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Mongolian Cashmere Exposé Puts Luxury Giants in the Hot Seat

Aug 18, 2023Aug 18, 2023

PETA renewed its attack on luxury giants after claiming to find cruelty in their cashmere supply chains.

An investigation into a Mongolian supplier to Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton documented inhumane treatment of cashmere goats, according to the provocative animal-rights group.

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Sourcing Journal reached out to the brands for comment.

A probe into cashmere company Lanificio Colombo’s suppliers, whose clientele also include Prada, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, and Max Mara and Naadam, unearthed substantial abuse. Workers at the facility PETA visited manhandled cashmere goats, tying their legs together before removing their hair with sharp metal combs in a process that took up to an hour. Older goats’ hair growth begins to slow over time, making them less profitable to farmers. When this happens, workers kill the goats by striking them violently and slitting their throats, PETA said.

The organization alleged that two of the Asian herding operations it observed engaged in animal cruelty despite their membership in the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA). The non-profit aims to mitigate the environmental impacts of cashmere while safeguarding the livelihoods of farmers and promoting animal welfare. While members must adhere to certain standards surrounding the treatment of animals, the group does not require yearly farm audits. SFA, which launched in January, is currently carrying out an animal welfare improvement project in Mongolia to help identify areas of low compliance with goat welfare requirements, according to its website.

“Goats suffer in agony so that these particular designer brands can sell their hair as cashmere sweaters and scarves to customers who have no idea of the cruelty involved,” PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said. “PETA is calling on these and other high-end brands to stop hiding behind misleading labels and switch to cozy, luxurious, and 100-percent animal-friendly vegan cashmere.”

Earlier this year, PETA sent a cease-and-desist letter to clothing brand Naadam, demanding that it remove claims that its products are made with “cruelty-free” Mongolian cashmere or risk being reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for unfair competition, including misleading advertising. The company removed the claims within an hour.

Direct-to-consumer, digitally native lifestyle brand Quince has also been implicated in PETA’s recent Asia expose for its use of compromised cashmere. The company’s alpaca wool suppliers in Peru were previously investigated, and found to have engaged in inhumane shearing methods and rough treatment of the animals. Last week, PETA gave Quince, which didn’t immediately return a request for comment, until July 24 to remove marketing claims that its cashmere and alpaca products were “non-harmful” to animals.

“Quince is pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes with its misleading marketing, as time and again PETA entity investigations have shown screaming, terrified goats suffering for cashmere and alpacas left with bloody, gaping wounds for their wool,” Reiman said of the San Francisco company that’s raised more than $141 million to date. “PETA is calling on Quince to delete these deceptive statements and stop ‘humane washing’ the cashmere and alpaca industries’ inherent cruelty.”

According to PETA, its investigations into the Asian cashmere industry have prompted a number of global brands to ban the fiber from their assortments. Victoria’s Secret, Scotch & Soda, Asos, Columbia Sportswear and Sorel are among the labels that have committed to removing cashmere from their designs.

Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.

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