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Everything you need to know about the leather industry

Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides to create leather. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Whether you’re a vegetarian/vegan or not, that stat is disturbing. But if you know anything about factory farming, it’s really not that surprising.

I use to justify buying leather because like many people I have spoken to, we just assume leather is a by product from the meat industry and if the skins aren’t turned into leather, then we’re just being distastefully wasteful (Not that anything about factory farming is tasteful)

The leather misconception

But this is the main misconception. Somehow buying products that are made out of the skin from dead animals is justified simply because it would go to waste otherwise. It’s a general consideration that leather is a by-product of factory farming, but this isa weak argument considering the disgusting practices that take place in order to obtain said leather and the fact that leather is the most profitable ‘by product’ of the meat industry (Deng-Cheng Liu, “Better Utilization of By-Products From the Meat Industry)

By buying leather you are still directly contributing to its demand and the horrific practices of factory farming used to obtain said leather.

Factory farming is part of the fast fashion industry

In order to create leather, animals must endure the same horrors of factory farming, think overcrowding and confinement, un-anesthetized castration, dehorning and skinning, starvation and general all round, cruel treatment.

Majority of the world’s leather comes from countries like China and India of whom have very few laws to abide by when it comes to animal, worker and environmental welfare. By no means can the western world be proud of the way they treat animals in factory farms but due to the very few laws that exist in China and India, the poor treatment of farm animals in these countries really has no limit.

Cows are considered holy creatures in certain parts of India and it is known that they are forced to march without food or water for days across borders for slaughter to avoid breaking local laws, not to mention how they are treated if they are too tired to continue. Think beatings, stabbings and the use of chillie peppers which are rubbed in the eyes of cows. These practices barely scratch the surface.

It’s very common practice in China to not only slaughter cows for their skin but also dogs and cats (Not that a dog or cat’s life is more important than a cow’s) but your favourite hand bag could be made from the skin of man’s best friend (Insert stereotypical dog’s name here) and of course the reason for that is because there are no regulatory laws in place surrounding the labelling of said leather and their origins.

The environmental and health Impact of the leather industry

Another misconception with leather is the ridiculous notion that it is far more sustainable because it decomposes faster than unnatural materials. Uhh No. Leather undergoes the tanning process to prevent it from decomposing by stabilising the collagen and protein fibres, therefore leather can take up to 12 years to fully decompose. 12 years is a huge amount of time for an apparent ‘natural’ material to sit in landfill.

During the 1800’s animal skins were air dried and tanned with vegetable oils and tannins, however the industry has changed dramatically where we now use dangerous chemicals like Formaldehyde, Chrome, Natrium and Ammonium salts. Ok those words may not mean much to you, but over exposure to said chemicals have led to debilitating diseases and genetic deformities in future generations of those who work in the leather tanning industry, not to mention the damaging effect the chemical waste has on our communities, waterways, ecosystems and wildlife

Oh and FYI, factory farming is the single largest contributor to global warming and climate change. (Meat the truth documentary)

How can I put this simply?

In order to house and feed livestock, rainforests are cleared in order to create space. This then means there are less trees to do their thang, i.e. capture carbon dioxide through photosynthesis (so basically clean the air of pollutants) then the livestock fart all day everyday only releasing methane gases into the atmosphere.

Where the heck are the trees to clean this shit up? OHH that’s right, we cut them all down because, yay MEAT AND LEATHER!  Soz rant city.

What are the alternatives?

There are stacks of alternatives to leather but the alternatives can be quite conflictual. The main reason as to why leather has been in use for such a long time is because of its amazing durability and the fact that it lasts for frikking ever (If cared for correctly of course)

So yeah, I get it, and although some would argue that leather IS the more sustainable option because it’s less likely to fall apart and we’re likely to keep it in our wardrobe for longer, one must keep in mind the horrific leather making processes.

Although vegan leather is kinder to animals, majority of faux leather options are super unsustainable as they are often made from synthetic materials some of which can be dangerous to humans and the environment. “Some types of faux leather make use of petroleum-derived materials. These can include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that can be harmful to health because it contains chlorine that also is bad for the planet as it causes pollution. Besides for chlorine, PVC also contains toxic additives such as lead” (Giulia Simolo)

There is so much information out there and researching our every purchase can be exhausting, so it’s easy to become greenwashed with deceiving marketing terms like ‘faux’ ‘vegan friendly’ ‘green’ ‘imitation’ etc etc as many of these terms aren’t actually regulated.

Unfortunately the leather debate is a vast spectrum of colours that nobody likes, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, but by being aware you can indeed make better decisions.

Only buy second hand leather

There are so many beautiful second hand and vintage leather goods out there. By buying second hand, you are no longer directly contributing to the demand of leather production. You are also giving that beautiful tooled leather handbag a second life and saving it from landfill for at least another few years.

Be a legend with your unique handbag while doing your little bit to care about the earth.

Only buy from reputable alternative leather brands – Piñatex

Piñatex Piñatex Piñatex!! I am SO excited to tell you about Piñatex. Piñatex is an innovative sustainable, non-woven textile made from the waste fibres of pineapple leaves. Sourced and made in the Phillipines, Piñatex has provided new industry and provides additional jobs and income for farmers.

Piñatex is a more sustainable alternative to leather and other petroleum based products by leaps and bounds and is comparable to animal leather in durability, texture, and versatility. Unlike animal leathers, no extra land, water, fertilisers and pesticides are required to produce Piñatex as the by product from pineapples is used in its production, truly encompassing the cradle to cradle approach.

Although Piñatex is not yet fully biodegradable post manufacturing, it is compostable under the right conditions. It is an innovative material and Ananas Anam (the company that discovered and produce Piñatex) are looking to develop the product to be fully biodegradable. So watch this space!

Piñatex have also been certified as a ‘Vegan Fashion label’ by PETA AND have received PETA’s innovation award in 2015 alongside Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Simone Rocha.

 

I cannot express my excitement and love for this amazing material enough, and am so excited to see it grow in popularity, so here are a list of companies that are already using Piñatex to make their products

Po-Zu

ello v black piñatex

Vegemoda pinana bags

Rombaut sneakers

BASS pineapple sneaker with rubber sole BLACK

 

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5 Ethical Australian Fashion Labels You Need to Know About

I adore op-shopping, always have and always will. I’ve loved op shopping since I was wee brat on the hippie streets of Lismore (try not to hold it against me) all the way up to now as an ‘adult’ (still a brat though)

It’s safe to say that I’ve hunted down second hand shopping in every country I have ever visited. From Spanish and Parisian flea markets, to London, Phnom Penh, Tokyo, Vancouver, Las Vegas and New York thriftstores, just to list a few.

Basically my thrifting game is strong…

I’ve always loved second hand shopping for the story and the ‘thrill of the hunt’. I conjure up romantic past life stories of each thrifted piece and take pride in telling my friends where I bought my clothes.

It’s rare that I buy brand new (bar underwear duh) so when I do, I want my clothing to have a story. Where did it come from? Who made it? What is it made from? That, as well as the obvious reasons that they are produced in a sustainable and ethical way is why I try my hardest to only buy from the best ethical Australian brands.

I’ve had loads of requests regarding the local brands that I shop and stand by, and I have chosen the following 5 brands not only for how lovely their collections are, but because of their story and mission.

The Social Outfit

The Social outfit is an amazing clothing brand/organisation that produces unique and bold pieces that are made from digitally printed silk and excess donated fabric from the fashion industry. The clothing is sewn and manufactured in a back room in store where you can literally peek through and see the talented team working away. You can’t get more transparent than that!

Because many of the pieces are made from donated fabrics, each collection is limited edition making your purchase unique and one of a kind. The clothing is made by new migrants and refugees living in refugee communities in Sydney. When you purchase from the Social Outfit, not only are you wearing a super cool piece, you’re also contributing to a fair wage, training and a secure job for the workers.

Their one of a kind prints produced by Australian designers here in Australia, are bold, bright and very Gorman esque but without the unethical (and overpriced for no good reason) reputation. I’ve adored the Gorman style but upon discovering Gorman’s lack of transparency I am no longer the loyal customer I once was. Why on earth would I pay $200 plus for a skirt of low quality, produced internationally, by a brand that refuses to be transparent with their customers, when I can buy a gorgeous one of a kind piece from The Social Outfit with an awesome story?

So if you’re like me and have been looking for that Gorman alternative, then look no further, because these cool cats are the real deal and their designs are a million times better than those of Gorman. (Soz not soz Gorman!)

Abbey Rich

Is a cute and quirky north Melbourne designer who hand makes each and every piece from the scratchiest of scratch! Yep, she designs and hand prints all of the fabric herself. She even sews everything herself so you know that each piece is a labour of love. Everything is made to order ensuring fabric is used as efficiently as possible with very little waste.

Although the fabric used isn’t re-purposed or recycled, her collection is small and made to last, so your special purchase will be a longstanding part of your wardrobe for years and years to come!

If you love your big bold pastel prints, then Abbey Rich designs are right up your alley!

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Vege Threads

Vege Threads is another lovely Australian designed and manufactured clothing brand from, yep you guessed it, sunny Melbourne. Their beautiful pieces are all made from natural and 100% organic fabrics, ensuring minimal environmental impact. Their goal is to have as little impact on the earth as possible, with plant dyed silk and yoga wear rather than the nasty chemicals that pollute our waterways through traditional forms of dying.

Like Abbey Rich and the Social Outfit, Vege threads produce their clothing with limited runs every season to ensure waste and unwanted stock is kept to a minimum. Vege Threads are continuously looking for smarter and more environmentally friendly ways to run their business, from the general production right down to their use of packaging.

So if you love stylish, high quality basics that look and feel great then you need to check out Vege Threads! They are the go to for that super comfy, cotton jumpsuit or your classic white tee!

Organic Tee Dress

Carlie Ballard

Ok, I know I’ve rattled on about Carlie Ballard before, but it’s with very good reason. Each and every Carlie Ballard piece is made with absolute and utter love and care, all the way from the hand loom (hand woven) fabrics to the post sale advice.

Although not manufactured here in Australia, Carlie Ballard truly values and supports the talented workers of her Lucknow India workshop. The workers are ensured fair pay, excellent working conditions and consistent training. They work 5 x 8 hours days plus overtime, flexible working hours, interest free loans, financial support for training and education, paid study leave, literacy classes and the list goes on!

When you purchase a Carlie Ballard garment, not only are you contributing to a fair and better life for Indian garment workers, you’re also buying 100% organic and hand woven fabrics minimizing the carbon footprint. The Carlie Ballard style is relaxed casual yet stylishly classy all at the same time. So do yourself a favor and check out her collection!

Limited number of our DESTINATION Jumpsuit arriving end of this month. To ensure delivery before Christmas drop us an email to pre order. ✖️✖️ #artisan #ikat #jumpsuit #India #carlieballard #ethical #sustainablefashion

Camp Cove Swim

Camp Cove is a beautiful and ethically manufactured swimwear brand from Sydney. Every piece just oozes nostalgia with their adorable, one of a kind retro prints and styles. (Hands down the most flattering high waisted swimmers I have worn) All of their fabrics are printed and designed in Sydney making them 100% exclusive to the Camp Cove brand, meaning you won’t find your one of a kind print anywhere else! Not only is the swimwear locally made and printed they also incorporate recycled fabrics into the lining of all their swimsuits.

It’s safe to say that I am obsessed with Camp Cove swimwear, so if you’re looking for a pair of togs this summer that are all things ethical, seriously, look no further because Camp Cove are simply adorable.

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