The Devil Wears Dog

Avoiding cashmere won’t just save you on your dry cleaning bill, our furry-friends will thank you too

Italian luxury goods designer Trussardi grabbed the attention of the fashion scene this month when they released their menswear advertising campaign. The brand is renowned for their superior quality and traditional elegance, as well as being the official supplier of English royalty. Ergo, one would expect to see the new menswear line on models with symmetrical features, chiselled jaw lines and perfectly groomed hair. Indeed, the models for the new line are just as extraordinarily stunning as one might expect. Notably, however, there is something a little different about these models: they all have four legs, and a tail.

“I dedicate this project to the greyhounds of Trussardi, mysteriously calm, wonderfully photogenic, and most of all, incredibly elegant.”

For their S/S ’14 line, Trussardi, which uses a greyhound as its logo, decided to replace the normal cast of handsome bearded men in crisp suits for near-comical images of greyhounds dressed in the brand’s clothes. Presumably the model hiring bill for this campaign was considerably cheaper, although I expect there was much more food consumed on set than usual. Photographer William Wegman, who was commissioned to capture the shoot, said of his work “I dedicate this project to the greyhounds of Trussardi, mysteriously calm, wonderfully photogenic, and most of all, incredibly elegant.”

Human beings have always been fascinated by animals. We have been intrigued by their physical structure, enraptured by their beauty and fascinated by their natural behaviours. We have worshipped them as gods, kept them as companions, stuck their heads on our walls and even made musical instruments from their tusks. Somewhere along the line, we also realised animals could be enslaved. In short, humans have exploited animals for centuries.

snakeskin

But why do we think it is perfectly acceptable to treat them in this way? Perhaps it is because we see them as lesser; as having less value or importance than us, a viewpoint that seems ingrained within human history. We are often all too quick to differentiate between “them” and “us”, be it on the grounds of species, race, religion, class, or mental health.

Notoriously, the fashion industry has had a highly questionable attitude in respect of the treatment of animals. Fur coats, leather bags, belts and shoes, and insect jewellery, are to name but a few examples.

“animals deserve to be treated better”

I expect I seem like a stuck record, repeating the same old imperative “animals deserve to be treated better”, as we all know the tune by now. One might even think this an issue that is largely in the past; no one with any ounce of self-respect wears fur, ivory or snakeskin anymore, and so we skim articles like this instead attributing them to self-righteous hippies who, frankly, need to go get a ‘real job’. Then again, are we really as informed on such crucial issues as we would smugly have ourselves believe?

The recent angora scandal highlighted just how ignorant we still are. Major high-street brands such as Topshop, Zara and M&S have been selling materials that are sourced using shockingly horrific procedures for years, yet most of us are simply unaware or do not think of where our clothes actually originate from. Instead, we judge products by the ‘packet’ they come in rather than by the composite ingredients.

Goat_face

I myself am to be counted among the ignorant. It did not occur to me that purchasing clothing made out of the hair or by-products of animals (e.g. warm woollen socks, or a silk scarf) was just as cruel and thoughtless as wearing a fur scarf that still had a fox’s feet attached. In the case of wool, for instance, I was under the naive impression that they simply got a regular ‘cut and dry’.

Nevertheless, many of the animals used to create these items are also maimed and killed. Cashmere, made from the fine underbelly fur of goats, is produced by farms where the animals are dehorned and castrated, and have their ears notched without anaesthesia. Goats with “defects” in their coats are typically killed before the age of two. Industry experts expect farmers kill 50-80 per cent of young goats whose coats do not meet standards.

It is vital we do not let such cruelty continue. Highstreet chains like Topshop continue to make a profit out of helpless animals’ pain with their cruelty-regulated stock still being sold online. When Nouse checked their website this week, angora products such as their knitted cable cardi, (14 per cent angora) costing £48, were still available for purchase.

The capacity for suffering is a vital characteristic that gives any being the right to equal consideration. All animals, human or otherwise, have the capacity to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. To deny this simple truth for our own convenience is to act without moral consideration. It is time to wake up and realise that the industry has not progressed as far as we might trust, so we must search for cruelty-free products. Enough is enough.

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