Snakeskins used in shoes and accessories were a big feature of London Fashion week, with Jimmy Choo and other top designers incorporating it into their work. Animal skins have been recently used in shoes and accessories by fashion labels including Jimmy Choo, Donna Karan, Mulberry, Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli and Yves Saint Laurent.
Celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, who was recently spotted with a python skin Zagliani handbag, Eva Longoria and Sienna Miller, often seen in her favourite Devi Kroell snakeskin boots, have also been fuelling this trend, which is not only cruel and unregulated but is according to campaigners also speeding up the extinction of certain species.The European Union is apparently the world's biggest importer of reptile skins. Between 2000 and 2005 it is estimated that 3.4 million lizard, 2.9 million crocodile and 3.4 million snake skins were brought into the EU.
Although Zagliani and other fashion houses work according to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites)*, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is concerned that the major decline in large snake species in developing countries can be largely attributed to the skin trade, with estimates of as much as 90 per cent of the snakes used in fashion being wild-caught.
Our conclusion is that it’s not necessary to contribute to cruelty and illicit animal trade to be fashionable – there are many ethical, cruelty-free and even organic options for trendy and gorgeous accessories, just have a look at the examples below:
And if that breaks the budget, just follow a few simple rules when shopping to avoid anything dubious or unethical: if it sounds too cheap to be true, it probably is (considering the environmental and social cost it would take to produce the item); and try and avoid anything made with exotic looking or sounding animal products. And finally, one of the most ethical ways to shop is to buy second-hand (re-use, reduce, recycle!) so you may just find that vintage hand bag you’ve been looking for in a charity shop!
* an international agreement that seeks to ensure that trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival