New documentary SLAY gets under fashion’s skin

September 13, 2022

Fashion ethics are a hot topic, and rightly so. But all too often, the animals used in fashion remain absent from this discussion. SLAY sets out to change that. 

From the producers of Cowspiracy and What the Health, SLAY provides a unique perspective on the animal skin trade, asking the searching question: is it acceptable to kill animals for fashion? 

By exploring the interwoven harms caused by fashion’s use of fur, leather, and wool, it exposes unethical practices and highlights what needs to change, ultimately making an uplifting call for total ethics fashion that prioritises life and wellbeing for the planet and all its inhabitants.

A journey of discovery

Viewers join investigative filmmaker Rebecca Cappelli as she travels the world uncovering some of fashion’s best kept secrets. What unravels is a harrowing story of greenwashing, environmental destruction, unjust treatment of workers, and cruel animal exploitation.

Rebecca’s journey is interwoven with interviews from prominent thought leaders in fashion design, sustainability, and animal protection. Among them are sustainable fashion advocate Bandana Tewari (former editor-at-large at Vogue India), Brave GentleMan designer Joshua Katcher (author of Fashion Animals), British TV personality and model Lucy Watson, Collective Fashion Justice founder Emma Håkansson, and many other expert commentators.

SLAY producer and director Rebecca Cappelli

Unravelling the truth

While the film refrains from directly showing graphic footage, it conveys some powerful and confronting facts, busting numerous common myths along the way. If you thought leather was just a byproduct that repurposes waste from an existing industry, you’re not alone. Instead, we learn that leather is a major global industry worth billions of dollars that is fundamental to the profitability of meat and dairy and, in turn, one of the drivers of Amazon deforestation for cattle ranching. 

Similarly, while many of us may think animal fur is well and truly out of fashion, we discover that the market for fur globally is larger than ever, with up to 120 million animals killed in the industry every year. This includes wildlife killed in cruel traps as well as animals bred for a life of barren confinement followed by a brutal death. And, despite marketing tactics to cast fur as a sustainable resource, we discover that fur pelts are only about 25 percent biodegradable thanks to the heavy chemical treatments they undergo. Not only that, but animal fur produces over seven times more emissions than synthetic faux fur.

Meanwhile, the truth about wool is a far cry from the bucolic idyll of happy animals who benefit from being shorn of their warm fleeces. Instead, we learn of an industry rife with animal suffering and environmental destruction. The wool segment includes a powerful interview with Emma Håkansson, who also worked as SLAY’s line producer in Australia. From farms to scouring facilities and beyond, we discover the staggering extent of pollution, climate and ecological impacts associated with a fibre that is largely perceived – and heavily marketed – as natural, traditional and benign. 

Emma Håkansson on set of SLAY

What should I wear instead?

Throughout the documentary, myths about the sustainability – and indeed any conception of luxury – of animal-derived fabrics are unpicked one by one. The viewer is led to the inevitable question: what do I wear instead? Here, we are given an inspiring taste of the alternatives that are being increasingly embraced by forward-thinking fashion leaders from around the world.

As well as fabrics made from traditional fibre crops such as cotton and hemp, the film showcases some of the most exciting innovative materials in fashion today, such as faux fur by ECOPEL made from recycled bottles, Bolt threads’ Mylo leather grown from mycelium, Pinatex from the waste of pineapple leaf fibre, and cactus leather pioneered by Desserto. 

As SLAY’s FAQ section elaborates, “cork leather, Mirum, GACHA, hemp, Tencel, and so on are just a few of the many alternatives to leather, wool and fur which are either plant-based, plastic-free, biodegradable, or all three.” 

Ultimately, the documentary leaves us with a powerful call to embrace total ethics fashion. This concept, coined by Emma Håkansson, champions fashion that is fair, sustainable, and vegan. Through its dauntless truth-telling and uplifting showcase of total-ethics options, SLAY shows that this vision is not only possible in the future; it is already here.

A_C cactus leather bags, as showcased in SLAY


SLAY launched on 8 September 2022 exclusively on WaterBear Network, the world’s first streaming platform dedicated to the future of our planet. Sign up for a free account to watch now, and visit the SLAY website for a breakdown of referenced facts from the documentary, detailed FAQs, and vital ways to learn more and take action.


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