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Big Names in Fashion Rated for Their Impact on Animals

Animal welfare is firmly on the agenda for many fashion brands, but turning this sentiment into action is the critical next step

11/29/2023

Global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS has released the third edition of its Animal Welfare in Fashion report. The report highlights how the industry is performing on animal welfare and suggests where industry efforts can be prioritized to maximize impact for animals on the ground while supporting the industry’s sustainability objectives.  

FOUR PAWS has partnered with sustainable fashion ratings platform Good On You to rate 100 fashion brands from 15 countries across 9 market segments including luxury, sports, and fast fashion to assess their impact on animals. 

The report names Patagonia, Stella McCartney and ARMEDANGELS among the top-rated brands, while luxury giants Prada and Hermès are among the worst rated brands in 2023. 

Brand Ranking from the Animal Welfare in Fashion Report 2023

G-Star RAW (Most Committed PAWSome Fashion Brand) and Missguided (Most Improved PAWSome Fashion Brand) are among the five PAWSome Awards winners for the brands that have made the most notable progress in animal welfare.

Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.

The report reveals important progress has been made by the growing number of selected fashion brands addressing animal welfare. Since 2021:  

  • there's been a 12% increase in the number of brands with new animal welfare policies;
  • three out of seven brands that used fur have gone fur free; and
  • 17% of brands improved their animal welfare rating to a higher category.

Greater attention to animal welfare by brands comes as little surprise considering the increasing demand by consumers for higher welfare and animal-free fashion. In 2021, a survey by YouGov found that 37% of consumers prioritized one fashion brand over another if they prioritized animal welfare, due to the growing awareness of animal cruelty in fashion among consumers.

“Heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a huge shift in consumer preferences in recent years towards fashion that is considered in its animal and environmental impacts. Brands are more often storytelling the types of animal-derived materials they choose and the rationale for choosing them. This now involves educating their customers about the consideration for animal welfare and the environmental impacts of the materials brands are using.”

Ranny Rustam, Animal Welfare Textiles Research and Projects Coordinator at FOUR PAWS

Along with increased consumer education, certifications have become an important tool for brands to demonstrate their increasing commitment towards animal welfare. While only 10% of the brands we rated disclosed a commitment to use fully certified materials across all ‘conventional’ types (wool, down, cashmere, alpaca and mohair), this was slightly higher for wool – the most frequently used animal-derived material – 38% of the brands disclosed commitments to fully certified non-mulesed wool by a set date.  

Additionally, 5% of the brands we rated disclosed commitments to achieve full traceability of their leather (the second most frequently used animal-derived material), and 2% disclosed commitments for their leather to be fully certified to beef, dairy or organic standards with better defined minimum requirements (although these do not rule out all cruel practices).

With 72% of the brands rated having animal welfare policies, our report shows that animal welfare is now firmly on the agenda for many fashion brands. However, efforts by brands needs to go further, so that change for animals on the ground can happen faster. With five billion animals used in fashion every year, translating policy into action is the critical next step for the fashion industry.

“Animals are suffering routinely from mulesing, live plucking and poor animal husbandry. Brands need to step up and stop profiting off this organized and systematic cruelty.”

Ranny Rustam, Animal Welfare Textiles Research and Projects Coordinator at FOUR PAWS

Our research noted that most of the brands we rated had not yet mapped their supply chains to the raw material stage. While strong traceability requirements for animal welfare certifications were enabling brands to be more transparent, only 9% of the brands we rated had more than 50% of their animal-derived materials certified.

“The use of certified materials is the least brands should be doing to ensure animal welfare, but just 9% of the brands we rated had the majority of their animal-derived materials certified. Certification rates right now are abysmal and need to go up. Having no mechanisms in place to ensure animal welfare while profiting off animals is the opposite of responsible business conduct. It's hugely concerning, disappointing and terribly unjust.”

Ranny Rustam, Animal Welfare Textiles Research and Projects Coordinator at FOUR PAWS

Meanwhile, brands face mounting pressure to lower their carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and support industry efforts to drastically reduce production and remain within planetary boundaries. Decoupling from animal agriculture and reducing the use of virgin animal-derived materials therefore plays a key role. However, just 3% of the brands we rated disclosed that they aimed to reduce their reliance on virgin animal-derived materials.

With the industry set to get even more serious about its environmental sustainability targets, where can brands focus their efforts to maximize the impacts for both animals and planet?

“We need to see a permanent capability in brands to produce less from animal-derived materials. This means accelerating investment into textile recycling and material innovations that address both animal welfare and circularity. At the same time, we need to see higher rates of certification, certification standards to be strengthened, and for brands to support producers to meet the demands of certification standards. Simply put, brands must do more to ensure the welfare of animals within their supply chains.”

Ranny Rustam, Animal Welfare Textiles Research and Projects Coordinator at FOUR PAWS

Animal Welfare in Fashion

Animal Welfare in Fashion

Towards a truly ethical and transparent fashion industry

Report blurb: FOUR PAWS latest report shows that animal welfare is now firmly on the agenda for many fashion brands. But turning this sentiment into action is the critical next step. For the third edition of our report, we partnered with Good On You to rate 100 international brands on their progress in animal welfare. The demand for higher welfare and animal-free fashion is rapidly growing, and more brands (72%) now have animal welfare policies. With just 9% of brands having most of their animal-derived materials certified however, brands must do more to ensure animal welfare in their supply chains.

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