I work full-time in the design department of a notable knitwear supplier based in London. Since taking this position, Angora has become part of my day to day vocabulary and until now it has never crossed my mind to question where it is sourced. Judging by the office's reaction to the Angora expose over the past week, it hadn't crossed theirs either. In the fashion supply industry it seems that we get so caught up in meeting a competitive price range that we forget to question whether things are ethically sourced.
So, a little background on Angora for those of you who aren't familiar with it...Angora is the fibre from the soft coat of an angora rabbit. Not to be mistaken with cashmere and mohair which both come from goats.Fluffy and silky to the touch it is more lightweight than wool but equally warm, it is these qualities that have lead to its popularity in knitwear. Angora is generally used in a wool yarn blend with only 30-35% angora, more would cause serious jumper malting.
|1. Topshop knitted jumper- £46.00 7%Angora, New Look jumper-£19.99 30%Angora, 3. Zara knitted jumper- £59.99 8%Angora, 4. Meadham Kirchoff for Topshop- £95.00 48% Angora!!!|
At some point in our lives, the majority of us will have held/stroked a rabbit, usually on a mandatory school trip to a local farm/petting zoo. Imagine how soft the coat of the rabbit was and you can start to get an understanding of why angora fur is so popular.
Growing up, we never had a cat or dog, bunnies were the pet of choice in my family and I have very fond memories of watching them hop playfully around the garden. Naturally placid and carefree animals they make an ideal pet for a family with young children.This is why the news of the angora rabbit torture has struck a chord with me!
The PETA(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has recently uncovered the reality behind angora rabbit farming in China. China is responsible for producing 90% of the worlds Angora. A country which has no limitations in regards to animal welfare and no penalty for animal cruelty. This is the outcome...
Angora rabbits are enclosed in tiny wire cages in darkened rooms. They are taken out at 3 month intervals when their fur is ripped out of their skin. This process is repeated for 2-5 years when the rabbit is then skinned, killed and sold for meat. The video below is quite disturbing to watch but demonstrates the torture these animals are enduring in the name of fashion.
This expose has recently been brought to the attention of the general public in Sara Malm's article for the Daily Mail(20/11/13)entitled "Cruel truths of the angora fur trade revealed in shocking footage which shows rabbits having hair PULLED out... because the traders make more money" see full article here:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2510641/Cruel-truths-angora-fur-trade-revealed-shocking-video.html
The title of this article highlights an issue in the fashion industry which seems to constantly lead to questionable ethics. The drive of money. Are we so desperate to produce "cost-effective" clothes with competitive prices that we neglect to question why the prices are so favorable?Aparrently so.
Beth Hale from the Daily Mail has also gone into further detail in her Daily Mail article
"Thinking of buying an angora sweater for Christmas? Read this chilling investigation... Agony of the rabbits plucked alive for your fluffy jumpers"where the majority of the images on this blog post are sourced: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512072/Agony-rabbits-plucked-alive-fluffy-jumpers.html
In response to the expose of this cruelty high street chains like H&M are halting their angora production. In a recent press release, H&M said:
“[We] will immediately stop the production of all angora products until we have secured that our strict Product Policy is being followed. H&M doesn’t accept that animals are treated badly. We only allow products made of angora hair from farms with good animal husbandry.”
How long H&M's production ban will continue is unknown, hopefully until Chinese fur farmers alter their fur harvesting methods.
With modern technology and the constant improving of synthetic fibres, we have man made replacements for natural fibres like Angora. Although some people like to feel like their social status is elevated because they are wearing a "real angora sweater", the majority of consumers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between an angora and a synthetic yarn.
Maybe we should start to look a little closer at the care labels of our knitwear and question where our garments are actually sourced!As nice as angora feels, I am not ready to forfeit my morality for the sake of fashion!I would like to get dressed in the morning knowing that no living creature was tortured in order to provide me with a luxuriously soft cardigan.
I employ you all to stop buying Angora jumpers/hats/scarves and any other angora products until this brutal method of fur farming is stopped. Customer demand drives angora production, if we boycott angora we can bring this cruelty to an end.