One of the purposes for which nonhuman animals are routinely made to suffer and die is the production of materials for clothing. Consequently, the use of animal clothing means harm to many animals who are individuals with the capacity to suffer and feel pleasure.
Animals are exploited for clothing most often for leather and feathers. The economic value of the leather and feathers usually contributes to the profitability of businesses that exploit these animals for other purposes such as food. In some cases, however, the only purpose is taking their skin or feathers.
There are currently numerous textiles both synthetic and natural that are not from animals, with which all kinds of clothing can be manufactured such as cotton, polyester, and gore-tex. By using these fabrics instead, we stop contributing to this form of animal exploitation. Ending the use of animals for clothing is in line with the rejection of speciesism. The reasons for rejecting the use of leather shoes or belts, wool trousers, and silk ties are the same as the reasons for stopping the consumption of meat and other animal food products.
This section explains the main purposes for which nonhuman animals are used for clothing.
Leather is often obtained from animals which are also exploited for food, thus contributing to the exploitation of these animals. Most cows, pigs, and other animals suffer for most of their lives until they are killed for these purposes.
Animals confined in fur farms live in tiny cages above their own excrement until they are killed at less than a year old. They suffer terrible stress due to this, and display stereotyped and canibalistic behaviors due to it.
In addition to those killed in farms, millions of animals agonize in traps, sometimes for days. Their misery lasts until they die due to hunger, thirst, or being killed by other animals or hunters.
Unlike what many people think, wool production is not good or neutral for sheeps. It is part of the exploitation they suffer which entails many harms such as stress, pain, injury, and infection. Eventually they end up dying at slaughterhouses.
Birds such as geese suffer greatly while their feathers are pulled out, which is a painful procedure that is done while they are fully conscious. They are killed when pulling out their feathers is no longer profitable.
There is increasing scientific evidence that small invertebrates such as silkworms may feel pain, yet they are boiled alive in great numbers to produce silk.