Three activists disrupted the Coach runway show during New York Fashion Week 2023 protesting the use of leather in the fashion industry
Los Angeles, September 26th, 2023 — In a show of compassionate bravado that made global headlines, three animal rights activists disrupted the Coach runway show at New York Fashion Week 2023, held at the iconic New York Public Library Main Branch in Manhattan. They were protesting against the use of leather in the fashion industry. In a daring move, they managing to walk the runway for more than a minute while being observed by a slew of celebrity spectators including Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Jennifer Lopez.
Looking Like Models Helps
Two of the activists pretended to be models showing off the company’s Spring 2024 ready-to-wear collection. They suddenly jumped onto the runway, strutting forward with confidence while displaying their anti-leather messaging.
They managed to traverse four runways before security grabbed them. One of the activists, Sasha Monik Zemmel, had her body painted to look like an animal’s skinned body, showing muscles and tendons. The other, actress Jamie Logan, held a sign reading “Coach: Leather Kills.” Zemmel also had that painted onto their chest. A third activist, Rachel Levy, coordinated the stunt for PETA, rolling video on the entire action. The well-planned action garnered headlines on CNN and People Magazine and a slew of other mainstream media outlets.
UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell scored an exclusive interview with this team of Fashion Week disruptors, which you can watch here:
Disrupting New York Fashion Shows Is Not Easy
Sasha Monik Zemmel is an animal and human rights activist from St. Louis, Missouri. She is an organizer for the Direct Action Everywhere St. Louis chapter and a PETA member. She explained the many challenges she had to overcome to pull off this New York Fashion Week stunt:
“I was body-painted for five hours. It was extremely uncomfortable and I couldn’t eat because I was just so anxious. By the end of it, I couldn’t feel my toes. I was shaking so vigorously… It was not fun, but again, it’s nothing compared to what the animals go through, so I just gripped my teeth and would bear it.”
Then, once the disruption began, the difficulty escalated. She revealed to UnchainedTV what she was feeling as she walked with purpose and panache down the four runways.
“A lot of these disruptions, you’re putting yourself out there to be completely vulnerable. I was naked besides underwear, pasties, and shoes. Just putting yourself out there for public backlash. Also, the fear of being violently tackled. I’m very grateful and fortunate to have not been tackled at this action.”
“Leather is one of those things that people ignore. But, at the end of the day, it’s the skin of a being who wanted to live; a being who screamed. Leather is a product of violence.”— Sasha Monik Zemmel, activist
Jamie Logan was not so lucky. She was fiercely tackled by security at New York Fashion Week, taken down as she rounded the bend heading into the fourth runway. Logan is a multi-talented actress, comic journalist, and animal rights activist who works with a variety of organizations, including PETA, UnchainedTV, GenV, and V-Kind. Jamie stars on her own channel on the UnchainedTV streaming network called Jamie’s Corner. She said this about the security person who tackled her:
“He tackled me like I was an NFL player or something. What was THAT about? I’m just here to make an appearance for the animals, to bring to light a subject matter that people just tend to ignore, which is the fact that leather kills… Three minutes of me being escorted out of a place is nothing in comparison to these cows that are raised in confinement, that have their lives taken from them, the skin ripped off their bodies.”
Logan explains why this disruption was necessary, considering there are plenty of animal-free vegan leather products now:
“When we look at people’s furniture, when we look at their shoes, the idea of cow skin leather is very normalized in society. So, we really did want to bring that to light. It is not okay to turn a beautiful living being, a sentient animal, into a handbag, a jacket, or shoes. They deserve to live and be here just like us.”
“As an activist, sometimes you have to put aside your own discomfort for the animals and that is what we did.” — Jamie Logan, activist
Leather Is Now the New Fur
Rachel Levy is an animal rights activist, anti-fur campaign organizer and a PETA team action leader in New York City. It was she who organized the stunt. Without revealing how they managed to get in, she explained a bit about the planning:
“We planned it for a while, of course. We went over every little detail, trying to make sure that everything went well. I pretty much directed the girls on when to start and when to go. Everything was very calculated. I’ve been doing this for a while, and they took directions very well.”
Levy explains that leather use continues because many fashion designers are not creative enough:
“Fashion designers really need to step into the 21st century and really be creative… I find that designers are a little lazy and they’re not as creative because they’re still using an animal… Leather is now the new fur. Fur is on its way out, and we need to send a message to these fashion designers that there’s really no need anymore to kill animals for their skin.”
We invite Coach, or any other fashion or leather industry representatives, to comment on this story at any time.
“It’s definitely one for the history books. This was one of the most epic actions.”— Rachel Levy
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Jordi Casmitjana is a vegan zoologist and author.