Celebrity designer Rina Dhaka says leather is out in PETA India’s new public service announcement (PSA) being released just in time for World Environment Day (5 June). The PSA exposes how the leather industry harms the planet and sentences animals – including cows, pigs, goats, sheep, ostriches, snakes, crocodiles, and dogs, among others – to excruciating deaths after a lifetime of pain and misery. The video was shot by Deepak Arya.
“I love fashion. I also love animals and the planet. And that’s why I don’t use leather in my designs,” says the Miami Fashion Week 2004 Best Designer and Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award winner in the PSA. “If you buy leather, remember: there’s no easy way to tell whose skin you’re really in … Vegan leather and other leather-free options can be found just about anywhere you shop. So please, be beautiful in your own skin. And let animals keep theirs.”
As Dhaka notes, leather is the most polluting material in fashion. Raising animals for their skin requires massive amounts of land and other resources. More than 90% of the Amazon rainforest that’s been cleared since 1970 is now being used for cattle ranching and leather production. In India, animals used for leather are often crammed into vehicles in such large numbers that their bones break. If they survive the journey to the slaughterhouse, their throats are typically slit in full view of other animals while they’re still conscious.
Dhaka and 32 other prominent Indian designers pledged to go leather-free after PETA India and Lakmé Fashion Week appealed to them to ditch the material for animals and the planet. She is also the winner of the Yuva Rattan Award and has represented India at Indian promotions held at Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Inters Off in Germany. Her work is exhibited around the world.