Vogue tells us that the fashion trend for the summer is all about the exotic look. Exotic skins, exotic furs, exotic prints. . . whether it’s real skin or fake – snakeskin, crocodile, kangaroo, leopard, giraffe and tiger – everyone wants to show off a bit of their wild side. In a recent Canadian Huffington Post article, Colleen Sherin, the senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, brags that she’s used everything from, “tegus lizards, stingrays, tree snakes and frogs” for shoes, coats, and accessories. Sherin goes on to explain that tree frogs are so small, “they’re used for small pieces and even then they need to be pieced together.” Everyone loves a great cheetah print, and who doesn’t love a faux crocodile purse? But stitching together skins from endangered tree frogs to fashion into trim for a pair of Jimmy Choos? Yikes. Treehugger.com tells us that, “Animal skins have been recently used in shoes and accessories by fashion labels including Jimmy Choo, Donna Karan, Mulberry, Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli and Yves Saint Laurent.”
We know the lengths that the fashion industry will go to for supple leather and great looking fur, so why would they draw the lines at critically endangered animals? The same Treehugger article says that “between 2000 and 2005 it is estimated that 3.4 million lizard, 2.9 million crocodile and 3.4 million snake skins were brought into the EU [European Union]” for the use in fashion. PETA tells us that 90 percent of all snakes used in fashion are wild-caught. PETA also tells us, “[that] to kill snakes for their skins, hunters invade their homes and often nail them to trees and skin them alive before tossing them in a pile to die. The snakes can suffer for days before succumbing to shock or dehydration.”
Personally, I’ve never looked at a pair of thousand dollar shoes and said, “What the hell, I feel like a little bit of treefrog trim might make my wardrobe pop!” But for some, the latest style won’t do without the proper shoe, even if an endangered animal is killed in the process. Over the course of this series we’ve learned about all sorts of great items that are both eco-friendly and fashionable, and don’t you worry – our next piece will showcase many of these amazing sustainable choices for your wardrobe. In this current environment of thoughtful consumerism, there is just no excuse for the treefrog trim.