UPDATE: For those who have any doubt that Ms. Degeneres is backing out of her vegan commitment, it was announced today by Women's Wear Daily (WWD) that Ms. Degeneres is also launching a menswear line with Kanye West. Kanye avidly promotes the fur industry with his wife, Kim Kardashian. Business partner Chris Burch told WWD how Ms. Degeneres is involved in every detail of her line, "Ellen is like literally the most on-it, exciting, passionate person in every category. Her taste level, creativity, desires and curiosity are awesome. She is always sending pictures. She always wants to do a tweak, a twist to a shoe or clothing but it's got to be true to who she is … When I got into business with her, I knew how great she was. But I had no idea the attention and the creativity she would bring to this thing."
PETA, reacting to the viral tweets regarding Ms. Degeneres' choice to use leather in her footwear line, sent out a tweet that they have not made a statement regarding this yet.
Ellen DeGeneres is facing a backlash from her animal-loving fans after launching a new footwear line. The shoe line, called ED by Ellen, features leather boots and is manufactured in Brazil by the Camuto Group — the billion dollar leather business behind Nine West. The ED by Ellen shoe line is being marketed and sold by Bergdorf Goodman in NYC and the products will be available online as well as in other stores throughout the country and internationally in the spring.
Animal rights activists are taking to social media to call out Ms. Degeneres for being a "hypocrite," for doing a "moral about-face" and for selling "boots made out of the skins of dead cows."
The entertainer purports to be an ethical vegan who is against the abuse of animals in factory-farms.
"I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things with feelings," said Ellen Degeneres. "I just couldn't disconnect myself from it any longer."
Facing a public relations disaster after being outed on social media, Ms. Degeneres quickly removed a photo from her Facebook page of her and her wife posing with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at the NYC launch party.
Celebrating @edbyellen last night at BG w/ @kanyewest @theellenshow @portiaderossi @kimkardashian #EllenAtBergdorfs pic.twitter.com/Ix7Ep5WuwY
— Bergdorf Goodman (@Bergdorfs) September 11, 2015
"She must have been getting blow-back from her friends with taste over her association with a fur-hag and her egotist husband," said a comedy writer who worked with Ms. Degeneres. "She's too star-struck to give up that picture without a really good reason."
Leather is a product of the factory farming business. According to PETA, every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals. Many of these animals endure extreme crowding and confinement, deprivation, and castration without anesthesia, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning — as well as cruel treatment during transport and slaughter.
Adding to the suspicions of the animal welfare community, the leather boots in the ED by Ellen line are the only items of the line missing on Ms. Degeneres' web site. Yet, they are being advertised on BergdorfGoodman.com. Omitting the leather products from Ms. Degeneres' website is clearly a choice and public relations strategy to not alienate her large vegan fan base. Other items in the line include T-shirts with cute drawings of goats and dogs. There is also a cheese cutting board in the form of a pig and cheese knives — items that seem incongruous to a vegan lifestyle. Vegans do not eat any animal products including dairy products.
"It's obviously all about the money for her. She doesn't give a damn about the animals," said Sarah Winnick, an Ellen fan and animal advocate. "And, she is demeaning workers here in America by sending jobs overseas. She could have easily manufactured a vegan shoe line right here in Los Angeles."
I spoke with a dozen representatives of the shoe line including employees of the Camuto Group, Bergdorf Goodman, and Public relations employees at ED by Ellen. "Jackie" of The Camuto Group told me that the boots are "genuine leather, genuine suede."
Another employee of the Camuto group, Kristina Bones, reluctantly told me that though she doesn't work on that line, all of Camuto's footwear is genuine leather. Sensing a public relations problem, she referred me to Sarah Rosen, VP of communication for the Camuto Group, who could not be reached for comment.
Several employees at Bergdorf Goodman were clear —"the Ellen boots are leather."
Calls made to ED by Ellen were problematic, with employees carefully guarding information. "We can't give you that information at this time," said one employee who was deliberately vague and who refused to give her name. "We will have our director of communications call you," she said. This reporter asked a simple question of ED by Ellen representatives: "Are the boots leather, yes or no?" "We do not have that info," was the reply. "We do not have them on our website at this time."
Another employee of
ED by Ellen, clearly defensive, called this reporter asking "Who do you work for? Who are you? And why do you want to know?" Calling back, Tandi, yet another ED by Ellen employee unable to give a last name, told this reporter that the PR department had finally issued a statement on the matter: "The shoe line is predominantly made with natural fibers however they will be using a little bit of leather as well."
The Camuto Group sells millions of leather shoes. So, Ellen Degeneres' fans who are animal welfare advocates are left wondering just how many cows will die for the "little bit of leather" in Ellen's new shoe biz.
This post has been updated to include the news of Ms. Degeneres' partnership with Kanye West, as well as the response from PETA.
Additional reporting by Mary Cummins
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