Woman with sheep

New study: Pandemic leads to increased demand for compassion in fashion

FOUR PAWS reveals that almost 90 per cent want fashion industry to prioritise animal welfare


Millions of animals suffer, are mutilated or die every year for fashion items made of fur, leather and wool. Yet, new research commissioned by global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has revealed that there is a strong demand for more kindness to animals in our wardrobes. The YouGov poll among almost 14,000 participants across twelve countries (South Africa, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, UK, US, Spain, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Netherlands and Australia*) found that almost two-thirds of adults (64%) worldwide are aware of animal cruelty in the fashion industry, while nearly all (96%) of South Africans agree that companies should make animal protection a key priority alongside environmental protection and social standards within their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies and policies.  

FOUR PAWS new program “Wear it Kind” urges consumers and industry to say “No” to animal cruelty, and to choose only animal friendly sustainable fashion. 

The research from FOUR PAWS found that almost half (48%) of adults in South Africa will choose one fashion brand over another if they prioritise animal welfare when making a purchase decision, and 62% agree that fashion brands should be more transparent when it comes to their animal welfare policies. 

“The survey results show consumers increasingly expect brands to ensure the welfare of the animals used within their supply chains. Brands acting in this way are more likely to resonate well with consumers. Though the results are encouraging, we need more people to be aware of animal cruelty when buying textiles, more transparency within animal supply chains, and to achieve good animal welfare outcomes, a reduction in the use of animal-derived materials overall,”

states Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS South Africa 

A trend called compassion

The research revealed almost three-quarters (76%) of South Africans have changed their fashion buying habits since the COVID-19 pandemic began with 27% avoiding animal derived fashion products entirely. Concern for the welfare and treatment of animals ranked high for South Africans in all categories, with 72% concerned about domestic animal leather, 54% on wool, 72% on feathers/ down, 80% on exotic leather and 84% concerned about fur. 

Wear it Kind

FOUR PAWS has a long legacy in catalysing change, most recently urging brands like PUMA and Calvin Klein to ditch mulesed wool: Mulesing is a painful mutilation of young Merino lambs where large pieces of skin are cut from their buttocks to prevent flystrike infestation, despite pain-free alternatives available. Having read a description and information about mulesing, South African’s topped the list of the 9 countries polled, with 87% most likely to agree. 

Additionally, the global animal welfare organisation has helped to drive the Fur Free Retailer program, in which, over 1,500 brands have pledged to never use fur. “Through our new Wear it Kind program we’re committed to supporting and encouraging brands to reduce their use of animal derived materials, refine their supply chain practices to ensure animal welfare is achieved holistically, and over time replace animal products for sustainable animal-free materials. While fur has been in focus internationally for some time, many other cruel practices also persist including the live plucking of geese, shocking mutilation practices within the wool industry, and brutal killing and keeping conditions of animals used for leather. Together we can end this cruelty, and work towards achieving an animal friendly fashion future,” concludes Miles. 

Shoppers can help by pledging to Wear it Kind and learn about the fashion industry support on how to act for animals here.

* The global study was conducted online between 7th-18th January 2021, and is comprised of representative samples of the following twelve markets:

| Australia | 1,060 |
| Austria | 1,054 |
| Bulgaria | 1,013 |
| France | 1,027 |
| Germany | 2,038 |
| Italy | 1,024 |
| Netherlands | 1,046 |
| South Africa | 508 |
| Spain | 1,026 |
| Switzerland | 529 |
| United Kingdom | 2,109 |
| United States | 1,213 |
| Total | 13,647 | adults 18+ (51% female, 49% male)

Global report

Global report

See the full results here



Together, we can drive an animal-friendly fashion future

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.za 

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