The fashion world has been making strides to distance itself from animal cruelty and produce its clothing more ethically, and one major retailer just joined in the movement. ASOS will stop selling mohair, silk, cashmere, and feathers starting January 2019 as part of their new animal welfare policy.
The decision was partly inspired by PETA, who in May exposed the cruel techniques used in mohair farms in South Africa, and the violent mistreatment of the angora goats that mohair comes from. The video showed farmers dragging goats by their horns and legs, picking them up by the tails and likely breaking their spines, and even cutting their throats when they were lucid. And that was just the treatment of goats that provided a profit — the ones that weren't used for their pelts were even more mistreated, and often were disposed of cruelly.
After news broke of this, over 140 brands, including Topshop, Gap, Zara and H&M, created mohair bans. A spokesperson for H&M, for example, said that the mohair industry is “challenging to control. Therefore we have decided to ban mohair fibre from our assortment by 2020 at the latest."
ASOS is taking it one step further, though, by not only banning mohair but also silk, cashmere, feathers, angora, bone, teeth, or shell.
The reason for that is those materials are linked to violent animal mistreatment as well. Silk is the fiber that silkworms use to weave their cocoons, and in order to obtain it, farmers boil them alive in their cocoons. It takes about 6,600 silkworms to create just one kilogram of silk.
Cashmere goats are left alive, but they're often shorn during midwinter, when they need their warm pelts the most. Because of that, they often die because of stress and exposure.
Using feathers in fashion isn't any more ethical than using fur, where not only are birds collected and killed for their feathers, but some are even plucked while still alive.
Knowing these facts, ASOS has decided to move away from those materials. "ASOS firmly believes it is not acceptable for animals to suffer in the name of fashion or cosmetics. No animals should be slaughtered specifically to produce products sold through any of ASOS’s websites. All animal materials used must be by-products of the meat industry," the retailer has stated. "ASOS requires animal material suppliers to adopt industry best practice rearing, transportation and slaughter standards, based on the internationally recognised Five Freedoms which recommend animals should be afforded: 1. freedom from hunger and thirst; 2. freedom from discomfort; 3. freedom from pain, injury and disease; 4. freedom to express normal behaviour; 5. freedom from fear and distress."
While they're not moving away from leather or wool, they do want to make sure that those materials are sourced ethically. They are part of the Leather Working Group, which develops and promotes sustainability and transparency within the leather industry, and will move to only source its leather and wool goods from LWG-rated tanneries.
But part of the reason the retailer is taking such a strict outlook is because of their consumers who have made noise. That just shows if you believe in something, and push your favorite retailers to become more ethical and take a stand, there is a good chance they might. Accountability is power.