Helsinki Fashion Week is taking an admirable step to curb animal abuse by excluding fashion labels that use animal leather, starting in 2019.

“We at Helsinki Fashion Week, with the support of the Nordic Fashion Week Association, are taking an active stand against cruelty to animals and the damaging environmental impacts that the use of animal leather brings with it,” said Evelyn Mora, founder of Helsinki Fashion Week

The last few years have seen a torrent of big-name designers and retailers putting an end to the use of fur, mohair and angora in their collections, but the issue of leather remains relatively unaddressed.

PETA states that the leather industry is responsible for the deaths of more than one billion animals each year, with the majority of leather coming from animals killed in China and India. Investigations into animals used for this industry reveal unthinkable suffering and cruelty.

Not only is the leather industry torture for animals, it’s also incredibly damaging to the environment. The tanning process produces toxins which often end up in water supplies.

A report entitled “Pulse of Fashion Industry,” released in 2017, found that cow leather is far more environmentally damaging than any vegan alternative.

Helsinki Fashion Week is the first event of its kind to ban animal leather, but this doesn’t mean leather is off the menu completely, so to speak – there is a wide range of eco-friendly, plant-based leathers on the market these days, including the uniquely sustainable pineapple leather – or Piñatex – used by Hugo Boss in their vegan line of shoes.