Saturday, 1 March 2014

A Fashion Faux-Pas?

by Sophie Whitehead

*not for the fainthearted

A recent survey, conducted by the Daily Mail, suggested and showed that the average woman spends a total of more than eight years of her life shopping. Translated, that’s roughly 25,184 hours and 53 minutes in a shopping mall over a period of 63 years.

The poll also showed women will go window shopping 51 times a year, spending 48 hours and 51 minutes merely searching for a little something to fall victim to as their next purchase. Further, the survey also showed women dedicate 90 trips a year to simply just maintaining their appearances. This could include the mandatories, like shopping for clothes, an average 30 times. Or shoes 15 times. Or even accessories 18 times.

A grand total of 100 hours and 48 minutes is spent simply hunting for the latest bargains and the hottest fashion statements. A year. So there are the statistics.

Now, before I make you endure the actual story behind these no-doubt mind-numbingly boring statistics, I’d like to stress to you that I am no animal right freedom-fighter nor even a vegetarian but I do like to think I am aware of what is going on in the world and that what is done is done because it is necessary for the survival of the human race, rather than just easier.
So the other day I was shopping. Online. A common occurrence. I find something I like. I go to buy. I click ‘add to basket.’ I enter necessary card details, etc etc - you know the rest. However, this time, I do not. I pause. For once in my life, I actually brave to read the reviews. Now normally I skip this part; shopping is no stranger to me, so I feel no need to scrawl down the ongoing lists of people who rate the product ‘Amazing’ to ‘utterly abysmal.’ I just find no need for it. However, for some unearthly reason, that day I do, and, in hindsight, I have to admit I’m very pleased I did and will do more often following this experience.
The product I am buying is an angora knit - perfect for the winter, I thought. All the reviews were positive and I’m feeling more and more reassured that my soon-to-be purchase will be the right one to make, that is until I get to a certain review which is just a commented blank bar, a hyperlink to an animal welfare charity and the words ‘DO NOT BUY’.
The caps lock immediately draws my attention and I find it curious that a shop (which will go anonymous) in this day and age, which states that they’re so animal-pro could have any dark secrets. It would appear I was wrong and so the story begins.
The link is not only to an animal charity protection website but it revealed a horrendous story that will stay with me forever. The story of how angora (the soft jumper material you find in most knits) is made. Now this material, which feels like it could actually be made of candy floss it’s so soft, actually derives from Angora rabbits. More than 50 million Angora rabbits in fact. They are born and bred in horrifying circumstances in Chinese work farms where they are squashed in tiny cages and only removed once every 60 days to have their soft fur agonizingly torn from their body whilst alive, simply to provide the fashion industry with cheap fur. Most rabbits actually fail to survive beyond the total of three years (even though in the wild they can live up to 10) as circumstances are so bad. If not, they are killed by the procedure to create room for younger rabbits to take their place.

Now don’t get me wrong: I am a massive shopaholic and am not afraid to admit I probably more than make up the statistics mentioned earlier. However, I do see many unbelievably great fashion faults the world seems to make even today and find it completely unthinkable that we can spend so long deliberating what to buy but not know the truth about where our products come from themselves. To think that if it wasn’t for reading that review I might be wearing fur that came from an animal so much in pain is quite horrifying to me.

However, what shocked me the most is that it wasn’t always that way. Previously, around the 1960s, the usually white-coloured Angora fur was derived from small French farms. However, as supply and demand grew, the fashion world was forced to consider other, cheaper, means of supplying the world with fur. After all, they were just fulfilling a need the world wanted. China has fewer animal welfare laws, so they took over most of the world’s supply to provide the source and stood up to the job. But look what’s happened.

The moral injustices going on in these farms is so unbelievably cruel a petition of more than 100,000 people was signed in protest.

It is true without a consumer these farms are useless. Online fashion retailers like Asos and Boohoo have recently become the first stores to agree to immediately remove all angora products from shelves after the shocking footage. Following in suit other stores operating on the British high street such as New Look, Miss Selfridge, Oasis, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Whistles, and finally and most recently Topshop.

So next time you order something online…always check the reviews!




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