One of the largest fashion retail groups in the world stopped the production and sale of Angora after pressure from PETA and other animal activists.
Another major player in the fashion industry recently stopped the sale of Angora rabbit fur after virtual pressure from petitions and animal rights activists groups. Inditex released a statement stopping the sale of items made out of Angora fur.
“We found no evidence of cruel practices at the farms providing Angora wool to our suppliers,” Inditex told The Guardian on Feb. 8. “But after consultation with animal welfare organizations to explore more sustainable ways to produce Angora and help develop better standards within the industry, we have decided that banning Angora production was the right decision.”
Inditex is one of the largest fashion retail groups in the world with over 6,460 stores, and is the Spanish parent company of eight major brands including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Bershka. The company’s owner, Amancio Ortega, was recently named the third richest man in the world by Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index with an estimated fortune of $46.6 billion.
The company’s ban comes after major animal rights activists groups took to the internet to protest against the fashion industry’s use of Angora. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a graphic video of the group’s undercover investigation into 10 factory farms in China in 2013, where according to PETA, 90 percent of Angora wool comes from.
The video shows the Angora rabbits, known as the fluffiest rabbits in the world, being tied down while workers violently rip the fur from their skin, leaving them bald and bleeding.
The groups investigation discovered that the rabbits are put through this process every three months, and after two to five years, they are killed and their carcasses are sold. In China, there are no penalties for the abuse of animals on farms and no standards to regulate the treatment of the animals.
According to PETA, Inditex is sending its 20,000 brand-new Angora sweaters, coats and other garments to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The products are worth nearly $900,000, and are being donated through the Life for Relief and Development charity.
“Only people in desperate need of basic necessities have any excuse for wearing fur that is ripped from live animals’ bodies,” the organization states on its blog. “As Inditex’s compassionate action shows, with so many other options available, only those who are truly struggling have any excuse for wearing fur, wool, or skins.”
Inditex’s animal welfare policies state on its website that the company decided to cease production of garments made from Angora wool in 2014 and will be eliminating these products from its ranges in 2015. The fashion giant is in good company. The release of the video prompted over 80 other companies and brands to stop the sale and production of Angora, including H&M, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Lacoste and Target. PETA is now turning its attention to BCBG Max Azria, who has not stopped the sale.
Sum of Us, a global internet movement standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions, also played a part in Inditex’s ban. The group started a petition for 500,000 signatures for Zara to take responsibility for the practice of obtaining Angora fur.
“The reason for this cruelty comes down to profit, pure and simple,” the Sum of Us petition states.
“Angora has a trade value of £22 to £28 (estimated $24 to $31) per kilogram, but the longer hair that comes from plucking, as opposed to shearing, can sell for more than double that.”
At the time of this article, the petition had 302,210 signatures. The organization also started an online campaign called Super Bunny Warriors to get Zara’s attention. Members submitted photos of their own rabbits with signs urging the brand to halt the sale of Angora.
“Shame on you Zara,” one member writes. “I love your clothes in London but would now ignore your stores if you continue to sell Angora rabbit fur.. Rabbits are innocent animals who deserve love, care and safety just like my rabbit Cupcake receives.”
“Please Zara, you have enjoyed much fame and success already,” another writes.”Big name celebrities, and even royalty are regularly snapped wearing your label. Do you want those people to be associated with a brand that harms these beautiful, gentle creatures in it’s production? Well I don’t think that they do, and myself as a previous customer of Zara certainly don’t. It is in your hands to be famous for all the right reasons. Please ensure you don’t let bunnies suffer.”
According to Alexandra Beane, coordinator of The Animal Rights Coalition’s Cuddle Coats program, it is estimated that every year, more than a billion rabbits are killed for their pelts. She says even if the product was assembled in the United States, the Angora most likely came from China.
“Angora is hidden in many different garments such as sweaters, socks, hats, shirts, scarves, dresses, and more,” Beane says. “Like most animals killed for their fur, Angora rabbits are bred specifically for their fur and spend their entire lives confined in tiny wire cages where they are unable to move. The wire cages themselves result in pain and injury. At just eight weeks old, rabbits begin a horrific life of abuse. Because males cannot produce as much fur as females, they are often killed at birth.”
Beane also says that during the process the rabbits suffer extreme pain and agony. When their fur is ripped from their sensitive skin, they scream and shake in pain. Some rabbits die in shock.
“Their carcasses are sold for meat,” she says. “When consumers purchase rabbit meat, they are also supporting the barbaric Angora and fur industry as well.”
Though the 2013 PETA campaign was the catalyst for the ban of Angora rabbit fur and successful for stopping many brands, she says there are still plenty of retailers that are refusing to budge.
“Often times, people are unaware as to how Angora is obtained and used to make clothing because we hear the words ‘ethical’ or ‘humane,’ which is never a possibility in the fur industry,” Beane says. “Angora is used to make many items such as sweaters, socks, hats, shirts, scarves, so it’s best to read every label before making a purchase, or do a Google search if you see a word on a tag that you don’t understand. The only way to put a stop to this cruel practice is to put your money toward ethical and humane purchases.”
According to the National Angora Rabbit Breeders Club, there are safe and ethical ways to obtain the rabbit’s fur. An article on the club’s website titled “Tips for Harvesting Angora,” states that plucking the fibers out won’t hurt the rabbit as long as the plucking isn’t ‘over zealous.’ The tips also include instructions for shearing, cutting and spinning the fur off the rabbit. It also says that the first harvest should be done around five to eight months of age, and repeated every four months.
“After having achieved good grooming habits, you now have a beautiful coat on your rabbit and it is ripe to be harvested by either plucking, (pulling the fibers out), which doesn’t hurt the rabbit if you’re not over zealous,” their “Tips for Harvest” reads. “You may wish to shear or cut to remove the coat. If you cut be careful that you don’t cut the bunny. The skin is loose and when you pull the wool up to cut you may accidentally cut the skin.”
The breeders club states on its website that harvesting the fur is a way to keep the bunny groomed and ready for shows. It also says that people who are keeping the Angora as a domestic pet, may not want to harvest it. The group could not be reached for comment.
Beane says that the Animal Rights Coalition is glad that a change was being made, but there is still a long way to go.
“The fact is many people still view animals as resources instead of individuals who matter,” she says. “Thankfully, this perception is shifting. There are far more humane methods that are not only cruelty-free, but are also eco-friendly. We expect companies to make this shift.”