I crashed Milan Fashion Week for PETA – here’s why
If you’ve been following fashion news over the past few weeks, you’ll have seen that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters have enjoyed a clean sweep at shows in all four major cities that hold fashion weeks. We have crashed Milan Fashion Week, as well as the runways of Coach in New York, Burberry in London, and Hermès in Paris.
I was one of the four disruptors. I briefly left my life behind to fly to Milan to protest at Gucci’s show, one of the most eagerly awaited shows of the season. And so it was that I crashed Milan Fashion Week with much trepidation. But also, much determination.
After all, PETA is no stranger to disrupting fashion weeks. It storms catwalks in the name of the billions of animals who suffer for fashion. So my purpose was clear. Stepping onto the runway, heart hammering, I brandished the sign I had smuggled in inside my vegan leather bag. It read: “Gucci: Ban Exotic Skins.”
Many fashion show attendees don’t realise who’s behind their clutch or heels. But at PETA, our mission is to ensure they find out.
We won’t let the industry hide the truth. Like how crocodiles are killed by shoving metal rods down their spines and into their heads to scramble their brains. Or how lizards are tied up inside tiny boxes before being beheaded for Gucci accessories.
As A-listers fawn from their front row seats inside plush venues in Europe or the US, in the Australian outback, a mother crocodile is confined to a filthy tank so small she is unable to even turn around. And in South Africa, an ostrich watches in terror as her flock mate’s throat is slit.
Fashion houses like Gucci, Hermès, Burberry, and Coach mislead consumers by spouting buzzwords like “welfare” and marketing their products as “luxurious.” But in reality, they are the rotting skins of individuals who endured a miserable life and a violent death.
Going up against the multimillion-dollar advertising budgets of fashion houses takes guts, sure. But it is necessary to remind people that animals are living, feeling beings. They are not ours to use for fashion. And the trepidation I felt when I crashed Milan Fashion Week is nothing compared to what the animals go through before their skins end up on those runways.
Standing Up For Animals
In a world where animals have been commodified and their slaughter and sale normalised, PETA is tasked with reminding everyone of their pain. The pain of the goats who scream as their hair is stolen for cashmere. Of the cows who are stripped of their skin for leather. Of all the animals who feel pain and fear, just like you and I.
When it comes to sentience, lizards and snakes are no different from the dogs and cats many of us share our homes with. All animals – whether or not they are considered “cute” by humans – value their lives just as much as anyone else.
If Gucci’s new creative director, Sabato De Sarno, was a little put out by my appearance at his long-awaited debut show, I hope it also prompted him to reflect on those he condemns to death every single day that Gucci fails to ban exotic skins.
The Future of Fashion
De Sarno, along with other fashion house leaders, is likely concocting a way to ensure PETA never again crashes the party. But what they should be focusing on instead is investing in the future of fashion. Which is inarguably vegan!
Gucci has already banned fur and angora and has its own vegan leather called Demetra. Now, it must do better by moving away from all animal skins.
Until then – and until all catwalks and closets contain exclusively kind and sustainable vegan leathers, wools, silk, furs, and feathers – PETA will continue to show up and shout. But you don’t have to crash fashion week to join us. You can make a difference simply by never buying anything made from an animal.
Do you think it’s right that I crashed Milan fashion week? Let me know in the comments, below!
Sascha Camilli is Senior PR Coordinator at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).