Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
Congratulations to the winners of Born Free USA & E Magazine’s 5th annual fffashion Fur Free Fashion Competition! Yes, conservation can have compassion… and so can fashion!
I was thrilled to see such exciting, creative designs from the contestants. I especially enjoyed “Umbrella-la” by Jaimie Partin. Instead of using fur, Partin chooses cruelty-free and eco-friendly materials. Her design, which claimed Second Place, was made almost entirely out of recycled black umbrellas.
First Place winner Colin MacGregor’s “Boom, Bam, Pow” combined his interests in fashion and environmental economics to create a patchwork sweater that would be the envy of any comic book fan.
Third Place and Green Award winners Vanessa Walilko’s and Krity Shrestha’s designs reflect their ingenuity and their passion for environmental sustainability. Walilko used industrial surplus to create a brilliant flapper dress made up of 3,000 aluminum disks. Shrestha’s “Phoenix,” inspired by the fall of the Sui dynasty, is the elegant result of upcycling two garments from thrift stores.
I’m so proud of all the designers who submitted their work for the contest. Their efforts prove that the fashion community is indeed interested in fur free design and show just how creative, versatile, and stylish fur free fashion can be. They are everything the fur industry is not: ethical, environmentally sustainable, and inspiring.
But most consumers don't know the dark realities of the fur industry. First, fur – and fur trim – kills. Contrary to what the fur industry would like you to think, fur is not just another fabric! Fur used in clothing is the skin and hair of an animal. These animals are brutally slain after being trapped in the wild or bred specifically for their fur in fur "farms." Fur is not a byproduct of animals who died of natural causes, nor is fur trim a byproduct of the scraps of other products. According to producers, 90 percent of foxes raised on farms are killed for the fur trim market.
Second, the fur industry is a serious threat to conservation efforts. Fur farms are responsible for the pollution and destruction of land—and tanneries, more than any other business, are on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list that identifies the priority environmental clean-ups. Trapping reduces populations of certain wild animals because fur trappers want the healthiest animals with the fullest coats. But, traps are notoriously indiscriminate and will catch any animals—including endangered species and even family dogs and cats—who happen to step in the trap.
Lastly, trapping and fur farms are not tightly regulated. Trapping regulations vary widely from state to state and are, in general, poorly enforced. Many states have few restrictions on the types of traps that can be used or the number of animals that can be trapped. In addition, there are no federal laws regulating how animals on the nearly 400 fur farms in operation in the U.S. are to be housed, cared for, or killed.
But, despite the disturbing issues that inevitably come up whenever animal lovers discuss the fur industry, the fffashion design contest is a celebration! It’s an opportunity to honor those designers who have decided that animal cruelty has no place in the fashion industry. It’s a chance to showcase that the connection between fashion, sustainability, and animal welfare is very much present – and in vogue.
And, a big thank you goes out to our astute panel of judges who dedicated their valuable time to fffashion, as well as to E Magazine, our sponsors, and all the designers who entered. I'm always impressed by the creativity shown, and this year was no different. (See the top 10 here!) But, the biggest thank you goes out to the compassionate consumers: the ones like you who know the numerous benefits of saying “no” to fur fashions without saying no to style!