Stella McCartney, PETA protest leather at Toronto Fashion Week

Lindsay MacAdam
Shine On Blogger
Shine On

Toronto Fashion Week -- it's not all cocktails, shmoozing and street-style photographers, despite what you may believe. That's all certainly part of it, but there's also usually some form of political activism going on to add a much-needed dose of reality to the glamourous affair.

This time around, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is providing the reality checks, reports the Huffington Post, but not through the sort of extreme measures the organization has come to be known for. Luckily for some, no one's fur coats will be splattered with paint.

PETA's particular quam this season: the leather industry. To help spread the message to as many fashion designers, models, press, buyers and fans as possible, PETA representatives were positioned outside the tents at Toronto's David Pecaut Square this week, accompanying a very powerful and disturbing video message starring none other than British fashion designer Stella McCartney.

"Our aim is not to tell you what to wear, but to give you the facts so you can make informed decisions next time," says McCartney in the video.

Warning: The video below contains scenes that may be disturbing to some viewers.

PETA's eye-opening exposé of the leather industry shows and describes in gruesome detail how animals can be very cruelly treated when they're being used for leather. McCartney dispels the commonly held belief that leather is just a by-product of the meat industry, which often eases our guilt about wearing it.

"In the US, most animals whose skin is turned into leather suffer extreme crowding and confinement, deprivation, castration, tail-docking and de-horning, all without any pain-killers," McCartney explains. "In slaughter houses, as you can see here, animals often have their throats cut and are skinned and dismembered while they are still alive."

To play on our guilt even more, McCartney puts the impact of our purchases into very real terms.

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"Leather isn't a by-product," she says. "It is the most important co-product of the meat industry, which means that buying leather contributes directly to the horrors of intensive factory farming. Millions of animals die for the sake of fashion every year."

Between the graphic images and details, McCartney talks about her decision to create cruelty-free clothing, avoiding animal skins entirely. She then closes by begging viewers to consider choosing animal-free fashion in their everyday lives.

"Please join me in exploring the huge variety of fashionable shoes, belts, purses and wallets that aren't the product of a cow's violent death."

In addition to the film, PETA representatives worked the crowd while handing out "Give fur the cold shoulder" pamphlets, featuring Spanish actress Penélope Cruz. According to the Toronto Star, PETA's presence has gone relatively unnoticed by Fashion Week attendees.

According to the Huffington Post, the organization also plans to educate the week's designers who use leather and/or fur by sending them the video and pamphlets to take a look at.

Does this video convince you to stop buying leather or are you unaffected by PETA's claims?

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