Hide your pets, Fashion Week is here

Fashion week: friend? Or foe?

With Texas Fashion Week (TXFW) being hosted in San Antonio from Oct. 1-7, excitement levels are soaring for what the designers have up their couture sleeves. This year, the show will feature various up-and-coming starry-eyed designers, all from local, talented and notable businesses. However, with the state’s rocky and worrisome history concerning animal cruelty, is it possible Texas’ fashion week will feature this too?

Just last year, Governor Abbott vetoed Senate Bill 474, which would penalize dog owners for unlawful, cruel and painful restraint of their animals. Abbott called this bill an act of “micromanaging and overcriminalization.” Above this, all animal cruelty laws in Texas only apply to domestic animals. This specifically does not include animals being tested on or wild animals. This has a clear implication: animal testing is still very much present and overwhelming in the Texas fashion and makeup industries. Based on this, I was not optimistic about animal safety during TXFW, and I largely expected animal cruelty in some form or another to be present in exorbitant amounts on the runway.

However, against all odds, Texas seems to have weeded out the diamonds in the rough. Maybe it’s due in part to the looming presence of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who initiated a letter-writing campaign to the Abbott administration in protest of its recent unjust veto. Maybe it’s because TXFW is run by an independent organization with a blessing from Ron Nirenberg, animal fanatic, dog owner and mayor of San Antonio. Not only is Texas championing several new designers, but the organization is also running a sustainability competition, registration for which is open now and closes on Oct. 3. The competition is sponsored by Goodwill San Antonio and includes an interesting challenge open to all students. In this conquest, students must scour the shelves of a Goodwill in San Antonio and find an upcycled outfit: the most stylishly designed student wins.

Recently, Copenhagen Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and several other cities’ fashion weeks all banned the usage of fur in support of a more sustainable and bright future. However, fashion companies were not as amenable to the will of the public as they are now. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal testing for cosmetic purposes began in 1938, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was first given authority over the safe and careful handling of food, drugs, medical devices and cosmetics. This new organization boasted several talented scientists, two of whom created an animal testing method known as 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 gauging its reaction in order to determine whether or not the product is safe for human consumption. This test is still in practice today, although not as frequently used because of public protests.

PETA has organized several protests during fashion week, first in 1991 during Oscar De La Renta week and recently against Marc Jacobs in 2018. These protests featured popular slogans like “we’d rather go naked than wear fur” and “Fur for Scum.”

Despite these protests, animal cruelty in the fashion industry has not ceased to exist. Incredibly popular brands, including Burberry, Dior, Estée Lauder, Fendi and Victoria’s Secret, still use animal testing and animal products in their merchandise. Though the fate of animals in fashion brands seems bleak, and it is difficult to avoid brands that test on animals or use animal products, a little bit of research can go a long way. Sites such as Ethical Elephant, Logical Harmony and PETA can provide you with an easy-to-access list of cruelty-free products.