fashion animal skins, export and ethical trade

Fashion house Versace recently announcement he had stopped using kangaroo skins in his fashion collections after coming under pressure from an animal rights group LAV.

Kangaroo meat and skin have an annual production value of approximately A$174 million, with skins used in the fashion and shoemaking industries.

There are legitimate questions about the ethical way kangaroos are killed. But indigenous peoples have long used the skins of kangaroos and opossums. Versace’s concerns may have been assuaged by a better understanding of our traditions and practices.

Reviving Skills

There has always been concern about how native animals are treated while alive and how they are killed to cause the least amount of distress, pain and suffering. activists say 2.3 million kangaroos in Australia are hunted every year. Official sources quote this figure as the national quota, but put the number actually killed at around 1.7 million.

Australian Aborigines have used native animals for thousands of years, primarily kangaroos and possums. Consciously and sustainably, every part of the animal has been used. Kangaroo meat was eaten, skins were used to make coats to wear, teeth to make needles, tail tendon used as thread.

Cloaks were incised with designs on the skin side meaningful to the wearer representing their totems, status and kinship. Cloaks were made for babies and added as the child grew into adulthood, and people were buried in their coats when they died.

Traditional possum coats at the Melbourne Museum’s Aboriginal Cultural Center in Melbourne, 2006. The coats are called ‘Biganga’, which translates to
Image AAP/Julian Smith

Aboriginal women in New South Wales and Victoria began resurrect the tradition of making kangaroo and opossum skin capes to pass on the knowledge of this important practice to future generations. Interestingly, opossum pelts can only be purchased in New Zealand for these trades. As an introduced species, they have wreaked havoc on New Zealand animal populations and the environment, but are a protected species in Australia.

Slaughter and trade

In Australia, kangaroos are not bred but are harvested from the wild for their meat and fur under a voluntary program. code of Conduct. The code is difficult to monitor and its application is complicated by sharing responsibilities between the federal and the state. This code is currently under review.

The export and import of wildlife is regulated under Australia’s national environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In practice, kangaroos are shot in the wild by licensed professional shooters with a single shot to the head to kill them quickly.

There are concerns whether shooters need to be better trained and whether shooting at night with poor visibility leads to the death of alpha males or mothers with joeys in their pouches.

If the mothers are accidentally shot, the code dictates that the joey must also be shot. Sometimes the blow does not kill them instantly and they are then bludgeoned on the head. Traditionally, Aboriginal people harpooned kangaroos. It was unlikely to kill them instantly, so they were quickly killed with a blow to the head by a boondi (wooden mass).

Why kangaroo?

Kangaroo skin is extremely strong and more flexible than other leathers, including cowhide.

It is commonly used in the production of football boots as they conform extremely well to the feet and do not need to be worn in harder leathers. This led to a to augment in the use of the kangaroo.

LAV reports Italy is the biggest importer of kangaroo leather in Europe, where it is used to produce football boots and motorcycle suits. They are pressure brands Lotto and Dainese to stop using the kangaroo, arguing that shooting animals is unsustainable given the estimated one billion creatures killed in bushfires this season.

Animal rights groups want companies like Lotto to stop using the kangaroo.
Shutterstock

In terms of environmental sustainability, kangaroos cause less environmental damage than cattle. Cows produce methane gas, their hard hooves destroy the earth, they eat the grass to such an extent that it does not regenerate. Kangaroos eat the grass leaving a small part to bloom again, they bounce on the ground without damaging it and do not produce methane gas.

The use of kangaroo skins in fashion can be done ethically if the code is reviewed in consultation with Indigenous peoples and applied correctly. The industry has the potential generate and support sustainable business opportunities for Aboriginal communities.

While celebrities are shameful to wear fur is about the unregulated and inhumane treatment of coyotes, chinchillas, foxes, minks, rabbits and other furbearing animals. On the other hand, scientists to consider kangaroo harvesting as “one of the few rural industry development options with the potential to provide economic return with minimal environmental impact”.

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez is a longtime fur fan and Versace favorite.
Chloe Bell/Future Image/WENN

only natural

Versace, as well as most fashion retailers from high-end to ready-to-wear, use synthetic fibers in their fashion products. These materials ultimately cause more damage to the environment than natural fibers and hides. They do not biodegrade and many of these fibers end up in landfills, our oceans or in the fish stomachs.

Animal skins will always be used in fashion and other products because of the unique properties that skins bring to design and function.

While the bushfires have killed millions of native Australian animals, the killing of kangaroos is being managed to have a limited impact on the population.

We should focus our energy on saving native Australian animals that are close to extinction and pushing for a stricter code of ethics for shooters that can be legally enforced to ensure kangaroos are humanely killed.

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