
12.3. Handbag Line Freedom of Animals Serves Up a Cruelty-Free Alternative to Céline
Hoff, Victoria. “Handbag Line Freedom of Animals Serves Up a Cruelty-Free Alternative to Céline.” Elle. October 8, 2013. http://www.elle.com/news/fashion-accessories/freedom-of-animals-eco-friendly-handbags.
Creating fashion that is kind to the environment is no easy feat. Labels like Stella McCartney and Matt & Nat have already paved the way for vegan accessories, and Freedom of Animals follows suit, adding to the cruelty-free conversation with a line of luxury bags.
The label was founded in 2012 by stylist Morgan Bogle and her photographer boyfriend Scott MacDonough—and trust us, these well-crafted carriers could easily pass for high-quality leather. The couple’s journey to green fashion design began just a year and a half ago. “We got to the point where we felt that all our volunteering with animals—taking dogs in and working at wildlife sanctuaries—wasn’t enough,” Bogle told us. As they brainstormed ways to be more vocal about their passion, they realized fashion was a great platform—and it didn’t hurt that their day jobs gave them a leg up in understanding the industry.
Citing McCartney, Céline, and The Row as design inspiration, the duo decided to tackle accessories, since animal skin is generally the go-to material for bags and shoes. But they upped the ante even more when they agreed to also stand by a one hundred percent sustainable MO. Not only is the faux-leather composed of recycled plastic and organic cotton, the accessories are colored with vegetable-based dyes. Still, it’s clear that the couple remains as devoted to style as they do to ethics—take an exclusive look at a backpack from the label’s upcoming resort collection, below, and we think you’ll agree.
Bogle told us more about the brand’s mission, her favorite eco-chic boutiques, and what it’s like for her and MacDonough to count Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Sarah Jessica Parker as brand fans.
Have you always had a soft spot for animals?
I was raised vegetarian and have always been super conscious of being ethical in every part of my life, so the passion for cruelty-free came from a very early age.
Faux leather can look tacky or unrealistic. How do you manage to achieve such amazing texture?
We spent a long time sourcing our materials and are so grateful to have found the most luxurious fabrications around! This was an area that we could not compromise, and we have been highly critical of the texture and touch of each element. Not only are they luxurious, but they pass US durability testing to give them a long shelf life.
- Does reading this chapter make you less likely to buy leather and fur products, or not? Why or why not?
- Does reading this chapter make you more likely to go vegetarian in your food consumption (if you are not already), or not? Why or why not?
- Do you feel that consumption of meat and use of leather and fur are “natural” and therefore acceptable? Why or why not?
- Does an “ethical” company owe any duty to animals, or are ethical duties only owed to humans?
1. Paul Bigus and Michael Sider, “Bunny Butcher: PETA Protests Donna Karan New York,” Ivey Publishing: London, Canada. October 7, 2011. p. 1.
2. “United States Facts,” Factory Farm Map, accessed October 24, 2013, http://www.factoryfarmmap.org/states/us/.
4. For more information on the contemporary perils of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farmed meat, see Richard Knox, “How Using Antibiotics in Animal Feed Creates Superbugs,” The Salt (blog), NPR, February 12, 2012, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/21/147190101/how-using-antibiotics-in-animal-feed-creates-superbugs.
5. Diane Beers, “A Movement Takes Shape,” pp 19-38, For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States. Ohio University Press: 2006.
6. Bentham, Jeremy, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. p. 21. Library of Economics and Liberty. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907. Accessed Nov. 26 2014. http://www.econlib.org/library/Bentham/bnthPML.html
7. “About Us,” ASPCA, accessed October 11, 2013, http://www.aspca.org/about-us/about-the-aspca.
8. Based on criteria discussed in Gary L. Francione and Robert Garner, “The Abolition of Animal Exploitation,” chap 1 in Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? , 1–6. Columbia University Press, 2010.
9. “About PETA,” PETA, accessed October 9, 2013, http://www.peta.org/about/default.aspx.
10. “Meat Production Continues to Rise,” Worldwatch Institute, accessed October 14, 2013, http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5443.
11. “Food,” AnimalEquality, accessed October 12, 2013, http://www.animalequality.net/food.
12. Leah Garces, “Why We Haven’t Seen Inside a Broiler Chicken Factory Farm in a Decade,” Food Safety News, January 24, 2013, http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/why-we-havent-seen-inside-a-broiler-chicken-factory-farm-in-a-decade/#.UlR19mTF0gE.
14. “Pork Production on Factory Farms,” Farm Sanctuary, accessed October 12, 2013, http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/pigs-used-for-pork/.
16. “Factory Farming,” Farm Sanctuary, accessed October 22, 2013, http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/.
18. Ashlee Piper, “Fall Into Cruelty Free Fashion,” Vegucated, October 10, 2012, http://www.getvegucated.com/latests-challenges/fall-into-cruelty-free-fashion/.
19. “The Wool Industry,” PETA, accessed October 1, 2013, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry.aspx.
20. “Animal Experiments, Overview,” PETA, accessed October 1, 2013, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-experiments-overview.aspx.
21. “11 Facts About Animal Testing,” DoSomething.org, accessed October 2, 2013, https://www.dosomething.org/facts.
23. Newport, Frank. “In U.S., 5% Consider Themselves Vegetarians.” Gallup, July 26, 2012. http://www.gallup.com/poll/156215/consider-themselves-vegetarians.aspx
24. “The War on Meat: How Low-Meat and No-Meat Diets are Impacting Consumer Markets”. Euromonitor International. August 26, 2011. http://blog.euromonitor.com/2011/08/the-war-on-meat-how-low-meat-and-no-meat-diets-are-impacting-consumer-markets.html