Fashion + Animals

This September, in partnership with FOUR PAWS UK, we're looking at how animals have been a source of survival, commodification and inspiration in fashion and how the industry must become kinder.

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Animals are essential to sustaining the balance of nature through biodiversity. Whilst we are often in awe of animals, throughout history, they’ve also been a source of survival and arguably exploitation. The earliest use of animals in clothing dates back to prehistoric times where cavemen wore simple outfits made from the hides and skins of animals for protection. In the 21st century and this is still the case for many indigenous tribes worldwide, who live in balance with nature by only using what is needed for survival.

 

In Westernised fashion systems, animals are both a commodity and source of inspiration across the industry. Natural animal fibres offer benefits like being biodegradable. However, there’s growing concern about the ethics surrounding how such fibres are sourced, highlighted by the anti-fur and vegan fashion movement of recent decades.

 

From a design perspective, animal prints frequently appear on catwalks and in collections. Leopard print, to zebra, to snakeskin, this trend, noticeably, does not seem to fade and is still ruling the fashion world. Whether for survival, commodification or inspiration, the presence of animals in fashion is as historic as the concept of fashion itself.

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