No Fur Fashion protest along side London Fashion Week.

London Fashion Week is back for 2017 with the Autumn Winter collections, meaning that fur is going to be deemed more ‘essential’ than ever by pro-fur designers. Despite many big labels like Armani, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood denouncing animal products in fashion, London Fashion Week continues to provide the largest platform for fur in the UK.

To raise awareness about the obscene nature of the fur industry, a variety of different events have been set by various organisations campaigning against animal rights in the fashion industry. Groups such as Surge aim to reveal the reality of what happens to animals in fur farms.

Surge is an activism organisation using non-violent direct action to hold corporations and businesses to account for their mistreatment and negligence towards animals. Their aim is to spread awareness about the use of fur in fashion, educate people about the reality of fur obsession in the fashion industry and to encourage more members of the public to stand up against animal exploitation.

Protesters gathered outside the main entrance of London Fashion Week with banners, costumes and megaphones to make their voices heard. If cows could talk, we bet they’d ask you to “wear your own skin”, said a protester who was passionately chanting. The activists had previously been at London Fashion week in September campaigning against the use of fur, so for them this was the second opportunity to gain more support.

Many campaigners were impassioned by the fact that they were situated outside the entrance, watching fashion fanatics walking in, unaware of maltreatment to millions of animals for the sake of what a niche percentage of them consider “fashionable”. Chants such as “shame on London Fashion week” and “Fur isn’t fashion, where is your compassion” were shouted repeatedly by campaigners throughout the day.

One protester, Josh Spencer spoke out about the use of leather in the fashion industry, explaining, “First of all, leather is the skin of an animal who suffered. Before animals are turned into belts and shoes, they are forced to live in crowded, filthy conditions on factory farms.

“They endure painful procedures like castration and dehorning – without so much as an aspirin for the pain.

After being crammed into trucks and carted off to the slaughterhouse, many animals are still unconscious when they’re hung upside down and their throats are slit”.

Sounds of animals being tortured was played on repeat to emphasise the pain animals have to endure for the fashion industry to thrive. Animals killed for their skin and fur endure miserable lives and nightmarish deaths, but they don’t have to. With so many luxurious non-animal alternatives available, animals don’t have to be a fashion statement; instead we must bring out these injustices to make a difference.

Protesters claimed that designers who use fur are exploiting customers, models, and spectators at London Fashion Week by importing very cheap fur and selling them to retailers and customers at expensive rates. Anti-fur activists blame the IFF for promoting the increased use of fur in the fashion industry and have promised to step up their campaign. Elisa Allen, PETA’s associate director, said: “There is nothing stylish or creative about fur. A TNS poll showed that 95 per cent of British women wouldn’t touch it, and 80 per cent of designers at London Fashion Week AW15 did not use fur in their collections.”

The group of campaigners managed to influence many onlookers on the high street as they passed the demonstration. Many stopped to read the different plaques and signboards held by the protesters, which read “fur is worn by beautiful animals and ugly people” and “whose skin are you in?”. The campaigners wanted those running London Fashion Week to see the reality of what they are promoting obliviously.

As high fashion drips down into high street fashion, the relentless promotion of fur by high brow designers is culpable in the normalisation of cheap high street fur items that have been brought back into shops and market stalls. No doubt imitations of the fur items featured in London Fashion Week this year will soon be seen donned by members of the public.

A petition was set up two weeks before the protest on Facebook to gain support from all over the world. They made a short video to highlight the brutality in fur farms and juxtaposed them with images from London Fashion week. The video got more than 300,000 views and there were over 90,000 signatures on the petition.

Animals killed for their fur and skin are slaughtered in gruesome, cheap and cruel ways. Many of the most common methods used to kill animals for their fur- such as gassing and electrocution via the anus or vagina- aren’t always lethal, and some animals regain consciousness while they are being skinned. Much of the world’s fur comes from China, where animals are routinely skinned while they are conscious, struggling desperately to escape. One investigator recorded video footage in which a skinned raccoon dog on a heap or carcases has the strength to stare into the camera.

As there are only a handful of companies in the fashion industry which are ethically aware of their use of fur, it makes you wonder why the remainder of them are still oblivious to the presence of fur farms and their harsh treatment of animals. It also makes us wonder why more companies are not raising awareness of the immoral trends.

But despite its controversial status, consumers appear to be embracing fur with renewed enthusiasm. Retail analysts reported that there has been an increase by 117 per cent in real fur products released into the fashion market in the past three months, compared to this time last year. The real issue is that many people do not realise that they are buying real animal fur. The fur farms in Eastern Europe export fur at very low prices and these get sold in bulk to market stalls in high streets, making it very cheap and easily accessible to customers.

Sponsors that fund LFW are next to be targeted by the group in order to stop the use of fur in fashion. By stopping funding of such events, it means that companies will not be able to promote fur to their customers. More measures need to be taken to make the fashion industry more morally legitimate as there are other aspects of it that are also unethical, such as size zero models putting their life on the line to “look good” for the designers.

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