Thursday, 14 March 2013

Animals and Air miles, Profits and Peacocks

On waking this morning, I read the 'serious' news and then the fashion news. Despite all this news about the Pope, I was most struck by an article in the Mail. 

Is it really worth it?
A £22,000 coat embellished with peacock feathers was the subject. The article in question mainly focused on the animal cruelty aspect and disputed how Burberry actually got hold of the apparently Indian feathers (it's illegal to import them). The problem that really hit me, and has opened up a whole can of worms, is the amount of importing, exporting and relentless travelling high fashion garments undergo before they even reach the catwalk. I've never thought about it before now, but actually, fashion and its trends generate tonnes of waste and emissions while responding mindlessly to crushing demand for the undiscovered, the extravagant and the exotic. 

After being confronted on the source of their peacock feathers, Burberry reasoned (ever so matter-of-factly) that the feathers were actually from China, then exported to New York, then to Italy and then to London. That's further than many people have traveled; and this is a coat. As the crow flies (which means the actual figure will be much larger), this is roughly 18,859 km or 11,718 miles. These coats have been from Lands End to John O'Groats at least 13 times!  And they source the feathers from China;  a country which has a woeful record on the animal rights front. 'We've only produced 20' they said, but just how many of their garments take this much toll on nature? We can definitely see that Burberry places profit before peacocks.

 On searching the website of Burberry along with the other British brands of Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Mulberry, there was just as much mention of sustainability as there was of socks with sandals. On typing 'sustainable high fashion' into Google, it may as well have shrugged its shoulders. If this industry cannot help itself from supporting cruel farming practices - it's rumored that the peacock feathers in question were ripped out of a live bird - could they not at least lift a finger to cancel out some of the damage they wreak upon our world through ridiculously unsustainable supply chains. For an industry that takes so much and it so self-celebratory, it gets away with giving back surprisingly little. 

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