Film ‘Slay’ focuses on animal welfare and fashion’s environmental impact – WWD

PARIS – While it may be too ambitious to capture the fashion industry’s entire impact on animal welfare in a single film, director Rebecca Cappelli tries to do just that with her documentary ‘Slay’.

The film, which premiered in Paris last week, shows the effects of the trade in skins – aka leather and fur – in a wide-ranging investigation touching on everything from animal welfare, to workers’ rights and to the environmental destruction it causes through the supply chains of fashion and luxury goods eventually becoming handbags, shoes and trims.

“We all know that for most luxury brands a lot of their profit comes from skin, especially leather, and so when we say that, it’s just a fact,” she said. . “But it’s not an anti-fashion film. It’s not about any particular brand. It’s about finding solutions.”

The film takes him around the world. In Brazil, she explores the deforestation that takes place to make way for cattle that end up in leather, and in Italy, she shows how hides are sanitized and tanned. In China, she explores the industrial fur industry as well as the illegal trade in endangered animals, and she highlights the unregulated trapping industry in the United States, among other touchpoints.

The title “Slay” is a play on the slang definition of the word, as well as the darker origins of its original meaning. The film was an independently funded effort that took Cappelli three and a half years to complete. Covering seven countries, it takes a closer look at the impact of the fur, leather and wool industries on animals, planet and people.

And while sustainability is a buzzword used by brands in their marketing, the film demonstrates that the issues are interconnected in ways that are often overlooked. Cappelli attempts to demystify these connections.

“When it comes to sustainability and ethical fashion, there’s a blind spot – we’re not talking about the animals that are used in fashion, and we’re not talking about the impact the use of animals has on the planet and the people who work in the supply chain, or live in the communities that are impacted by these industries,” she said.

Cappelli said very few brands have animal welfare policies, and a 2020 report from social welfare organization Four Paws found that only 21% of brands had traced their animal-derived materials. The film argues that sustainable fashion should include animal ethics, since animals are the source of many of the most profitable products in the fashion and luxury industry.

Citing UN figures, the film notes that one leather bag is equivalent to more than 10,000 square feet of cleared land and that 80% of deforestation in the Amazon has been for cattle grazing. It also busts the myth that leather is a by-product of the food industry, when this is often not the case with high-end luxury lamb and calf skins.

Traceability is an issue, as cows are often bought, sold and moved multiple times, and their hides can change hands, obscuring the supply chain before export.

“Due to the lack of traceability, the conclusion we have through my work and with several non-profit organizations is that it is actually impossible to guarantee that this skin does not come from deforested land,” she said.

Eighty percent is sent abroad to be transformed into a commodity, the second market being Italy. Cappelli follows the trail to the tanneries which then sell bags and shoes to fashion brands. In the undercover scenes, tannery owners check the names of many mainstream high-end and high-end brands that publicize their enduring credentials but allegedly buy from untraceable sources.

These are just some of the first scenes that tackle the fashion industry’s supply chain issues, before it moves on to the illegal trade in endangered animals and dog breeding. furry in China, and the savage trapping of foxes and raccoons in the United States in some scenes that expose the impact – and the cruelty – at the heart of it.

The film also addresses the health implications for workers in and around tannery chemicals, with a particular focus on India and Italy, as well as the treatment of migrant workers who largely occupy the facilities in Italy. .

A laborer in India.

“From my perspective, it’s about connecting stories, sharing facts and information that may not be available to the general public, as well as telling stories and connecting with individuals. This individual can be an animal or this individual can be a worker in an Italian tannery or in a tannery in India,” she said of the film’s different viewpoints. “It’s more about making visible what is not visible today so that we can start a dialogue and a conversation in the industry.”

One touchpoint is her personal journey from an animal-loving child to an adult fashionista who wore furs without making a conscious connection. Ultimately, consumers don’t see the impact of materials when animals are ignored and commodified, she argues.

“We have to look into it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but I believe in being able to have uncomfortable conversations to move forward and evolve. We have to sit with that data, the science, that information, but also our feelings about it,” she said.

The documentary features scenes of visits to fur traders with rows of cat pelts, as well as footage of trapped and beaten animals and Cappelli’s visit to a fur farm with hundreds of dogs in cages. Europe is no exception. Even though several countries have banned fur farming, Cappelli visits mink farms in Poland, where he still performs, and explores how fur is often mislabeled in the European market.

Dogs on a fur farm in China.

“My goal with the film is also, ultimately, to make a cultural shift to understand that hides aren’t a ‘material’ – they’re animal hide,” she says.

The film also examines wool production and the impact of industrial agriculture in Australia and New Zealand, notably as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions for these countries, although it is often featured like a durable fabric.

“Kill” the wraps by looking at alternative materials, including polymers made from corn and sugar cane that can be converted into new textiles, including Ecopel faux furs.

It’s a very detailed overview of the issues that are both environmental and ethical in the fashion industry. The film, which is now airing on the Waterbear documentary platformis aimed not only at industry, but also at consumers.

“Essentially, we’re talking about massive issues that cross countries, and we have to be realistic about what’s doable in the short term,” Cappelli said. “We show the truth without accusing anyone and without judging anyone, but saying that these are problems [in our industry] and let’s watch it together.

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