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The Agony Behind Angora

Fashion brands and clothing stores abandon cruel angora trade

For those that haven’t seen one, angora rabbits are cute, small, fluffy creatures. But, (perhaps regrettably) their wool is also known for its softness, silky texture, thin fibres, and what knitters refer to as a halo (fluffiness). This means that it has long been desirable for clothing manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers. It’s also warmer and lighter than wool due to the hollow core of the angora fibre, which gives it a characteristic ‘floating’ feel.
The Agony Behind Angora 1The result: it means angora rabbits are farmed intensively for their hair for high-end fashion, and it’s a cruel and ugly process.

More than 90% of angora fur comes from farms in China, which has a woeful record of factory farming and animal cruelty, particularly when it comes to producing clothes for the fashion industry, many of which end up on sale on British high streets. There are thought to be more than 50 million rabbits on angora farms right across China, producing more than 4,000 tonnes of fur every year. The rest of global production comes from Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which produce the bulk of the remaining 10% of the supply chain.

Fortunately, there’s been some good news from fashion manufacturers in recent times, with dozens of well–known brands abandoning the use of angora in their clothing lines. French fashion house Lacoste has confirmed that it is removing all angora wool products, and retailer Monsoon Accessorize is doing the same. The high street store has ruled out using angora in all its future production of clothing and accessories. There are many others too, from high street stores BHS, Lidl and Next to designer labels such as Cath Kidston and Quiksilver.

The decision by these and other companies to ditch angora follows PETA Asia’s deeply disturbing investigation into the fur farms, which revealed how intelligent rabbits are confined for years in isolation to small, filthy wire cages that cut their sensitive paws. They can be heard screaming as they have their front and back legs tightly tethered so they can be stretched out over a board as sharp clippers cut into their sensitive skin or their hair is ripped out by the fistful; all for a product that no one needs.

This process is repeated every three months for the two to three years of the animal’s life; once the rabbit’s health fails, they are of little use to breeders. Angoras can live for five years, or even as long as 10 years when properly looked after, but farmed rabbits have a much shorter lifespan. And those who do survive the brutal conditions are later killed by having their necks broken and sold to local markets, PETA says. These are standard practices in the barbaric modern angora industry.

In the PETA expose, investigators went to 10 different angora farms and witnessed the appalling abuse of animals at each of the locations. At half of the farms scrutinised a particularly barbaric form of live plucking is used to remove the fur. Regardless of whether the rabbits have been plucked or sheared, if a label says ‘angora’, then it means that rabbits have suffered. PETA documented its hard-hitting findings in video footage which can be seen online.

Monsoon and Lacoste now join dozens of other global fashion brands, including ASOS, Stella McCartney and French Connection, by committing to the ban on angora.

“Shoppers now know that all angora is the product of cruelty to animals,” said PETA UK director Mimi Bekhechi. “We commend retailers and designers such as AllSaints, ASOS, Calvin Klein, H&M and Stella McCartney for putting animals before profit by pledging never to use angora in their future collections.”
In total, more than 60 brands and retailers have now committed to end the use of angora in their clothing and accessories, following pressure from the animal rights group. Online fashion giant, boohoo, specifically cited the PETA Asia campaign when it announced that it too would abandon angora.

The commitment by all of these companies to change is a huge step forward, though there’s still more work to be done, according to Bekhechi. “Consumers can send a clear message to any heartless retailers still selling angora items by shopping elsewhere,” she says.

In fact, you can even visit the PETA website (peta.org.uk) to learn more about the multitude of warm, high-quality vegan clothing and accessories that don’t harm a hair on a rabbit’s – or any other animal’s – head. And look online too for a list of all those companies that have abandoned angora. It’s a victory for all those cute little angora rabbits that have no voice.

See also Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes 

Taken from March/April 2015 (Issue 4) Vegan Life Magazine

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