LOVE CLOTHES. LOVE ANIMALS.
Last updated February 2012
by Burlesque Performer and Impresario Tina Warren
I love beautiful clothes and I love beautiful animals. I'm vegan and so don't wear animal materials. Animals are not ours to wear, walk on or carry our possessions in. Before animal products reach the shops, the animals have lived a life of misery, pain, boredom and fear.
Despite animal welfare stereotypes of hand-knitted jumpers and hemp, you can dress fabulously and not hurt animals.
During the day I dress comfortably as I have a busy life. Men's suits, dinner suits, 1940s land girl overalls, 1950s jeans, military, colourful oriental jackets, cameos and pearls. For evening I like dresses from the 40s to 60s with top to toe accessories, Victorian mourning clothes, tuxedos, military. Very special evenings out eg at my own clubs it's rubber, vintage dresses, skin tight clothes, 18" corsets, lingerie as outerwear. For the stage I love lavish evening gowns, nipple tassels, rubber costumes, Swarovski crystals, glamorous vintage wear, opera gloves. A lot of my costumes for the stage are specially made for me. As you can tell, my favourite clothes are vintage, I seldom buy anything new. I make some of my own clothes.
Before any clever clogs finger wags at us - yes of course everything we wear hurts animals at some point in its manufacture. Eg there are lots of non-leather shoes out there but the glue is probably made from animals. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty-shoed step in the right direction.
That big nasty that most people agree is wrong.
There are lots of gorgeous and ravishing fake fur items out there. I have lots in my collection - some vintage, some new, some from chain stores, some from upmarket shops. Some so realistic that I get shouted at in the street by anti-fur people. Grab the nice items when you see them - they never go out of style; they're warm and sensual; and they make the simplest outfit very glamorous.
Here is a mink cape I bought on the high street. And here's a dead mink that will go to make a real mink coat.
Leather is just as cruel as fur. Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than 1 billion animals, and GB makes £600 million every year. Leather from Asian countries such as India and China often comes from animals whose throats were cut and whose skin was ripped off while the animals were still conscious. Our UK leather mainly comes from cow skin, but it can also be from zebra, salmon, kangaroos, seals, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, ostriches, dolphins, toads, kangaroos, goats, pigs. Soft leather comes from calves, and the softest leather comes from unborn calves whose mothers have been slaughtered.
It's not just the animals who suffer. Each time you buy a new pair of leather shoes you are responsible for using as much water as having a bath every day for over 40 years. Tannery workers have an increased risk of suffering from skin and melanoma, kidney, bladder, testicular, lung and pancreatic cancers
There are a growing number of faux leather shoes, bags, belts, and clothes out there. Available from pretty much every high street shop and web shops. You'll be saving lots of money too as well as saving lives. Just check the labels.
Avoid anything that says leather, suede, chamois. Cow skins are in fashion at the moment too so should be avoided. Other words for animal hides are vellum, deacon, doeskin, sheepskin, kid/kidskin, lambskin, latigo leather, grassers, hide, parchment, pigskin, skin, slunk, patent leather. Other popular animal skins to avoid are alligator, crocodile, lizard, snake and ostrich.
If any item has this logo then it's leather.
Dance shoes http://www.alternativestores.com/ethical-shop/vegetarian-shoes/ballet-dance/cat_14.html
3,000 silkworms die to make every pound of silk.
There are humane alternatives invented, but I never come across any of these when shopping. They may actually be mandmade silk but the manufacturer won't say that as it may be considered inferior. So in the meantime I just won't buy it. However, there are lots of quality garments out there that feel and look beautiful and sensuous but which are not silk.
1930s vintage lingerie
This is seldom if ever discussed by animal welfarists. But most feathers garments are made from dead animals or animals that are bred for their meat eg ostrich. Very, very rarely are they made from feathers that are naturally shed. Information is difficult to come by on the subject of feathers. From my own point of view - if there's money to be made from animals there will be cruelty involved. Feather Down harvested from ducks and geese is particularly cruel. As much as 5 ounces of feathers and down are pulled from each bird every six weeks from when they're 10 weeks old until they are up to 4 years old. I don't know if they do this with peacocks, ostriches and other popular feather machines - I can only assume that they would if they can make more money out of them. Most feather items in the shops are made from slaughtered chickens. You can even buy feather boas and other feathered items at pound shops. Once anything has hit the pound shops you can safely say it's reached tacky level - another good reason not to wear feathers.
The feathers are plucked from an ostrich every 7-10 months. Birds have a hood put over their heads, are immobilised in a wooden V-shaped crush while feathers are cut off. That, believe it or not, is the kindest way to harvest their feathers. The other method used on ostrich farms, to ensure quality leather skins, is to remove the ostrich feathers by hand, pulling the feathers one-by-one out of their sockets with pliers while the bird is alive.
If a showgirl is beautiful and talented she most certainly does not have to resort to ostrich feathers to make her act good.
Everyone wears feathers in burlesque - yawn. My twin sister and I are burlesque performers but we never wear feathers. It pushes us to be more creative and we're always complimented on our fabulous costumes.
Sheep have evolved to grow just enough wool for protection from the cold and to keep cool in the summer. Wild sheep do not need to be sheared. Their time of shedding occurs when it is of benefit to them. Farmed sheep can often be shorn at times not suitable for the animal. Millions of sheep die from exposure after premature shearing. Flies feed on shearing wounds or the thin, exposed skin which delays wound healing. Sheep are dehorned, castrated and tails docked. Female sheep are breeding machines.
More than 80% of the world's clothing wool comes from Australia. Many animals here suffer from lice, fleece rot and foot rot - as painful as it sounds. Millions of slow agonising deaths are caused by infestations of flystrike where the sheep's flesh is slowly consumed by thousands of swarming maggots until death finally results. The sheep are so distressed they cannot eat, drink or sleep. Sheep can die within a few days but many linger for up to several weeks, often in the burning sun without relief from shade. Lambs are forced to endure a gruesome procedure called mulesing in which huge chunks of skin and flesh are cut from the animals’ backsides, without any painkillers. Some big companies such as H&M and Hugo Boss have boycotted Australian wool for this reason. Millions of these sheep are then shipped on crammed ships to the Middle East where animal welfare standards are non-existent. These journeys can last for months. The sheep are dragged off the ships, loaded onto trucks, and dragged by their ears and legs to unregulated slaughterhouses, where their throats are slit while they are still conscious.
It's not only sheep who suffer for wool. Angora wool is made from angora rabbits. Mohair and cashmere from goats.
There are many wool alternative products in the shops. Check the labels of clothes. Avoid anything with the words wool, wool mix, wool blend, merino wool, gabardine, crepe, tweed, angora, alpaca, boucle, gabardine, cool wool, crepe, cashmere, flannel, melton, camel hair, jersey, mohair, worsteds.
Look out for viscose, nylon, polyester, cotton. They're not as cheap and nasty as they sound - great improvements have been made in these materials. Get with the times.
Many hats are made from wool - but so many aren't. I have a growing collection of non-wool hats myself.
Other good reasons not to wear wool: it can be itchy, it shrinks in the wash, trickier to launder generally, moths find it tasty.
OTHER ANIMAL PRODUCTS
There are other clothing and accessories that are made from animals that I don't buy. Ivory - made from elephant tusks. Tortoiseshell. Astrakhan - made from sheep embryos (also known as Persian lamb). Pearls. These are beautiful items if you discount where they come from - but there are beautiful imitations out there.
SOME OF MY VEGAN BURLESQUE COSTUMES
Top hats are usually made with silk, wool, fur felt, or leather. I had a lot of trouble trying to find a top hat that was vegan but that didn't look fancy dress. Here is my velvet top hat bought from America. It was usually supplied with ostrich feathers but I asked them not to do this.
Tuxedos and tailored garments are made of wool and often have horse hair in the lapels. I commissioned this tuxedo 3 piece suit and it's my pride and joy.
Rubber/Latex is magic to wear. You're instantly transformed into a Sex Goddess. Anatomic Bomb is my favourite. www.anatomicbomb.com
This was my Wicked Highwayman act. Most 17th century style costumes are made of wool and silk but thankfully I found this one in velvet. Boots are non leather too
My Phantom of the Burlesque Club act. Custom-made corset with 18 inch waist. Swarovski crystals covering mask, bra and opera length gloves.
Be beautiful! xxx
If you have any comments to make on this article or would like more information on any of these subjects please email firstname.lastname@example.org