In the December 2008 issue of Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a writer asked Glen O’Brien, the magazine’s ‘Style Guy’, who answers questions from readers on fashion, style, etc., what options were out there for someone who wanted to replace a beloved, yet aging leather jacket with a more humane choice. Sadly, rather than take this opportunity to let readers know about the wealth of animal- and eco-friendly products available today, Mr. O’Brien responded by writing that, were it not for leather and the beef industry, cows would likely be extinct and that “…in a way, leather jackets are giving them work.” He ended with a brief statement about how all animal products should be used with respect for the creature, which, as anyone familiar at all with factory farming and slaughterhouses already knows, is not how it works at all. Not to mention that it doesn’t seem all that respectful to kill the animal in the first place, regardless of how nice you are to it up until that point.

With all this in mind, I decided to write my first Letter to the Editor, which I have included below. I encourage you to write to to ask for a piece devoted to leather-free and animal-friendly wares for the stylish man. I really do think it would make for a good piece. And, yes, that is a pretty awesome subject line.

You can read the original question and answer at here.

Mooved to Tears

I realize that Glen O’Brien’s Style Guy section, which, as a subscriber and avid reader of GQ, I always look forward to, is not primarily concerned with the ethics of the world. Despite that fact, I was pretty disappointed when I saw his reaction in the December 2008 issue to a writer asking him about faux leather wares, specifically a jacket. As a long-time vegan and animal rights advocate, it’s always been a challenge finding stylish clothing and accessories that don’t come with a hefty weight on my conscience. But it’s a challenge that I take up whole-heartedly and, with the growing polarity of vegetarianism and eco-friendly fashion in the world today, things are only getting easier. At the very least, this would have been a great opportunity to let your readers know that there are many options out there for the stylish guy who chooses not to wear leather or even wool and silk. Places like MooShoes on Orchard Street in the LES are great sources for animal-friendly gear and people like Joshua Katcher of the Discerning Brute are great sources for information on stylish vegan wares from both specialty shops and mainstream designers. And with such popular names as Natalie Portman creating a vegan shoe line and Steven Alan starting an organic line, there seems to be a strong trend toward ethical responsibility with many designers today.

I could go on and on about how buying leather directly supports factory farming and slaughterhouses, not only providing millions of animals with lives full of pain and suffering, but also doing a pretty great job of totally screwing the environment, but that information’s readily-available, accurate, and well-documented. I’d love to see you all do a piece in a coming issue on an animal-friendly wardrobe. Face it: the material’s rife with opportunity for a witty enough writer. And it’d be great to, at the very least, let readers know that there are many stylish, chic options for someone who doesn’t want leather or wool in their life any more. We’re not relegated to Payless shoes and polyester suits anymore.

If you do anything of the like, I’ll obviously volunteer more information and fashionable vegans or vegetarians you could talk to. I’ll even go the extra mile and volunteer myself for a style makeover where you could buy me tons of lovely, hip, animal-friendly clothes and accessories. Not a problem at all.

So, please do take these words to heart. I think it’d make for a great piece. At the very least, maybe a brief return from Mr. O’Brien, to whom I still tip my hemp fedora. Really. Don’t laugh.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

Troy Farmer