We may be in the midst of an economic crisis but that doesn’t mean businesses should sideline ethics in a bid to cut costs. For consumers, the animal welfare credentials of the items they buy are increasingly important.
The result of this has been a shift away from disposable fashion towards responsible consumerism and it is great to see some of the biggest fashion brands on the high street responding to this.
However, while fair trade and the environment have risen to the top of fashion retailers’ agendas, there is still some way to go in terms of good animal welfare practice.
The RSPCA Good Business Awards were set up five years ago to raise the profile of this issue by recognising the firms that are putting animal welfare at the core of their businesses.
The winner of the large company category this year, George at Asda, has made real progress in making a stand against animal cruelty while still maintaining price, quality, design and comfort. Neon Collective, winner of the small company category, proves that high fashion high heels and ethical production can coexist.
There are challenges. For instance, in the leather industry, businesses need to find a verifiable audit solution to the long and complicated chain that leads from the cow to the handbag. Also, misleading labelling means consumers often don’t know they are buying items made from materials such as karakul lambswool, which is produced using methods that many would consider barbaric.
But solutions are there. This year’s winners show that animal welfare can be an integral part of a successful business, and consumers of clothing are starting to demand that any animals used are treated humanely.