Gucci’s new campaign with its ambassador, Dakota Johnson is under fire for modelling products made of real python and crocodile skins. PETA heavily criticised the campaign in a letter addressed to Johnson earlier last week, pointing out the consequences of such campaigns and the industry that commodifies animals as luxury items.
The letter stated that the exotic-skins industry is “extremely cruel” as PETA Asia’s investigations at an Indonesian slaughterhouse showed that “workers were caught on camera bashing reptiles in the head with machetes and hacking their necks up to 14 times before they were decapacitated for their skin.” The letter also exposed the gruesome conditions that crocodiles were kept under in their farms.
PETA also pointed out that the process of killing snakes involves invasion of their homes, after which they are nailed to trees and then skinned alive to be left to die. The organisation then went on to request for the actress to pledge to stop promoting the use of exotic-skin fashion items, especially since there are so many vegan alternatives that do not warrant such violent practices. Johnson has yet to respond to the letter.
PETA has also reported that nine out of 10 Gen Z consumers, along with millennials, boast US$350 billion in spending power in the US alone, which means that the onus falls on businesses and companies to exhibit environmental and social consciousness in their business practices. Other high fashion companies such as Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Burberry and Carolina Herrera have banned exotic skins in an effort to meet the growing demand for sustainable, animal friendly products by offering vegan alternatives. Chanel phased out the use of fur and exotic skins such as crocodile, lizard and snake skin it its future creations in 2018.
As for Gucci, this is not the first time the brand has been called out for the use of animals. Last year, non-profit animal rights organisation World Animal Protection slammed the brand for "glorifying captive wild animals" in its Gucci Tiger collection in celebration of the Year of the Tiger. The luxury brand had released campaign images of models with real tigers superimposed into them.
In a Facebook post, Gucci said the tigers were photographed and filmed in a separate and safe environment complying to the brand's policies and then featured within the campaign. Third-party animal welfare organisation, American Humane, was also said to have monitored the set on which animals were present and verified that no animals were harmed.
"In celebration of the holiday, different versions of the animal define a curated selection of ready-to-wear and accessories—highlighting the multifaceted nature of the Gucci universe. Rich with significance for the House, the animal expresses the creative director’s fascination with the beauty of nature," the luxury brand added on its website.
Nonetheless, the luxury brand was called out by Nick Stewart, World Animal Protection's global head of wildlife campaigns, who said that Gucci is sending the wrong message through its ads - even if it has used digital technology - by portraying tigers as pets and luxury items when they are wild animals who belong in their natural habitats. Steward and the team urged Gucci to "stop glorifying captive wild animals" in its campaigns and issue a statement confirming it recognises tigers belong in the wild. Stewart added:
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