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Snakes’ commodification within the fashion system

Insights from animal ethics
Annika Hugosson

Résumés

L’apparition sur scène au début des années 2000 d’un python utilisé comme accessoire d’une performance musicale retransmise en direct inaugure la vogue de l’utilisation de serpents vivants comme accessoires de mode, phénomène qui continue de s’observer sur les podiums, les tapis rouges ou les pages des magazines de mode. À la même époque, l’industrie du luxe relance la mode pour les accessoires en peau de serpent. C’est au prisme des « animal studies » et des études éthologiques spécialisées dans le comportement des serpents que le présent article s’applique à analyser l’utilisation de serpents dans ces performances ou spectacles de mode — ainsi que l’effet que celles-ci peuvent avoir sur les animaux. Cet article s’intéresse également à l’utilisation de la peau de serpent dans la mode en tant qu’accessoire qui d’une certaine manière met en scène et glorifie la mort de l’ animal dont il est issu. Qu'il soit vivant ou mort, l'apparition problématique du serpent sur les podiums et les tapis rouges pose la question de l’agentivité de l’animal en en faisant un accessoire trivialisé et passif. L’article s’intéresse également à la manière dont les problématiques de conservation se heurtent parfois à celles du bien-être animal et aux liens entre l’industrie du luxe et les organisations internationales de conservation.

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  • 1 I am unsure of the tiger’s sex and use “they/them/their” as a singular pronoun in this paper (when (...)

1At the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), Britney Spears performed her song “I'm a Slave 4 U” with a seven-foot-long, twenty-five-pound albino Burmese python. As the song began on a jungle-themed stage, Spears was in a cage with a leashed tiger. Spears burst from the cage into a choreographed routine, and the handler tempted the tiger with treats to have them face the audience.1 Midway through the song, Spears retrieved the soon-to-be-famous snake from a backup dancer and descended a flight of stairs towards the audience, which applauded as it witnessed the shocking new accessory draped over her shoulders. Outfitted with a head-worn microphone, Spears stretched the length of the snake with her hands to create a silhouette that would become iconic of the singer’s legacy as an entertainer. She continued to dance and gyrate across the stage, spinning several times, navigating between her many dancers, with the snake outstretched. Fake thunder crashed and lights flashed to mimic lightning. Smoke shot up from around the stage. At one point, the snake’s head lowered and Spears knocked it with her hip. She had the snake for less than a minute before handing it off to a dancer who was dressed as a zebra.

  • 2 Sarah Anne Hughes, ‘Justin Bieber Puts Snake up for Charity Auction’. Washington Post (blog), (08/1 (...)
  • 3 Ben Guarino, ‘The Boa Constrictor That Bit Nicki Minaj’s Backup Dancer Is Not An Accessory’. The Do (...)
  • 4 B. Guarino, ‘The Boa Constrictor That Bit Nicki Minaj’s Backup Dancer’.
  • 5 ‘Tana Mongeau Brings a Vintage Britney Spears Moment to the 2019 MTV VMAs Red Carpet’. Billboard, ( (...)
  • 6 Paige Gawley, ‘H.E.R. on Why She Brought a Real Python to the 2019 VMAs Red Carpet (Exclusive)’. En (...)

2Nearly two decades have passed and this performance and the snake, named Banana, are still talked about in popular culture. Not only is the performance still being discussed, but the use of snake-as-accessory has remained trendy at the MTV Video Music Awards, in particular. In 2011, Justin Bieber brought a young albino boa constrictor to the award show; he would auction the snake off only a couple months later.2 In 2014, a boa constrictor named Rocky bit one of Nicki Minaj’s backup dancers during rehearsal for a VMAs performance.3 David Steen, a herpetologist at Auburn University, wrote to The Dodo about the likely circumstances for Rocky’s bite: “[b]eing on stage can be a stressful experience for people, can you imagine what it's like for an animal that has no idea what's going on, with the noise, lights and rapid movements? You can expect any animal to attempt to defend itself when it feels threatened, and that was undoubtedly the case with this particular boa constrictor”.4 Finally, at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, model Tana Mongeau and artist H.E.R. each walked the red carpet wearing a snake; USA Today declared a “VMAs snake trend”.5 H.E.R. proclaimed her ball python “the perfect accessory” and explained she wore the snake to pay homage to Britney Spears.6

  • 7 Marc Bain, ‘Now That Shopping Has Become an Entertainment, Fashion Brands Need to Act like Media Co (...)
  • 8 Brian Moeran, ‘More Than Just a Fashion Magazine’. Current Sociology 54, no. 5 (2006), p. 725-744.
  • 9 ‘Prime Time Reptile Rental’, http://broadwayanimals.com/services.html [last accessed on 21/05/2021]
  • 10 Elizabeth Claire Alberts, ‘Skin in the Game? Reptile Leather Trade Embroils Conservation Authority’ (...)
  • 11 The Observatory of Economic Complexity, ‘Reptile Skins, Raw’ (2019), https://oec.world/en/profile/h (...)
  • 12 Daniel Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’, IUCN (25/03/2019), https://ww (...)

3Spears catalysed a phenomenon that persists years later and which has had complex ramifications. The line between fashion and entertainment has long been thin and in recent years, as department stores struggle and social media influence surges, the line has become even less distinct.7 Spears’s performance and its subsequent emulations are situated within the complex phenomenon of the “fashion system” which considers social, psychological, and cultural connections between runway fashions, celebrity influence, and the trends adopted by the average consumer.8 While wearing live snakes as accessories — on red carpets, in stage performances, music videos, for magazine spreads and ad campaigns, runways — has swelled in popularity to the point of establishing live reptile rental agencies available to the average consumer, snakeskin leather remains a staple in luxury fashion.9 Though in recent years major fashion houses have stopped using exotic reptile skins, others have invested in snake farms, an industry expected to grow.10 Additionally, as demand for reptile skins has seen slight decline globally, this decline has met surprising controversy.11 Prominent conservationists have argued that decreased demand for snakes’ (and other reptiles’) skins will decrease support for their conservation: “[a]nimal rights organizations who pressure retailers to ban exotic leathers contribute little to wildlife conservation […] They seem to prefer species go extinct rather than be utilized”.12 The message here is we should only conserve snakes insofar as we can use them which opens wide messy conversations about conservation, ethics and the role of the fashion system therein.

  • 13 Sue Reid, ‘Getting Under Their Skin’. The Sunday Times (London) (16/02/1997).

4In this article living and dead snakes are organized separately for sake of clarity. But the snake-as-accessory is trivialized and passivized, whether alive or dead. Britney Spears catalysed a phenomenon of accessorizing live snakes. Alongside this commodification of snakes’ living bodies, the skins of dead snakes have been prized in luxury fashion since Louis Vuitton introduced exotic reptile skins to the market, including snakeskin, in 1892.13 Investment by established fashion houses like Gucci in snake farm facilities and recent research projecting growth in the snake farming industry indicate snakeskin is here to stay, despite concerns about snake welfare. It remains to be seen if live snakes maintain their niche in fashion entertainment.

  • 14 Grahame Webb, Charlie Manolis, and Robert WG Jenkins, ‘Improving International Systems for Trade in (...)

5This paper applies a critical animal studies lens and findings from snake behaviour research to analyse instances of live snakes used in fashion performances, and the discourse around these performances. Consideration is given to how snakes’ sensory abilities may be affected by a given performance environment, and how restraint may limit snakes’ natural behavioural responses to the stress of these environments. This article also theorizes, based on concepts like nonhuman charisma and myths about reptile analgesia, why using both living and dead snakes has endured in fashion; snakes have relatively few advocates compared to decades of vocal activism to protect fur-bearing mammals.14 This article also discusses snakeskin leather as a distinct form of accessory which plainly and unabashedly glamorizes snake death. Finally, this article summarizes ongoing controversies related to the role of the fashion industry in reptile conservation.

1. A brief history of snakeskin leather

  • 15 PanAm Leathers, ‘Ethics of the Reptile Skin Trade: History’, https://www.panamleathers.com/blog/eth (...)
  • 16 S. Reid, ‘Getting Under Their Skin’.
  • 17 Chris Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion: 1882-1912’, Mrs. Daffodil Digresses (blog), (04/10/2017), (...)

6Although there are histories of alligator leathers, and records of commercial use of crocodilian skins during the American Civil War in the 1860s, there is comparatively little if any literature specifically on the history of snakeskin leather.15 Trying to put together a history of snakeskin leather is like following a trail of breadcrumbs — a museum archive here, a newspaper article there. It is from these that the following rough timeline has been assembled. Twenty years before Louis Vuitton introduced travelling bags and suitcases made of exotic animal skins — crocodile, ostrich, snake — the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, Austria had on display a single shoe made of light brown snakeskin.16 The shoe was narrow, dainty, with a short heel and black velvet bow.17 This single shoe is the earliest snakeskin item found, with a photograph, with a specific date (of display, not production).

  • 18 Grahame Webb, Charlie Manolis, and Robert Jenkins, ‘Improving International Systems for Trade in Re (...)

7According to a 2012 United Nations report, the international reptile skin industry has expanded over the past 100 years, and until the 1960s “the killing of wild reptiles for trade was largely unmanaged”.18 Perhaps this is why historical records are difficult to find. But newspapers preserve some of the motivations and early marketing messaging for snakeskin leather, including specific mention of pythons and anacondas, respectively. An 1882 newspaper article published in Alabama announced:

  • 19 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

Recently snakes and lizards have been furnishing some share of the material for what are considered the most elegant styles of pocket-books, portmonnaies, gentlemen’s match-safes, card-cases, side bags with girdles, and fashionable trifles of all kinds. Yet it is by rather slow degrees that the boa-constrictor elegance has been winding itself into favour with us; in some of the European cities it is reported as having become much more the rage.19

8In the New Zealand Herald published on 6 August 1910, the following comment could be read:

Marvels can be achieved by the python’s skin, in the hands of a clever designer […] Then why should not an entire figure be modelled on these lines–breadth here, a slim line there, attention called to a pretty waist, or angular hips transformed into beautifully rounded ones by the magic aid of the python’s skin?

Not only will women benefit by this idea, but the python’s skin should make men’s golf shoes impervious to weather, furnish lapels and, cuffs to motor-coats, and make elaborate waistcoats which will not wrinkle and which will disguise rotundity.

  • 20 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

I have already many orders for python shoes and many exquisite shoes, this autumn will be made in grey lizard, but for absolute smartness nothing will approach the gorgeous skin of the python.20

9And in the United States, an Arizona-based newspaper printed a similar celebration of snakeskin leather in 1912 as durable, flattering, and of “general benefit to humanity”. The author also celebrates the impending possibility of women wearing snakeskin garments for everyday wear as “poetic revenge” on the biblical symbol of the snake; this author opines that “thinning out” populations of snakes all over the world is a laudable by-product of an emergent fashion trend. The following is from the Arizona Republic:

For once fashion has taken a direction which promises to be of general benefit to humanity. Women, or at least such as have access to the longest purses, shortly are to use snakeskin for garments for quite everyday wear, says a London dispatch to the Chicago Inter Ocean. One can scarcely imagine a more poetic revenge by the daughters of Eve on their old enemy, the serpent tempter.

  • 21 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

Whether the new robes will prove as artistic as is expected remains to be seen. They will certainly lend themselves in skilful hands to the emphasizing of whatever graces there may be in the person of the wearer, and if the fashion thins out the number of these dangerous reptiles all over the world humanity will owe a debt of gratitude to the inventor of new modes.21

  • 22 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.
  • 23 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

10These glimpses into the past suggest that snakeskin has long been a high-end option for fashion-forward Westerners. In recent years, according to estimates, buyers of exotic reptile skins have been “women between the ages of 35 and 60, who are very affluent, cosmopolitan” whose purchases represent 3-4% of the luxury market.22 According to Christina Russo’s reporting, despite trends coming and going over the years, a “cozy embrace” of exotic skins, including python, remains “as luxury brands, appealing to an ever-richer and more global customer, try to appear even more luxurious”.23 In earlier years snakeskin was marketed as lightweight, durable, waterproof, and figure-flattering. Today there is less emphasis on practicality and more emphasis on luxury. There has also been arguably a more symbolic factor for the enduring popularity of snakeskin: the “poetic revenge” of glamorous women wearing the skin of Eve’s old enemy. Here we might pause to ask whether the idea of humiliating the “old enemy, the serpent tempter” described in the Arizona Republic is still embedded in the act of wearing snakeskin today.

2. Charisma, Umwelt, and ethics

11It is difficult to imagine a snake’s experience in our shared world given how dissimilar snakes’ bodies are to human bodies. Not only is it difficult to empathize with snakes, snakes are in fact feared in part due to their discrepancy from the human form.

  • 24 George Feldhamer et al., ‘Charismatic Mammalian Megafauna: Public Empathy and Marketing Strategy’. (...)
  • 25 J. Lorimer, ‘Nonhuman Charisma’. p. 912.
  • 26 Jakob von Uexküll and Doris L. Mackinnon, Theoretical Biology, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd. (...)

12Reptiles are generally less charismatic than mammals, with nonhuman charisma defined as “the distinguishing properties of a nonhuman entity or process that determine its perception by humans and its subsequent evaluation”.24 Jamie Lorimer argues that “[e]xploring nonhuman agency through the lens of charisma […] contribute[s] to ongoing efforts […] to forge a ‘more-than-human’ understanding of agency and ethics”.25 In order to see snakes as agential beings, we must embrace the destabilization of the human-animal divide and of human exceptionalism by confronting how we use snakes. This may be facilitated by popular understanding of Jakob von Uexküll’s semiotic theory of Umwelt.26 This theory considers the way another organism perceives the world and respects the limitations inherent in one individual studying another’s mental life since we cannot know another’s Umwelt, though we may be able to extrapolate theories based on knowledge of animal behaviour and biology.

  • 27 Fredrik Karlsson, ‘Critical Anthropomorphism and Animal Ethics’. Journal of Agricultural and Enviro (...)

13Understanding (or attempting to understand) other-than-human lived experience means reconciling with the nebulousness of other-than-human Umwelt. This makes anthropomorphism — the ascription of human emotions and intentionalities to nonhumans — a complicated communicative tool, as our human Umwelt inextricably dictates how we see and describe not only our own worlds, but also our expectations and assessments of other-than-human lived experience. While anthropomorphism can be controversial, it can be used productively and as a means to suggest, rather than deny, agency.27

14Madeline Stuart’s 2017 show at New York Fashion Week was titled “Snakes Alive, Girl Gone Wild”. Coverage of the show described models as wearing live snakes “like scarves”, and described the snakes as models themselves: “many of the bodies on the catwalk were cold-blooded”.28 Stuart thanked “New York Rent A Snake” (henceforth NYRAS) for allowing her to borrow a snake named Lucy, whom she kissed at the end of the runway. NYRAS self-describes as a business “For all your snake needs […] photography, music video, filming, theatrical and parties” and advertises that snakes are a “great attraction” for corporate events.29 That such a business exists is worthy of acknowledgement. The notion of renting a snake for the explicit purpose of accessorizing with a snake is apparently in reasonable demand. Just as the fashion industry is evolving to adapt to an entertainment-driven culture of consumption and celebrity influence, the snake-as-accessory “trend” has made live snakes into aspirational accessories that are worn by stars on red carpets, draped onto social media influencers, and clutched by supermodels at fashion weeks.

15A live snake on a runway is neither a scarf, a trend, nor a model, they are a sentient creature who fleetingly breaches a perceptual category. Describing snakes as “performers” and “models”, as is common in news media coverage of these events, creates a complex, somewhat contradictory perceptual structure wherein the snake theoretically has sufficient agency that they would consent or choose to perform as an entertainer. They are then celebrated for the execution of their performance and its potential to create a memorable cultural moment or otherwise contribute to achieving an artistic vision. Yet how live snakes are actually utilized in fashion-cum-entertainment is such that they are commodified and used as aesthetic artefacts. They are gripped tightly and positioned purposefully. By this display and usage, they are not agents.

  • 30 C. B. Christensen et al., ‘Hearing with an Atympanic Ear: Good Vibration and Poor Sound-Pressure De (...)
  • 31 C. B. Christensen et al., ‘Hearing with an Atympanic Ear’.

16There is little in the scholarly literature related to stress responses in snakes due to human contact. We know from studying their other inter or intraspecies encounters, though, that snakes are known to exhibit a number of defensive behaviours. These behaviours include freezing, tail rattling, fleeing, striking, hissing, writhing, biting, and balling up to protect their head. The snake’s discrepancy from the human form may present a barrier to designing experiments and ethograms for measuring and interpreting nuances of snake behaviour which could broaden our understanding of snakes’ mental lives. It is generally suggested, however, that snakes are remarkably sensitive to many stimuli.30 Though they are earless and do not hear airborne sounds as humans do, snakes are able to “hear” through vibration. Rather than responding to sound pressure, snakes respond to vibrations transmitted from the air to the skeleton which, along with other senses, aid snakes in hunting.31 Though these findings are taxonomically broad, they provide a starting place for approaching snake Umwelt. These combined data also suggest that snakes often prefer to flee when given an option to retreat, and they are sensitive to environmental changes. Loud music, with vibrations detectable to humans, would vibrate at a frequency that could potentially overwhelm a snake’s senses.

  • 32 24 Jane Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry Exposed’. IOL (04/02/2019), https:// (...)
  • 33 25 J. Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry’.
  • 34 Patrick Barkham, ‘The Question: How Cruel Is Snakeskin?’. The Guardian (03/10/2007), https://www.th (...)
  • 35 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.
  • 36 J. Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry’.
  • 37 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.
  • 38 Sarah Butler, ‘Gucci Owner Gets Teeth into Snakeskin Market with Python Farm’. The Guardian (25/01/ (...)

17Given the capacity for snakes to be stressed by environmental stimuli, the conditions of snake farms and methods of snake slaughter merit consideration. In addition to individual suffering, there are also species conservation concerns at the population level. Images on animal activism webpages portray the gruesome reality of snakes, mostly pythons, skinned alive by the hundreds of thousands each year.32 Because snakes have slow metabolisms, they might live for days without skin, dying slowly of dehydration.33 Though snakes shed their skins, this skin is too thin for use in clothing and accessories, so snakes must be killed for their skin to be harvested.34 In order to loosen the skin to facilitate its collection, snakes may first be starved, then forcibly pumped with water.35 Clifford Warwick, a biologist and former snake farm investigator, describes cramped conditions in snake farms where pythons can barely uncoil in tiny drawers.36 Snakes may be hunted and captured in the wild, or reared from birth in these farms.37 Gucci’s new python farm, which the company claimed would raise snakes in “the best conditions for animals, farmers and the ecosystem” is thought to drown its snakes in crates, which Warwick clarifies as no more humane than other methods of slaughter, such as nailing snakes to trees by their heads.38

18Apathy regarding killing can be effectively cultivated if the widely held perception is that the victims are immune or less sensitive to pain. As concluded by Patrick Bateson:

  • 39 Patrick Bateson, ‘Assessment of Pain in Animals’. Animal Behaviour 42, no. 5 (1991), p. 827-839.

The fuzziness of the boundary between those animals that are judged to feel pain and those that are not does not invalidate the process of assessment. However, the extent to which an animal is given the benefit of the doubt clearly depends on the empathy a person feels for it as well as the type of ethical concerns that motivate the person.39

  • 40 David Coleman, ‘Next Front: Protecting Animals That Aren’t So Cute’. The New York Times, (1997), ht (...)

19Relatedly Craig Hoover, then speaking as a representative of the World Wildlife Foundation, was quoted in a 1997 New York Times article on the challenges of “protecting animals that aren’t so cute” as he spoke about differences in outcry between fur farming and reptile farming: “[f]rom the humane standpoint, you can compare the two, but I don't think you're going to see anyone throwing red paint on a pair of python shoes”.40

  • 41 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.
  • 42 Sarah Butler, ‘Illegal Python Skins Feed Hunger for Fashionable Handbags and Shoes’. The Guardian ( (...)
  • 43 ‘Skins of Suffering: Fashion Trend Falls Hard on Reptiles’. Animal Welfare Institute, (2011), https (...)
  • 44 Alexander Kasterine, ‘The Trade in Southeast Asian Python Skins’. SSRN Scholarly Paper, Rochester, (...)

20If we turn to wild rather than farmed snakes, there is also the issue of conserving wild snake populations and their ecosystems, and concerns regarding the (un)sustainability of snakeskin fashions. According to Warwick, “[w]e are seeing smaller and smaller snakes caught and hunters having to travel across wider areas; classic signs of a species in decline”.41 While combined estimates of legal and illegal European imports of python skins once indicated a multi-billion dollar market, figures from The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) indicate global trade for raw reptile skins was hovering around 250 million Euro in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available.42 According to the Animal Welfare Institute, though, trade in reptile skins is largely unregulated which leads to challenges in tracking trade and determining which reptile taxa, let alone which species, are represented in these numbers.43 For instance, no Southeast Asian countries are listed as top exporters in the OEC report — though the snake trade in this region, especially for pythons, is well-established.44

  • 45 S. Butler, ‘Illegal Python Skins’.
  • 46 Rachel Nuwer, ‘Fashion Brands Had Thousands of Exotic Leather Goods Seized by U.S. Law Enforcement’ (...)
  • 47 Christina M. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python Comes at a Price’. Fashionista (02/06/2014), https:// (...)
  • 48 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.
  • 49 BBC News, ‘Chanel ends use of exotic skins in its fashion range’, (4/12/2018) https://www.bbc.com/n (...)

21The illegal trade in skins, mostly of pythons, originating from the same region of Asia is thought to represent about the same amount as the legal figure.45 Further, Rachel Nuwer reports for National Geographic that a common violation in the reptile skin industry is that animals illegally captured in the wild are falsely labelled as “captive bred” to fit certain trade standards.46 According to a 2012 International Trade Centre (ITC) report, there are five kinds of python skins (Reticulated python, Burmese python and three species of short-tailed python) commonly exported from Southeast Asia to (primarily) Europe.47 The luxury brands listed as importers include Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Burberry, Giorgio Armani and Chanel.48 Of these brands, only Chanel has stopped using exotic reptile skins; they announced in December 2018 they would not use exotic animal skins in any future collections.49

  • 50 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge, The Python’s Sorrow’. The New York Times, (18/06/2000), https://www. (...)
  • 51 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge’.
  • 52 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge’.

22In a regrettably foreshadowing 2000 New York Times piece tracing the rise of snakeskin in fashion, ‘Eve’s Revenge, the Python’s Sorrow’, C.J. Chivers asks, “[i]n an era of shrinking habitat, are there really enough pythons out there to outfit every acquisitive fashion princess?”.50 Chivers’s reporting indicated that snakeskin’s popular reception in luxury fashion traced back to the start of the millennium, declaring that “[o]nce, snakeskin had the fashion cachet of a prison tattoo […] [w]hat a difference a little marketing makes”. Herpetologist Peter Brazaitis is quoted: “[r]eticulated pythons are giant snakes, remarkable creatures, but they are not adequately protected, and their trade is barely regulated. Five years from now, if python fashion keeps going, how many of them will be left?”.51 In this same piece, a Jimmy Choo spokesperson candidly admits that regarding the python skins used by the fashion designer, “[i]t’s very rare, honestly, that we think about where they come from, and what the ecological impact might be”.52

3. Current controversies, recent changes, future directions

  • 53 Daniel Natusch et al., ‘Op-Ed | Why Chanel’s Exotic Skins Ban Is Wrong’. The Business of Fashion, ( (...)
  • 54 Jon Paul Rodríguez et al., ‘The Luxury Fashion Industry and the Benefits of Using Exotic Leathers’. (...)
  • 55 D. Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’.

23A complicated controversy sees animal and environmental activists’ interests at odds with prominent conservationists representing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the past three years, IUCN-affiliated scientists have written at least two open letters questioning whether fashion brands and department stores stopping sales of reptile skins is bad for reptile conservation.53 One letter appealed directly to luxury fashion CEOs and asked them to continue using exotic reptile skins in order to aid wildlife conservation.54 In a similar open letter published in 2019, the IUCN Species Survival Commission proclaimed, “[a]nimal rights organizations who pressure retailers to ban exotic leathers contribute little to wildlife conservation […] They seem to prefer species go extinct rather than be utilized”.55

  • 56 International Union for Conservation of Nature, ‘IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild L (...)
  • 57 R. Nuwer, ‘Fashion Brands Had Thousands of Exotic Leather Goods Seized’. E.C. Alberts, ‘Skin in the (...)
  • 58 Roberto Jurkschat, ‘The World’s Most Influential Animal Conservation Group Has Links To Trophy Hunt (...)
  • 59 R. Jurkschat, ‘The World’s Most Influential Animal Conservation Group’.

24The IUCN and their Species Survival Commissions are incredibly influential voices in science communication. While “species survival” sounds amicable as a goal, the commission is concerned in part with sustainable use of wildlife, which are considered “wild living resources”.56 Further, recent reporting highlights the fact that the IUCN receives funding from fashion industry groups, and some IUCN members consult for luxury brands.57 Elizabeth Claire Alberts’s extensive reporting provides a thorough summary of this ongoing controversy, so this article will not recapitulate these points. However, it calls attention to investigations which examined ties between the IUCN and powerful, wealthy lobbies: pro-trophy hunting, pro-exotic leather; as well as deep ties to luxury brands and companies. One biologist, speaking to BuzzFeed News in 2020, questioned whether the IUCN’s status as the world’s authority on science and conservation is still deserved given the extent to which they have been influenced by members with conflicting interests.58 This same article details how herpetologists Sabine and Thomas Vinke were ousted from the IUCN’s Boa and Python Specialist Group after campaigning for the red tegu, a South American species of lizard caught and killed for leather. When raised to the IUCN, Sabine Vinke claims they were told to “stop messing with the leather industry”, and the pair ultimately received a letter expressing their “anti-trade attitude” and saying their “radical anti-use” agenda was not in line with the goals of the IUCN.59

  • 60 ‘Chanel to Halt Use of Exotic Skins’. Women’s Wear Daily, (03/12/2018), https://wwd.com/fashion-new (...)
  • 61 D. Natusch et al., ‘Op-Ed | Why Chanel’s Exotic Skins Ban Is Wrong’.
  • 62 The question of imitation leathers meant to look authentic is a complicated question of its own; se (...)

25In 2018, Chanel announced they would stop using exotic reptile skins because they were unable to source leathers which met their ethical standards.60 Within three days, four IUCN scientists published the op-ed “Why Chanel’s Exotic Skins Ban Is Wrong” with an opening proclamation that “luxury fashion brands save species. Fact”.61 We may now ask if extinction and utilization are the only two futures for snakes and if not, if indeed there is a middle ground, what role the fashion system can play in finding it? For instance, with numerous alternative, sustainable plant-based “leathers” coming to market, meaning varieties of faux snakeskin leathers are increasingly available, how might these products bring awareness to snake conservation without requiring that snakes are slaughtered? How could it look to honour the natural beauty of snakeskin by emulating snakeskin versus taking it from snakes’ bodies?62

  • 63 Ella Alexander, ‘Mulberry Bans Exotic Skins from Future Collections’. Harper’s Bazaar, (05/05/2020) (...)
  • 64 ‘Nordstrom Bans Fur and Exotic Animal Skins’, (29/09/2020), https://press.nordstrom.com/node/43316/ (...)
  • 65 Natalie Theodosi, ‘Selfridges to Ban Exotic Skins’. Women’s Wear Daily (blog), (26/02/2019), https: (...)
  • 66 D. Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’.
  • 67 Jasmin Malik Chua, ‘Are Exotic Skins Out of Fashion?’. The New York Times, (21/09/2020), https://ww (...)
  • 68 Yeong-Hyeon Choi and Kyu-Hye Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials: Focused on Fake (...)
  • 69 Y. Choi and K. Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials’.
  • 70 Sascha Camilli, ‘Stella McCartney Brings Animal Rights Message to Paris Fashion Week’, Plant Based (...)
  • 71 ‘Only Me: About the Brand’. Only Me, https://onlyme-world.com/about [last accessed on 04/06/2021].
  • 72 Kate Bennett, ‘First on CNN: Melania Trump No Longer Wears Fur’. CNN, (03/05/2017), https://www.cnn (...)
  • 73 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’. Morgan Schimminger, ‘Naomi Watts and Other Best Dressed Celeb (...)

26At multiple levels of the fashion system, exotic reptile skins are out, leaving room for replacements. Individual design houses including Mulberry, Victoria Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, and Paul Smith no longer use them.63 In 2020, department store Nordstrom announced they would stop selling both fur and exotic skins, in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States.64 This decision was preceded by British retailer Selfridges’ announcement to stop selling exotic skins — skins of pythons, lizards, alligators, and crocodiles — and only sell leather “from agricultural livestock”.65 The Selfridges decision precipitated a similar open letter from the IUCN as the Chanel decision did.66 And though only smaller fashion weeks have thus far banned exotic skins (Melbourne and Helsinki, respectively, in 2018; Stockholm in 2020), London Fashion Week banned fur in 2018 — indicating other animal skins could see event-wide bans in years to come.67 A 2021 study found that consumers are increasingly attuned to ethical, social, and environmental issues within the fashion industry.68 Concerns about animal cruelty have increased interest in vegan fashion, including artificial furs and leathers.69 Since launching in 2001 Stella McCartney has refused to use leather, fur, or animal-derived glue in her collections.70 Lesser known but equally active is Only Me, a Russian producer of “eco faux furs”, based in Saint Petersburg. Endorsed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Only Me is a brand founded on cruelty-free principles. In addition to showcasing their collections of bright, bold faux fur coats and jackets, their social media regularly features pro-animal celebrities and causes for almost 220,000 Instagram followers. Stella McCartney and Only Me are only two examples successfully merging fashion-forward designs, a prominent “cruelty free” message, and animal activism. Founded in 2011 and now with over 30 locations worldwide, Only Me’s growth indicates embrace of this branding model.71 After Only Me gifted a faux lamb fur coat to former United States First Lady Melania Trump, CNN reported she would no longer wear fur, indicating the impact ethical fashion brands can have by leveraging influential public figures.72 Similarly, after actress Reese Witherspoon stopped carrying python bags due to animal cruelty concerns, she carried a Stella McCartney faux python clutch to a movie premiere; Naomi Watts toted a similar faux python Stella McCartney bag for the 2012 Tribeca Ball.73

  • 74 Anna Battista, ‘The New Frontier of Copyright Infringement: Copying a Detail’. Irenebrination: Note (...)
  • 75 A. Battista, ‘The New Frontier of Copyright Infringement’.
  • 76 Rosy Cherrington, ‘Ashish Brought Bollywood To Brewer Street For LFW’. HuffPost UK, (19/09/2016), h (...)
  • 77 Véronique Hyland, ‘Snakes on a Runway at Sydney Fashion Week’. The Cut (08/04/2014), https://www.th (...)

27As faux snakeskin leathers and furs have become increasingly popular, live snakes have maintained a narrow niche in contemporary fashion shows, as accessories to stories told on the runway. In Gucci’s Autumn/Winter 2018 show at Milan Fashion Week, one model walked the runway with a live California Mountain Kingsnake — the same red, black, and white striped snake that has recurred in Gucci designs since Alessandro Michele was appointed fashion director of the luxury house.74 Gucci has even registered two snake logos as trademarks.75 But in terms of “shock factor”, the snake was overshadowed by models carrying replicas of their own severed heads, one model carried a baby dragon; another model had a prosthetic third eye on her forehead. The show was shocking, memorable, without the snake because the snake was carried alongside outlandish monsters which drew viewers into the fantasy world of runway; the snake was comparatively commonplace. Ashish’s SS17 show at the London Fashion Week featured a snake on the runway as part of a Bollywood-themed show, suggesting the snake fit a vision of a fantasized exotic aesthetic for the Delhi-born designer.76 Though there is nothing specifically Bollywood about a snake, it was thought to fit in with the desired exotic image of India. Again, as in the Gucci show, Ashish’s show aestheticized other aspects of India’s “exoticism” and told a story which could have been told without using a live snake. And though Gucci’s and Ashish’s snake connections are linked to specific artistic visions, other snakes on runways have less obvious connections to the collections in which they are featured. For example, Australian brand We Are Handsome draped a model with a snake at the 2014 Sydney Fashion Week “to create an atmosphere of happy fun”.77 Regardless of motivation, can artistic visions for fashion storytelling be maintained without forcing snakes to participate in environments unsuitable for them? While still embracing the artistry and theatricality of fashion, consumers are increasingly attentive to the ethics both behind the scenes, in production, and in live performance. Just as Britney Spears steered other celebrities and later the public toward wearing snakes, can fashion steer away from animal bodies as accessories? Will increased attention to ethicality in fashion ultimately demand this shift?

4. Conclusion

28There is a scarcity of literature related to snakes’ stressability as influenced by anthropogenic factors, and nothing which specifically considers how live snakes used in entertainment, such as on red carpets or runways, might be deleteriously impacted by such environments. Nevertheless, we may theorize about snake Umwelt through understanding snake biology, their sensory abilities, and how they navigate the world. Snakes are sensitive to many stimuli and prefer to flee from predators, including humans. The restraint involved to ensure a snake “performs” properly as a fashion accessory disallows bodily autonomy and expression of defensive behaviours, including the ability to flee, which is tantamount to revokement of agency as the snake cannot make choices or consent to participate in such events in the first place. In addition to the “trend” of wearing live snakes as accessories, demand for snakeskin has maintained both the legal and illegal markets for the luxury product, including construction of snake farms—signalling impending industrialization of snakeskin production.

  • 78 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

29Though snakes are raised and killed in ways known to be extraordinarily inhumane, in comparison with anti-fur campaigns, snake farming does not see the same level of outcry — though things are changing as snakes, included in the umbrella category of “exotic skins”, are being left out of some designers’ future collections. Myths and misinformation about reptiles’ (in)ability to feel pain, entrenched cultural symbolism of snakes as evil, and the glamorization of snakes and their skins have compounded to carve out a lucrative niche in the fashion system which is endorsed by prominent science communication bodies like the IUCN. Although some designers are sparing snakes, and though the market for buying exotic skins is not large — only the very affluent can afford it — it brings in a lot of money, and there are powerful people with vested interests in promoting snakeskin fashions.78

  • 79 Y. Choi and K. Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials’.

30Whether alive or dead, snakes-as-accessories are trivialized and passivized as objects to be dominated by humans for sake of aesthetics. Although the powerful forces of fashion have in the past had dreadful impact on the treatment of snakes, they also have potential to affect positive change for snakes in a consumer market increasingly driven by ethical concerns.79

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Notes

1 I am unsure of the tiger’s sex and use “they/them/their” as a singular pronoun in this paper (when sex is unknown) so as not to diminish nonhuman animal personhood; see Donald G. MacKay and Toshi Konishi, ‘Personification and the Pronoun Problem’. Women’s Studies International Quarterly 3, no. 2 (1980), p. 149-63.

2 Sarah Anne Hughes, ‘Justin Bieber Puts Snake up for Charity Auction’. Washington Post (blog), (08/11/2011), https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/justin-bieber-puts-snake-up-for-charity-auction/2011/11/08/gIQAXdY31M_blog.html [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

3 Ben Guarino, ‘The Boa Constrictor That Bit Nicki Minaj’s Backup Dancer Is Not An Accessory’. The Dodo, (26/08/2014), https://www.thedodo.com/the-boa-constrictor-that-bit-n-692030769.html [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

4 B. Guarino, ‘The Boa Constrictor That Bit Nicki Minaj’s Backup Dancer’.

5 ‘Tana Mongeau Brings a Vintage Britney Spears Moment to the 2019 MTV VMAs Red Carpet’. Billboard, (26/08/2019), https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/awards/8528390/mtv-vmas-2019-tana-mongeau-snake-red-carpet [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

Maeve McDermott, ‘Live Snakes at the VMAs? H.E.R. and Tana Mongeau Wear Reptiles on the Red Carpet’. USA TODAY, (26/08/2019), https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2019/08/26/vmas-2019-h-e-r-and-tana-mongeau-wear-live-snakes-red-carpet/2126619001/ [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

6 Paige Gawley, ‘H.E.R. on Why She Brought a Real Python to the 2019 VMAs Red Carpet (Exclusive)’. Entertainment Tonight, (27/08/2019), https://www.etonline.com/her-on-why-she-brought-a-real-python-to-the-2019-vmas-red-carpet-exclusive-131331 [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

7 Marc Bain, ‘Now That Shopping Has Become an Entertainment, Fashion Brands Need to Act like Media Companies’. Quartz, (23/09/2016), https://qz.com/770162/now-that-shopping-is-entertainment-fashion-brands-need-to-act-like-media-companies/ [last accessed on 14/08/2021].

8 Brian Moeran, ‘More Than Just a Fashion Magazine’. Current Sociology 54, no. 5 (2006), p. 725-744.

9 ‘Prime Time Reptile Rental’, http://broadwayanimals.com/services.html [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

‘New York Rent A Snake on Facebook’, https://www.facebook.com/Newyorkrentasnake/ [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

10 Elizabeth Claire Alberts, ‘Skin in the Game? Reptile Leather Trade Embroils Conservation Authority’. Mongabay, (19/04/2021), https://news.mongabay.com/2021/04/skin-in-the-game-reptile-leather-trade-embroils-conservation-authority/ [last accessed on 14/08/2021]. Since both the fashion industry and global trade data tend to group snakes (all species) together with other reptiles used for their skins under a category of “exotic skins” (differentiated from cow leather and from fur), I use this same language throughout so I do not misrepresent snakes as their unique category (unless they are explicitly considered as such in the source material). Patrick W. Aust et al., ‘Asian Snake Farms: Conservation Curse or Sustainable Enterprise?’. Oryx 51, no. 3 (2017), p. 498-505.

11 The Observatory of Economic Complexity, ‘Reptile Skins, Raw’ (2019), https://oec.world/en/profile/hs92/reptile-skins-raw [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

12 Daniel Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’, IUCN (25/03/2019), https://www.iucn.org/crossroads-blog/201903/banning-exotic-leather-bad-reptiles [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

13 Sue Reid, ‘Getting Under Their Skin’. The Sunday Times (London) (16/02/1997).

14 Grahame Webb, Charlie Manolis, and Robert WG Jenkins, ‘Improving International Systems for Trade in Reptile Skins Based on Sustainable Use’. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012), https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/ditcted2011d7_en.pdf [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

15 PanAm Leathers, ‘Ethics of the Reptile Skin Trade: History’, https://www.panamleathers.com/blog/ethicshistory [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

16 S. Reid, ‘Getting Under Their Skin’.

New York Costume Institute, “Fashions of the Hapsburg Era: Austria-Hungary. Metropolitan Museum of Art, (1979).

17 Chris Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion: 1882-1912’, Mrs. Daffodil Digresses (blog), (04/10/2017), https://mrsdaffodildigresses.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/snake-skins-in-fashion-1882-1912/ [last accessed on 02/06/2021]. The Victoria & Albert Museum has several examples of 19th century men’s shoes and slippers made entirely or partly of snakeskin, see for instance inv. AP.41-1860, or inv. AP.6&A-1868.

18 Grahame Webb, Charlie Manolis, and Robert Jenkins, ‘Improving International Systems for Trade in Reptile Skins Based on Sustainable Use’. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2011), p. 1-18.

19 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

20 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

21 C. Woodyard, ‘Snake-Skins in Fashion’.

22 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

23 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

24 George Feldhamer et al., ‘Charismatic Mammalian Megafauna: Public Empathy and Marketing Strategy’. Journal of Popular Culture 36, no. 1 (2002), p. 160-67. Jamie Lorimer, ‘Nonhuman Charisma’. Environment and Planning: Society and Space 25, no. 5 (2007), p. 911-32.

25 J. Lorimer, ‘Nonhuman Charisma’. p. 912.

26 Jakob von Uexküll and Doris L. Mackinnon, Theoretical Biology, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd. Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1926.

27 Fredrik Karlsson, ‘Critical Anthropomorphism and Animal Ethics’. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25, no. 5 (2012), p. 707-20. This also has echoes with Philippe Descola, Par-delà nature et culture. Paris: Gallimard, 2015.

28 ‘Model with Down Syndrome Madeline Stuart Wears a Live Snake as a Scarf’, Yahoo, (13/09/2017), https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/model-syndrome-madeline-stuart-returned-nyfw-time-snake-181731252.html [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

29 ‘New York Rent A Snake’ (@newyorkrentasnake) Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/newyorkrentasnake/ [last accessed on 13/12/2019].

30 C. B. Christensen et al., ‘Hearing with an Atympanic Ear: Good Vibration and Poor Sound-Pressure Detection in the Royal Python, Python Regius’. Journal of Experimental Biology 215, no. 2 (2012), p. 331-42.

31 C. B. Christensen et al., ‘Hearing with an Atympanic Ear’.

32 24 Jane Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry Exposed’. IOL (04/02/2019), https://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style-beauty/fashion/watch-the-vile-cruelty-behind-the-snakeskin-industry-exposed-19119031 [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

33 25 J. Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry’.

34 Patrick Barkham, ‘The Question: How Cruel Is Snakeskin?’. The Guardian (03/10/2007), https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/oct/03/fashion.animalwelfare [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

35 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.

36 J. Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry’.

37 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.

38 Sarah Butler, ‘Gucci Owner Gets Teeth into Snakeskin Market with Python Farm’. The Guardian (25/01/2017), https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/25/gucci-snakeskin-python-farm-kering-saint-laurent-and-alexander-mcqueen [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

J. Fryer, ‘The Vile Cruelty behind the Snakeskin Industry’.

39 Patrick Bateson, ‘Assessment of Pain in Animals’. Animal Behaviour 42, no. 5 (1991), p. 827-839.

40 David Coleman, ‘Next Front: Protecting Animals That Aren’t So Cute’. The New York Times, (1997), http://www.anapsid.org/reptileskin.html [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

41 P. Barkham, ‘The Question’.

42 Sarah Butler, ‘Illegal Python Skins Feed Hunger for Fashionable Handbags and Shoes’. The Guardian (31/03/2014), https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/31/illegally-traded-python-skins-black-market [last accessed on 21/05/2021]

43 ‘Skins of Suffering: Fashion Trend Falls Hard on Reptiles’. Animal Welfare Institute, (2011), https://awionline.org/awi-quarterly/2011-fall/skins-suffering-fashion-trend-falls-hard-reptiles [last accessed on 21/05/2021]

44 Alexander Kasterine, ‘The Trade in Southeast Asian Python Skins’. SSRN Scholarly Paper, Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network (14/11/2012).

45 S. Butler, ‘Illegal Python Skins’.

46 Rachel Nuwer, ‘Fashion Brands Had Thousands of Exotic Leather Goods Seized by U.S. Law Enforcement’. National Geographic, (22/05/2020), https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/luxury-fashion-wildlife-imports-seized [last accessed on 21/05/2021].

47 Christina M. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python Comes at a Price’. Fashionista (02/06/2014), https://fashionista.com/2014/06/python-fashion [last accessed on 21/05/2021]

48 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

49 BBC News, ‘Chanel ends use of exotic skins in its fashion range’, (4/12/2018) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46449396 [last accessed on 29/08/2021].

50 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge, The Python’s Sorrow’. The New York Times, (18/06/2000), https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/18/style/eve-s-revenge-the-python-s-sorrow.html [last accessed on 02/06/2021].

51 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge’.

52 C. J. Chivers, ‘Eve’s Revenge’.

53 Daniel Natusch et al., ‘Op-Ed | Why Chanel’s Exotic Skins Ban Is Wrong’. The Business of Fashion, (2018), https://www.businessoffashion.com/opinions/sustainability/op-ed-why-chanels-exotic-skins-ban-is-wrong [last accessed on 02/06/2021].

D. Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’.

54 Jon Paul Rodríguez et al., ‘The Luxury Fashion Industry and the Benefits of Using Exotic Leathers’. IUCN, (08/2020), https://06d94708-52b2-4bed-a906-c09a2d1f971e.filesusr.com/ugd/67e045_7c5af6b179a647008fba523389010601.pdf [last accessed on 02/06/2021].

55 D. Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’.

56 International Union for Conservation of Nature, ‘IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources’, (10/2000), https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/documents/Rep-2000-054.pdf [last accessed on 02/06/2021].

57 R. Nuwer, ‘Fashion Brands Had Thousands of Exotic Leather Goods Seized’. E.C. Alberts, ‘Skin in the Game?’.

58 Roberto Jurkschat, ‘The World’s Most Influential Animal Conservation Group Has Links To Trophy Hunters And The Fashion Industry’. BuzzFeed News, (26/03/2020), https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/robertojurkschat/red-list-iucn-trophy-hunting [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

59 R. Jurkschat, ‘The World’s Most Influential Animal Conservation Group’.

60 ‘Chanel to Halt Use of Exotic Skins’. Women’s Wear Daily, (03/12/2018), https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/chanel-to-halt-use-of-exotic-skins-1202920043/ [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

61 D. Natusch et al., ‘Op-Ed | Why Chanel’s Exotic Skins Ban Is Wrong’.

62 The question of imitation leathers meant to look authentic is a complicated question of its own; see for example: Susan M. Turner, ‘Beyonde Viande: The Ethics of Faux Flesh, Fake Fur and Thriftshop Leather’. Between the Species: An Online Journal for the Study of Philosophy and Animals 13, no. 5 (2005), https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=bts [last accessed on 29/08/2021].

63 Ella Alexander, ‘Mulberry Bans Exotic Skins from Future Collections’. Harper’s Bazaar, (05/05/2020), https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/fashion-news/a32375563/mulberry-bans-exotic-skins-from-future-collections/ [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

64 ‘Nordstrom Bans Fur and Exotic Animal Skins’, (29/09/2020), https://press.nordstrom.com/node/43316/pdf [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

65 Natalie Theodosi, ‘Selfridges to Ban Exotic Skins’. Women’s Wear Daily (blog), (26/02/2019), https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/selfridges-ban-exotic-skins-1203054356/ [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

66 D. Natusch et al., ‘Is Banning Exotic Leather Bad for Reptiles?’.

67 Jasmin Malik Chua, ‘Are Exotic Skins Out of Fashion?’. The New York Times, (21/09/2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/21/style/exotic-skins-fashion-covid.html [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

68 Yeong-Hyeon Choi and Kyu-Hye Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials: Focused on Fake Fur and Fake Leather’. Sustainability 13, no. 1 (2021), p. 436.

69 Y. Choi and K. Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials’.

70 Sascha Camilli, ‘Stella McCartney Brings Animal Rights Message to Paris Fashion Week’, Plant Based News, (09/03/2020), https://plantbasednews.org/lifestyle/stella-mccartney-animal-rights-message-paris-fashion-week/ [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

71 ‘Only Me: About the Brand’. Only Me, https://onlyme-world.com/about [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

72 Kate Bennett, ‘First on CNN: Melania Trump No Longer Wears Fur’. CNN, (03/05/2017), https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/melania-trump-no-fur/index.html [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

73 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’. Morgan Schimminger, ‘Naomi Watts and Other Best Dressed Celebs of the Week’. TheFashionSpot (blog), (20/04/2012), https://www.thefashionspot.com/celebrity-fashion/173395-naomi-watts-and-other-best-dressed-celebs-of-the-week/ [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

74 Anna Battista, ‘The New Frontier of Copyright Infringement: Copying a Detail’. Irenebrination: Notes on Architecture, Art, Fashion, Fashion Law & Technology (blog), (03/11/2016), https://www.irenebrination.com/irenebrination_notes_on_a/2016/11/gucci-snakes.html [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

75 A. Battista, ‘The New Frontier of Copyright Infringement’.

76 Rosy Cherrington, ‘Ashish Brought Bollywood To Brewer Street For LFW’. HuffPost UK, (19/09/2016), https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ashish-spring-summer-2017_uk_57e023bae4b028e52a11b312 [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

77 Véronique Hyland, ‘Snakes on a Runway at Sydney Fashion Week’. The Cut (08/04/2014), https://www.thecut.com/2014/04/snakes-on-a-runway-at-sydney-fashion-week.html [last accessed on 04/06/2021].

78 C. Russo, ‘Fashion’s Love of Python’.

79 Y. Choi and K. Lee, ‘Ethical Consumers’ Awareness of Vegan Materials’.

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Annika Hugosson, « Snakes’ commodification within the fashion system »Apparence(s) [En ligne], 11 | 2022, mis en ligne le 11 février 2022, consulté le 04 juillet 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/apparences/3881 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/apparences.3881

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Annika Hugosson

Annika Hugosson is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) studying sociocultural anthropology

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