December 19, 2016
Nature & Environment
Formally, and without employing their usual shock-tactics, PETA penned a letter to fashion design students at Central Saint Martins, countersigned by eight fur-free designers. Most of whom are fresh out of Granary Square themselves, and all crowned masters of compassionate fashion. We talk to the director of PETA, Elisa Allen, on why CSM’s fashion design students were the best people to approach, and how rescuing her first cat meant empathy was unavoidable.
PETA’s relationship with the fashion industry has long been deemed a tasteful one, as campaigns fronted by Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford painted animal activism in a way that consciously avoided clipboards and fleece coats seen up and down the highstreet. Nowadays, their work has meant that a fur-free status is synonymous with the fashion establishment, with i-D reporting that “86% of London Fashion Week designers did not use any fur in the A/W ’16 catwalks” joining the adamantly cruelty-free brands Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood.
With the well-known already won over, it would seem sensible that the future of fashion should be made aware of the harm that comes with dancing with the devil, a strength that is difficult to muster when a hard up design student is offered sponsorship to fund their final year fashion collection. An experience all too familiar to Elisa, a student herself not so long ago, “I know how tempting anything free can be – but that’s no excuse to sell out”. Her advice is as particular to students at a certain university as the letter written to them, “I’d urge talented students at Central Saint Martins to look into the Stella McCartney scholarship which supports progressive, sustainable and compassionate design”.
It’s clear that PETA is still looking to involve the fashion establishment, if only a few years prematurely, but the seriousness of this campaign is shown not in shocking imagery but, instead, the collective attention of designers who have followed the education system and woven success out of their morals; chiming as a collective “it’s easy to produce a killer look that no one had to die for”; advising on the best plan of action while championing that students have “a unique opportunity to influence the next generation of consumers by embracing the trend towards cruelty-free fashion”. From reading the letter, it is clear to see that PETA and the associate designers are riding on the wave that has (quite recently) seen veganism transported from a choice with limiting connotations, to a lifestyle that has become a fashionable status symbol among many. The letter continues, “the dying fur industry is desperately trying to keep itself visible by pushing pelts on up-and-coming designers. We, the undersigned, urge you not to give in to industry bribes and incentives”. It’s clear from the offset who sits on which side of the students’ shoulders.
Letter written by PETA to fashion design students at Central Saint Martins, countersigned by eight fur-free designers.