New documentary exposes the animal suffering still rife in the fashion industry, and what has to change
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Published: 8 September 2022
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
A new feature documentary, Slay, looks into the ongoing use of animal skins – leather, fur, and wool – within the fashion industry.
Launching exclusively on WaterBear, a free streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet, the documentary seeks to expose unethical practices whilst showcasing practical solutions.
Slay will be available to watch exclusively on WaterBear for two weeks from today (08
September), during the coveted ‘fashion month’. Access to charity partners and NGOs is also available via the platform. Slay will be available on further platforms.
Showcasing investigative footage captured over the course of three years by filmmaker Rebecca Cappelli, Slay follows the industry’s supply chains and its impact on the environment – from water contamination caused by leather tanning to deforestation, animal suffering and modern-day slavery.
The documentary brings together a host of experts and campaigners, including TV personality and influencer Lucy Watson, founding director of Collective Fashion Justice Emma Håkansson, CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress Samata Pattinson, fashion journalist and sustainability activist Bandana Tewari and vegan educator and author Ed Winters – aka Earthling Ed.
Filming took place in Australia, Brazil, China, India, France, Italy and the U.S. Viewers are taken inside factories and farms to uncover the dark side of fashion.
By highlighting the extent of greenwashing in the fashion industry, Slay debunks myths around animal skins being a sustainable material.
‘The suffering of animals in the fashion industry is greenwashed into oblivion while those skin industries are destroying the planet and harming people. Slay aims to challenge the notion that animal skins are a fabric, and open people’s eyes to the dark realities behind some of the most sought after skins in fashion.’
Director and producer of Slay
The documentary reveals that there is hope, with alternatives to animal skins and furs growing year on year.
Solutions vary from puffer jackets made from 100% recycled bottles and animal-free leather
developed from pineapple leaf, mushroom or apple to plant-based wool grown from
‘At WaterBear we believe in converting storytelling into action. It’s for this reason that we believe it is vital to have powerful documentaries such as SLAY on our platform to engage consumers and drive change in the fashion industry.
‘By providing viewers with direct links to support Collective Fashion Justice they can help to prevent and raise awareness of the exploitation of animals.’
CEO and founder of WaterBear
Busting myths around leather
Animals are everywhere in fashion. They’re in plain sight daily, but the story behind the materials is out of minds.
Slay busts common myths about the global leather industry, which was estimated to be worth $250 billion in 2021.
MYTH 1: Leather is a natural product so a good environmental choice
Animal skins undergo an intense process to remove fat and hairs and make them ready for tanning, dying and treating for use in the fashion industry. From chromium sulphate to biocides, surfactants, degreasers, swell regulating agents, lime, Na2S, NaHS, low sulphide unhairing agents, NaOH, Na2CO – the list goes on.
The demand for leather is also playing a role in Amazon deforestation; cows need 100 square metres to graze and Amazon rainforest is cleared in Brazil for cattle ranches, with 80% of Brazilian leather produces for international markets.
MYTH 2: Cow leather is a better environmental choice than synthetic leather
According to Sustainable Apparel Coalition, cow leather is worse for environment than synthetic leather and polyester – not just in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and chemicals used in processing but because of its water footprint for processing (one cow hide alone has a water footprint of 100,000 litres of 26000 gallons).
MYTH 3: Cow leather is a by-product of the meat industry that would otherwise go to waste
The animal skin industry is a profit-driven industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars globally. A study from the UNIDO Leather Panel states that due to the impacts of preparing and tanning leather for fashion, it would be better for the environment for the skins to rot in a landfill.
MYTH 4: The ‘Made in Italy’ label means high standards
Often only the last steps of production took place in Italy. Often leather bags and shoes from brands like Dior, Gucci, Fendi will use animal skins from Africa where the standards of production may be less regulated.
What’s more, an EU commissioned report on the leather industry demonstrated immigrant workers in Italian leather tanneries were subjected to unstable contracts, carcinogenic chemicals and dangerous machinery.