The smell of a leather jacket, the sight of tacky-looking cowboy boots on someone’s feet; are all common sights in our modern society. But why do we still use this material when there is so much controversy surrounding it?
The answer to that question can be summed up by one word: tradition. Leather has been used for hundreds and even thousands of years as an important resource because it was readily available at a low cost during periods where animal populations were plentiful. Eventually, people learned how to make shoes, bags, and furniture from different hides, which would eventually lead to using only cowhide to produce both full-grain and suede leathers due to their durability against weathering conditions such as rainstorms and snow.
However, now that there is a rising concern about the ethics behind animal slaughter for human needs and wants, vegetarians/vegans have been a vocal minority in the past few years.
When it comes to vegetarianism/veganism, leather (which ultimately requires an animal’s death) is almost always one of the main things they try to avoid. They say “a cow had to die for you to wear that jacket”, or “the only reason those shoes exist is that someone died for them”. These types of arguments are meant to shock other people into doing what they want or feel comfortable with wearing as opposed to what they really want. There are even some organizations whose sole purpose is to generate awareness about animals used by.
During World War II, the United States government decided to use leather for making uniforms and boots for its soldiers. This was based on a simple fact: its lightweight and durability make it easy to transport around. This took place not only in America but all over the world as big military powers used this resource during those times to make uniforms for the soldiers, jackets for pilots, and even the parachutes from which they jumped out of planes.
Even in the modern-day, companies use leather to make shoes because it’s incredibly durable.
In fact, if you ever thought about buying a pair of sneakers for training at the gym or doing sports such as basketball and soccer; they’re better suited for those activities than cloth trainers (also known as “sneaker” which is a portmanteau of “sneak + shoe”) which can tear apart after extended use.
However, some people don’t care about tradition and look only towards their own morality when choosing what material is right ethically for them to wear. For example, let’s say an individual was going out on a date with someone who has no interest in wearing leather simply because seeing animal skins being used disgusts them. What are they to do?
For this particular situation, I believe it would be in the best interest of that individual to either wear something they feel is more ethical than leather or to simply talk with their date about why wearing something such as a leather belt is ethically okay for them because being vegan/vegetarian isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea. They could even wear a cheap watch made from plastic which should satisfy the individuals’ concern about the wearing of leather but not cause them to look bad compared to others who may be viewing them while on a date. That way you get what you want without having to go against your ethics.
It boils down to this: whatever makes you happy at any given point in time; do it. If you feel like wearing leather shoes because you enjoy how they look and feel, then do so. If you want to wear gloves because the cold weather feels good against your skin, go for it. And if you’re going out on a date and don’t feel comfortable in sandals because your feet will be touching the same material as the chair or ground; do something about it such as wearing different shoes or bringing along extra ones which are more suited for that scenario.
However, I think when someone says “it’s unethical” simply because of their own personal belief system; I should get offended by what they said. After all, if they really wanted to be respectful towards a variety of religions and cultures around the world; they should keep their personal beliefs to themselves out of respect.
All in all, the point I’m trying to make is: if you want to wear something made from leather such as a leather jacket or a leather messenger bag, do so because it’s comfortable for you. If not, there are plenty of other things which haven’t involved animal skins or death and can still provide comfort in whichever way one may need at a given time.
I hope this article sheds some light on the subject for those who are interested but don’t know enough about why we use leather in various areas such as fashion and clothing manufacture. Feel free to comment with any questions/concerns regarding this topic because I will be more than happy to help answer them as well as discuss why anything of that nature isn’t unethical.