Was Topshop a cruelty free retailer?
It’s clear that Topshop had all the basics covered when it came to being a cruelty free brand.
Suppliers of Topshop’s clothes were forbidden from using certain materials such as down, exotic animal skins and fur. Sustainable and cruelty free sources were actively searched for, and the origin of that material was tested in a laboratory to ensure it is what it is claimed.
However, there was still a lot that needed to be done before we could have claimed that Topshop was truly cruelty free.
In previous articles we have reviewed Topshop’s attitudes towards the environment as well as their ethical treatment of employees throughout their supply chain, sadly proving that they were a classic case of a fast fashion retailer greenwashing the truth.
We now turn our attention to Topshop’s attitude towards animals and ask, was Topshop cruelty free in 2020?
What is Topshop’s animal welfare policy?
Leathers, skins and feathers must be the by-products of slaughtered animals. No products from endangered species should be used, nor should any factories use angora, real fur, pelts, or karakul. Similarly, no feathers or skins should be plucked from live animals, and cosmetics are banned from being tested on live animals.
Topshop’s Declaration of Ethical Compliance for Animal Products explained
Topshop is committed to making sure products are made in a socially responsible way through fair and ethical practices.
As a result, they have introduced a ‘Declaration of Ethical Compliance for Animal Products’.
Yet on reading the small print, there is nothing truly groundbreaking in the guidance that it offers. In fact, a lot of what’s stated is expected from any Western business looking to uphold the bare minimum standards.
Topshop’s Animal Welfare Declaration:
Topshop explicitly stated that all suppliers are required to sign up to the Animal Welfare Declaration, which regulates the treatment, handling and care of all animals.
Topshop had banned a number of basic materials, such as angora, down, exotic animal skin and fur, but sadly it doesn’t provide details on where it sources the animal materials it uses such as leather or wool.
Through research into the sustainability of Topshop’s products, we know that Topshop has not yet managed to review all tier 2 and 3 suppliers. What this means is that Topshop is blindly sourcing a lot of the raw materials needed to make their clothes.
Herein lies the problem. If Topshop doesn't know the origins of 100% of their materials, how could they guarantee that their clothes are animal friendly. The simple truth is that until Topshop knew exactly where materials were being sourced, the welfare of both animals and workers cannot be guaranteed when making the clothes you buy.
Topshop’s promise to be a cruelty free retailer
In true Topshop style, a lot of verbal promises were made to prevent animal cruelty without a huge amount of evidence to back them up.
Fortunately, a certain amount of trust can be placed in Topshop’s attitude towards animal welfare through their commitment to a number of external organisations.
These commitments are stated in Topshop's Animal Welfare Declaration, which suppliers are required to sign to prevent the mistreatment of animals in the production of their clothing.
However, it must be stressed that as far as evidence goes, there is relatively little on which we can rely that proves animal welfare was a top priority for Topshop.
Is Topshop’s makeup cruelty free?
Yes, Topshop makeup is cruelty free. All makeup, beauty and cosmetics sold under the Topshop brand are never tested on animals at any stage during their production.
All Topshop beauty products must adhere to the Leaping Bunny’s Cruelty Free standards. This is an internationally recognised certification which provides a guarantee that no animal testing has taken place at any stage during a product’s development.
Topshop’s cruelty free range has grown over recent years, but it seems likely this was driven primarily by profits and changing consumer demand rather than purely a determination to help the planet or protect animals.
Does Topshop use real fur?
No, Topshop is a fur free retailer and forbids suppliers to use real fur in any of their clothes.
This is recognised by the International Fur Free Retailer Program, which certifies that no animal furs are used in the making of their clothes and connects consumers to companies seeking fur free alternatives.
Contracts with any suppliers selling real fur products to Topshop will be paused until changes have been made. All faux fur components are to be identified on the care labels so as to not mislead the end consumer.
Does Topshop use real leather?
Yes, Topshop does use real leather to make some of its clothes. However, rules have been put in place to ensure a degree of ethics must be followed when sourcing this leather.
According to Topshop’s Animal Welfare Declaration, suppliers must obtain the leather only as a by-product. Slaughtering the animal with the sole purpose of obtaining the leather is strictly forbidden. A similar policy likewise applies to skins and feathers.
Are Topshop leather jackets real leather?
Yes, many of Topshop’s jackets are made from real leather. However, if you are looking for real leather, make sure it specifically states this in the product description as many of Topshop’s jackets are made from faux leathers such as Polyurethane, a petrochemical based material that is energy and resource intensive to make, and releases toxic chemicals when it ends up in landfills.
If you are interested in finding out more about sustainable leather sourced jackets and faux leather alternatives, read our page on recycled and upcycled leather.
Other animals that Topshop don’t use in their clothes
Topshop have strictly stated that suppliers are not to use any endangered species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to make their clothes.
In addition, wool cannot be sourced from farmers who mulese their animals, and feathers must be sourced in accordance with relevant EU, US and Candadian legislation.
To prove the composition of fibres used in clothes, manufacturers are required to upload samples to an accredited laboratory, where testing to validate the composition of the fibre is conducted and approved.
Topshop was willing to trailblaze and is receptive to new evidence
Topshop was receptive to the discovery of evidence suggesting attitudes towards certain animals must change. For example, in 2018 it became one the first fast fashion retailers to ban the use of Mohair (fabric or yarn made from an Angora goat) after concerns were raised by activists about the treatment of Angora goats on South African Mohair farms.
Why is this significant you may be asking? It means that Topshop, despite its size and position as a fast fashion supergiant, was willing to change its approach and force suppliers to maintain animal rights standards.
How can Topshop improve its to become a truly cruelty free brand?
The reader of Topshop’s Animal Welfare Declaration is left completely in the dark about the success of these requirements.
We are not told the results of any of the tests they conduct on fabrics, nor is there any indication of how much progress has been made over recent years. We simply don’t know whether fewer factories are now found using banned materials than has been the case in the past.
We hardly even know the consequences suppliers face for breaking such policies - overall leaving us with the sense that their attitude towards animals is vague and unconvincing.
What can I do?
The Human Society of the United States reports that a whopping 71% of domestic abusers are also cruel to their pets. Additionally, 88% of people under surveillance for child abuse commit animal abuse as well. - breedadvisor.com
It can feel a little daunting and you may not know where to start but there are great resources online that can help us take steps to putting an end to the mistreatment of innocent creatures.
If you want to read more about animal cruelty and how we can help prevent it, we'd recommend this really useful guide: https://breedadvisor.com/preventing-animal-cruelty/
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