A new documentary is exposing the fashion industry for its greenwashing and treatment of animals.
Produced by Keegan Kuhn (known for his work on 2017’s What the Health and Cowspiracy), SLAY follows filmmaker Rebecca Cappelli’s journey around the world, investigating the animal skin trade.
Cappelli—who also worked on the 2018 food-focused documentary Let us be Heroes—traveled to Australia, China, India, Europe, the US, and Brazil to film at leather tanneries, fur farms, wool farms, and skin processors.
“I have spent the last three years investigating animal skins in fashion,” Cappelli says in the film’s trailer. “They have a damaging impact on the planet, on people, and, of course, on the animals.”
“If someone would have told me even half of what I discovered doing this film, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Cruelty in fashion
More brands are banning animal skins (fur bans, in particular, have become popular among luxury brands, as public opinion turns on the trade), but fashion is still far from cruelty-free.
According to the documentary, around 2.5 billion animals are killed for fashion every year. Around 1.4 billion of those in the leather industry. (Leather isn’t limited to cows; pigs, kangaroos, buffalo, alligators, and snakes are also killed for their skins.)
But Cappelli hopes that her film will drive change.
SLAY’s Indiegogo page reads: “Through our collective efforts, films like Cowspiracy and What the Health have had a huge global impact – and we can do this again.”
“We want this film to reach a mainstream audience to accelerate change thanks to existing solutions.”
Innovation in fashion is improving, and the plant-based leather industry, in particular, is becoming more mainstream.
For example, in 2021, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams teamed up with Coperni to design a range of bags made from apple leather. Also last year, Ganni pledged to ditch leather completely, and instead use grape-based leather to make its shoes.
At the time, the brand’s founder Nicolaj Reffstrup said: “Selling leather products, although highly profitable, will soon be as outdated as smoking on TV.”
How to watch the documentary
SLAY wants to make Reffstrup’s prediction come true as soon as possible. From September 8, the film will be available to watch on WaterBear Network. The free streaming platform is dedicated to sustainability, activism, and conservation.
Other films available to watch on WaterBear include Milked, an expose of the dairy industry, The Last Pig, which tells the story of a pig farmer’s moral quandary, and The True Cost, which investigates the human and environmental impact of the fashion industry.
“Our platform and streaming service helps activists, brands, consumers, and NGOs to deliver on their sustainability initiatives,” said WaterBear’s CEO Ellen Windemuth.
“It’s vital to have powerful documentaries like SLAY on our platform to engage consumers and drive change in the fashion industry.”