Previously popular for its distinctive fluffy look, lightness, and warmth, mohair is now falling out of favor with some of the world's largest retailers.
Following the release of the first-ever investigation into the mohair industry (conducted by PETA) released in May, companies including Topshop, Zara, H&M, Gap Inc. (which includes Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic), and Lazy Oaf all announced they would be banning mohair. Marks & Spencer, Mango, and Primark all followed, confirming their commitment to go mohair-free. Now, ASOS has announced it will be banning mohair — plus cashmere, silk, down, and feathers — across its entire site by January 2019.
Though most of the aforementioned stores are still currently selling products that contain mohair, they noted that they would not be sourcing any mohair items going forward. A spokesperson for H&M told The Washington Post: "The supply chain for mohair production is challenging to control — a credible standard does not exist — therefore we have decided to ban mohair fiber from our assortment by 2020 at the latest."
Used for fuzzy blankets, sex-kitten sweaters, and, perhaps most iconically, by punks like Vivienne Westwood and the Sex Pistols in the '70s, it turns out mohair isn't as cool or cute as it may seem. PETA’s exposé, which was filmed across 12 farms in South Africa (the largest producer of mohair in the world), reveals the terror and pain inflicted on the Angora goats (some of them kids, just weeks old): When farm workers shear the long wool from their backs, the goats scream. Per The Washington Post: "The animals were sometimes killed after shearing, investigators said. At one farm, a worker cut the throats of conscious goats with a dull knife and then broke their necks, according to PETA. Other goats were taken to a slaughterhouse, where they were shocked with electricity, hung upside down, and slashed across the throat." Though it isn't confirmed whether retailers used these specific farms when sourcing mohair, it's worth noting that the South African government claims it produced half of the world's mohair in 2015.
"Animal abuse is rampant and routine in the mohair industry, no matter what the industry and retailers may say to hide it from the consumer," the film says. "Goats endure unspeakable suffering and die painful, horrifying deaths." The animal rights organization is asking customers to always check the garment label while shopping. "If it contains mohair leave it on the rack," they suggest.
Speaking about the change of heart for so many major brands, PETA’s Yvonne Taylor said in a statement: "These brands recognize that no [sweater] or scarf is worth the blood, fear, and cries of gentle baby goats — and all other retailers should, too."