The fur and leather industry is dedicated to the production of clothing and accessories made from animal hide and fur. Its origin goes back to prehistoric times and is most probably the oldest means of making clothes.
In the fur and leather industry any animal skin may be used, whether it has fur or not. Normally there are two general criteria that are used to choose the animal, that its hide has a certain quality and that it is sufficiently abundant to be able to maintain sustained production.
The animals which are used most in the leather and fur industry are domestic animals bred for their meat, which means their skin is a by-product. These animals include cows, rabbits, goats and lambs. Skin, as a by-product of the food industry makes up 90% of total consumption. Of the remaining 10%, 8% belong to species bred on farms specifically for their hides and the other 2% are skins of animals taken from the wild (more than 50 species).
In this section we will focus mainly on four products because of the scale of their production: wool, feathers, leather and furs. We will also look at alternatives to use instead of products of animal origin.
Each year over 75 million animals are bred and killed for fashion.
Currently leather, which is mainly obtained from animals farmed for human consumption, is still widely used in clothing. On the other hand the popularity of clothing made of fur has suffered a serious drop in recent years due to the growth in awareness among society for the need to protect certain species (CITES ruling).
Apart from animal skins, feathers are also widely used in winter clothes and bedding due to their insulating properties.