Every day at FOUR PAWS, our teams on the ground face new challenges and obstacles in their fight to free animals from suffering. Today, we would like to introduce you to Jessica Medcalf, our Global Animal Welfare in Textiles Lead, who leads the global Wear It Kind program. Jessica plays a pivotal role in supporting our projects on fur, farmed animals and mulesing.
When did you start working for FOUR PAWS? What drew you to the company?
I started working for FOUR PAWS in 2019, after being a consultant to the organisation for some time before that. I was initially asked for support with our mulesing campaign, an issue I felt strongly about, and knew that if FOUR PAWS, a brave and strategic organisation, was behind it – change was set to happen!
What are your responsibilities/ what do you do in your job?
Today I lead FOUR PAWS Wear it Kind program globally, a program focused on protecting the two billion animals which are used in textiles every year, who have little if any protection afforded to them and we want this to change. In my role I spend much of my time engaging brands, standard owners and other stakeholders to highlight cruelty issues and encourage support for more animal friendly solutions.
What is it about animals that inspires you every day to continue your work?
The sheer scale of animal suffering we force them to endure certainly keeps me going. At the same time seeing progress happen and knowing we’re on the right track is very motivating. Also knowing that there’s a community of people willing to speak up, give their time or donate is heartening!
What is your favourite animal? Why?
I’ve always been a huge fan of black cockatoos. There are a few different species of them but I’m in awe of them all. I love seeing groups fly freely together, their unique wing movements and calls to one another - it is just something else!
Are there any important lessons you have learnt from your experiences that you use in normal day to day life?
I’ve certainly learnt to keep an open mind and to question. No matter what I read, watch or hear, no matter what publication or personality, I try to consider it openly. But also ask – what’s behind this? Why am I being fed this information? How have these conclusions been drawn?
How do you think the fashion industry in Australia has evolved since the start of the Wear It Kind Campaign?
Since we started Wear it Kind, many brands did not even have an animal welfare policy. Over the years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of brands including animal welfare in their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies, and animal welfare is now much more accepted as a critical pillar of ethical fashion overall.
What do Aussies think about animal welfare in fashion?
Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.
Do you think Australians are more animal conscious when shopping now? If so, why do you think this change has occurred?
Yes absolutely. There has been a growing interest in animal welfare for sometime, but couple that with the increased availability of animal-friendly products and also the monumental mind-shift that the pandemic brought, we’re seeing shopping trends for animals change for the better. But of course, we still need more people on this trajectory.
What is your most successful achievement from your work on Animals in Fashion campaign?
Seeing major retailers Kmart and Country Road group take a strong position on mulesing was something both those companies and the whole movement should be very proud of. As well as continuously helping brands like Reformation, Brueninger and Levi’s take steps to rule out cruel practices! However, what I’m most proud of is how FOUR PAWS has invested the time to set up a long-term program that helps to create long-term changes. We want animals to be treated with respect, empathy and understanding and we’re delivering on that via our work to protect animals within fashion.
What do you think has been the biggest impact of the Wear it Kind movement in Australia?
The biggest impact of the Wear it Kind movement is the consumer awareness. Before our program started many hadn’t heard of mulesing, or issues like the live plucking of geese for puffer jackets. Awareness around alternative materials like cactus leather, flower down, recycled yarns and more is also growing. People now aren’t just starting to think about their food choices but their clothing options too. And it’s us the people that ultimately can make change happen!