At your website, you advertise yourselves as “Influential, innovative and progressive” (Gucci). Most people who are familiar with your brand believe you are influential and innovative, but most have to stop and think about progressive. Progressives see the world as it could be in the future. In many ways, Gucci’s fashion looks to the past. For years, Gucci used furs and leather as staples in their fashion lines, and so did many other high-end and low-end fashion houses for that matter. However, fur has come to be considered off-limits. Innovation that you are so proud of has created excellent quality faux fur and thankfully, you and many other brands have elected to use it, or at least that is what you say. If nothing else, you have agreed to raise your fur-bearing animals on farms where you claim there is no cruelty, but just keeping animals in cages for their entire lives constitutes cruelty. Killing them by skinning them alive and throwing them on the heap of other animals who have suffered the same fate is also cruelty and it is of the worst kind. No one sees that as progressive action on your part. What will it take to persuade you that killing animals for fashion regardless of how humanely it is done is not a sustainable practice, something else you also claim to endorse?
When animal activist groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) started protesting in very visible ways such as throwing animal blood onto the fur coats of high-fashion models and celebrities, the result was that eventually those who chose to wear fur got the message. Either they stopped wearing fur, or just did not wear it in public much. Perhaps some animal rights activists thought that they had won a great victory. It was a victory to be sure, fewer animals would now be slaughtered so that Kim Kardashian or Giselle Bundchen could wear their skin to have dinner with Kanye West or Tom Brady. However, the animal rights activists did not think about the leather boots that West or Brady were wearing. What about the animals who were sacrificed for that fashion choice? Some say that the leather used for fashion in the western world is often the skins of cows and pigs (and other animals) that are slaughtered for meat, so it is just a good way to use the whole animal and not waste any of it after it is sacrificed. That is not a bad argument until one looks at the boots that these men are wearing. One is alligator and the other is snakeskin, probably Python.
It is more difficult to feel sad for two of the meanest animals on earth, or at least that is the stereotype these animals have. Alligators and crocodiles, because their skin is used also, eat people and pets all the time. They are fierce and deadly and no one really loves them or pythons either. Pythons are usually not considered as fearsome as alligators and crocodiles, but they have been known to kill people. They just are not as apt to hang around people unless they are captured and kept as a pet. Perhaps these scary, deadly animals have a bad reputation as predators, but they are animals. One cannot shame them for their behavior because it is their instinct for survival that drives them to it. Hanging them from trees and skinning them alive is not done out of fear for them but out of love for money. Predators or not, alligators, crocodiles and pythons or any snake do not deserve to be skinned simply for the sake of fashion, and Gucci, you are one of the biggest manufacturer and marketer of animal skin products. That is neither progressive nor sustainable.
Perhaps you do not know how the animals that you use to make shoes, clothes, handbags, belts and other accessories are treated and killed in order for you to turn them into overpriced elements of fashion that some people just have to have. Even those who love high fashion are starting to complain that some fashion companies are using animal skins. Christina Russo of Fashionista says, “About 500,000 python skins are exported annually from Southeast Asia, with the overwhelming majority of those skins ending up in the European fashion industry. Luxury brands cited in the report are as high profile as Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Burberry, Giorgio Armani and Chanel” (Russo). Russo’s article wrote her article in 2014 after the CITES, an international agreement regarding the trade in endangered plants and animals. “Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs” (CITES). According to CITES, the export and import of animal skins into Italy, where Gucci is located, completely stopped by 2013, yet Russo talks about Gucci and other high-end fashion houses using snakeskin in their products in 2014. Either CITES is unaware of the import/export of some skins, or the skins that Gucci uses are not imported or are imported illegally. It is hard to know which it is, but the first option does not seem very likely. The last two are troublesome.
If Gucci is farm raising its own animals for their fur and skin fashions, they are no better than those who hunt them in the wild. In fact, they are far worse because at least the hunters can claim they are trying to make money to support their families. What possible reason does Gucci have to raise animals simply for slaughter so that their wealthy customers can wear the skin on their bodies? One can find few celebrities that still wear real animal fur or skins. It is all faux now. Gucci should be embracing that and using the innovation they claim to create lifelike faux fur—if that is possible to make something only worn when dead lifelike. Yet, most people who once wore fur have decided to wear faux for the very reason that it is cruel to kill animals for their fur, and it is also cruel wear animal skin for the sake of fashion too.
Perhaps the description of what is done to these animals would help you to understand why many people become upset when they learn that the latest “gotta have it” Gucci bag is made from snakeskin or alligator. PETA explains:
Alligators are packed into dank pools, and crocodiles are crowded in barren concrete pits for months or even years before finally being slaughtered for their skins. . .. Snakes are commonly nailed to trees, and their bodies are cut open from one end to the other as they’re skinned alive because of the belief that live-flaying keeps their skins supple. Their mutilated bodies are then discarded, but because of their slow metabolism, it can take hours or days for the snakes to die. In some countries, pythons are killed by suffocation: their mouths and anuses are sealed with rubber bands, and they are pumped full of air or water. It can take up to 30 minutes for them to die” (PETA).
Gucci has started raising the animals they want to use for skin for the sake of fashion on their own farms; however, since many of the animals used for fur are small rodents with great hair, it is unlikely that right next door to where chinchillas are being raised they are also going to be raising pythons who would probably find a chinchilla or two a tasty snack. So, where does Gucci get its snake and alligator hides?
In 2013, Gucci executives attended a CITES II meeting. Matt McGrath of BBC News says the meeting took place “to try to improve the traceability of python skins used in bags and shoes. They are very concerned that illegally sourced python skins are ending up being sold to customers as high fashion bags and boots” (McGrath). Apparently Gucci was not concerned enough to abandon the whole idea of using real animal skins in their fashion. Three years later, the talk is o Gucci snake skin bags. All that I had to do to find out this information was to google “Where does Gucci get its snakeskin?” and up came fashion website after website talking about how hot Gucci snake skin is this year and none of those website are over a year old. Someone should wonder from where the skins to make all these very expensive Gucci bags comes. Unless they have a farm, or there is one somewhere in the world, it is unlikely that the snake skins are legally imported.
If Gucci really wanted to be progressive as they already claim they are, they would be finding ways to protect animals and stop using their skins. If they wanted to prove they were innovative surely they could invent something that looks and feels like real alligator or snake skin, but instead they promote their products by bragging about the real animal skin used to make it. Not only is that wrong but it unfashionable too. “Cutting-edge designers are increasingly staying away from animal skins, realising that trends are set by innovators who embrace eco- and animal-friendly materials as well as advances in fabric and fibre technology that make the most out of metal, cotton, cork and synthetics’ (PETA). Perhaps what Gucci really should do is to support PETA’s efforts to stop the cruel way that those who hunt these animals treat them especially when they butcher them.
Gucci should create a partnership with PETA and use it as a big advertising campaign. They could promote their line and their new innovative faux animal skins that seem like the real without the blood on their hands. They could donate a large sum to PETA or other animal charities that specifically focus on stopping the illegal hunt and trade of endangers (or not endangered) animals. This letter is a request that Gucci stop using what was once part of a live animal for its fashion and start supporting PETA’s efforts to stop cruelty to animals so that they can honestly claim to be progressive and innovative.
CITES. "CITES at Work." 2016. CITES. 30 September 2016.
Gucci. "Our Committment." 2016. Gucci. Web. 30 September 2016.
McGrath, Matt. "Snake charmers: Gucci talks python at species meeting." 3 March 2013. BBC. Web. 30 September 2016.
PETA. "Animals are Not Ours." 2016. PETA. Web. 30 September 2016.
Russo, Christina. "Fashion's Love of Python Comes at a Price." 6 June 2014. Fashionista. Web. 30 September 2016.