Fashion Week: Boyfriend? Or enemy?
With Texas Fashion Week (TXFW) taking place October 1-7 in San Antonio, the excitement is building for what designers have up their couture sleeves. This year the show will feature bright-eyed diverse up-and-coming designers, all from local, talented and well-known companies. Given the state’s bumpy and troubling history of animal cruelty, is it possible that this could also be seen at Texas Fashion Week?
Just last year, Gov. Abbott vetoed Senate Bill 474, which would penalize dog owners for unlawful, cruel and painful restraint of their pets. Abbott called the law an act of “micromanagement and overcriminalization.” Additionally, all animal cruelty laws in Texas apply only to pets. In particular, this does not apply to animal experiments or wild animals. This has a clear implication: animal testing is still very present and overwhelming in the Texas fashion and makeup industry. Because of this, I wasn’t optimistic about animal safety during TXFW, and I largely expected that animal cruelty in one form or another would be present in exorbitant amounts on the runway.
Against all odds, however, Texas seems to have weeded out the diamonds in the rough. Perhaps it’s partly because of the looming presence of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have launched a campaign of letters to the Abbott administration to protest their recent unfair veto. Maybe it’s because TXFW is run by an independent organization with the blessing of Ron Nirenberg, pet fanatic, dog owner and mayor of San Antonio. Not only is Texas championing several new designers, but the organization is also hosting a sustainability contest for which registration is open now and ends October 3rd. The competition is sponsored by Goodwill San Antonio and includes an interesting challenge open to all students. In this conquest, students must search the shelves of a San Antonio goodwill and find an upcycled outfit: the student with the most stylish design wins.
Recently, Copenhagen Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and several other cities’ fashion weeks have banned the use of fur to support a more sustainable and brighter future. However, fashion companies were not as accessible to the will of the public as they are today. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal testing for cosmetic purposes began in 1938 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first gained authority over the safe and careful handling of food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. This new organization had several talented scientists, two of whom developed an animal testing method called the Draize Irritancy Test, which was then championed by several companies worldwide. It involved applying a small amount of a test substance to an animal’s eye and measuring its reaction to determine whether or not the product is safe for human consumption. This test is still practiced today, although not as commonly used due to public protests.
PETA has organized several protests during fashion week, first in 1991 during Oscar De La Renta week and more recently in 2018 against Marc Jacobs. These protests included popular slogans such as “We’d rather go naked than wear fur” and “Fur for scum”.
Despite these protests, animal cruelty in the fashion industry has not gone away. Incredibly popular brands like Burberry, Dior, Estée Lauder, Fendi and Victoria’s Secret still use animal testing and animal products in their merchandise. Although the fate of animals in fashion brands seems bleak and it’s difficult to avoid brands that test on animals or use animal products, a little research can go a long way. Websites like Ethical Elephant, Logical Harmony, and PETA can provide you with an easily accessible list of cruelty-free products.