THE PRICE OF VANITY
The Animal Skin Trade

Vanity it has always triggered a huge interest, especially in the arts, just think of painters such as Tiziano and Charles Allan Gilbert or Memling but also in sculpture and literature. Since Greek mythology is expressed by the figure of Narcissus, whose history, like that of Lucifer, Adam and Eve, accompanied the
protagonists to the insidious aspect of vanity itself.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that “vanity is the fear of appearing original”, that is to say the futile pleasure of yourself is a way to put yourself in evidence to exorcise the terror of not to be. In a really different era and with the necessary cultural diversifications, Andy Warhol expressed very clearly this urgency as well.

Through photography I wanted to create an unprecedented document capable to tell the price of vanity.

We all know how work intensive farming, which uses industrial techniques to get the maximum amount of product at the lowest cost and using minimal space. At the same time we know much less how work the intesive farming regarding the huge business of animal skins destined to the worldwide high fashion market.
I tell you the sacrifice hidden behind the ruthless values expressed by the high fashion, and its cultural trend dominated by remorseless standards of beauty.

In this broad scenario, there is a long list of animal involved, whose are condemned to intensive farming for the production of clothes with furs, feathers or leather.
The business volume that revolving around this trade amounts to several millions of euro and among the most famous brands, we can find Gucci, Hermès, Cartier, Burberry and many more. In fact, only Italy and France import half of all the European demand.

Although the breeding of animal skins has long been opposed by animal rights movements, which led to massive campaigns against this practice especially in the eighties and nineties, at date, we have to wonder if there is a need of new laws, or just a cultural awareness.
Among the many initiatives in the protection of enviroment and towards animals, there are protective measures of great importance as the CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (active starting from 1975), which prohibits hunting and exploitation for commercial purposes of certain species of animals.
Many brands of high fashion adhering to initiatives that protect the animals rights, but in fact, what has never changed is the awareness that concerns the great compromise, that this industry expressing.
Most of the intensive farming of furry animals are concentrated in the northern hemisphere in Europe, where at the first positions we find Denmark, Poland and Finland. Looking at east, China is the world leader in the manufacture. At the other side, Canada and the United States are the largest producers of furs but for what concerns the crocodile skins production, in South America we have strong competitors such as Brazil and Colombia.
Why should we talk about this trade today? For the simple fact that to date the production, in terms of quantity, it is more than double compared to the nineties.
In 2015 came to around 100 million garments, which are mainly minks and foxes. The market is again exploded and demand especially from China, Korea and Russia, triggers a production with astronomical sums.
Just thinking that in Europe, only the UK, Austria and Croatia have banned this practice, and it seems that the Netherlands is going to adapt to the policy against intensive farming. This practice is still alive and stronger than ever.
This phenomenon in accordance with law is perpetrating from decades, the extermination of animal species destined to the luxury market.

This project is not against breeders but dedicated to all of us, because we must know the history of what we buy and we have to stop exercising only our right of blind buyers.

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© 2018 Paolo Marchetti Photographer

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