H&M, Zara, Topshop & Gap ban Mohair following animal cruelty expose

London - A number of leading fashion retailers, including H&M, Zara, Gap and Topshop have pledged to discontinue using mohair in their products following an animal cruelty investigation from animal rights organisation PETA.

Mohair, which is made from the hair of Angora goats, is known for softness and frequently used in winter apparel such as sweater, coats and scarves. However, video footage gathered by a team from PETA Asia depicts extreme cases of animal cruelty at a dozen goat farms in South Africa, the source of more than 50 percent of the world’s mohair.

H&M, Zara, Topshop & Gap ban Mohair following animal cruelty expose

Inditex, the H&M Group, Gap Inc and Arcadia Group to go mohair-free

Video footage, gathered in 12 goat farms and one slaughterhouse in January and February this year, depicted workers dragging goats by their horns and legs and lifting them off the floor by their tails - a move which could break the goats' spines. In some cases, goat kids cry as they are shorn before being thrown across the floor. PETA is requesting law-enforcement agencies to investigate its claims and file charges where appropriate.

It is not clear whether any of the brands sourced mohairs from the farms under investigation, but after seeing the footage Inditex, the parent company of Zara, the H&M Group, Gap Inc and Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop, all pledged to go mohair-free. Arcadia Group has halted all purchasing of mohair for all of its eight brands and Gap Inc has vowed to stop selling mohair products for Gap and its other brands. The H&M Group, which is currently working to trace the origin of all its product, aims to remove all mohair products from its brands' collections by 2020, as does Inditex.

“For us, it is of utmost importance that animals are treated well and we have therefore decided to permanently ban mohair. We have been in close dialogue with PETA for several years and fully agree with them on this matter,” said an H&M spokesperson to FashionUnited . “We will now look into what other alternative materials we can offer our customers. From a sustainability perspective, we believe it is better than already produced garments are being used. 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.”

H&M, Zara, Topshop & Gap ban Mohair following animal cruelty expose

The H&M Group: "The supply chain for mohair production is challenging to control"

A spokesperson from Inditex revealed to FashionUnited that it has decided to “phase out the small number of products” it sells containing mohair and has committed that all its products will be “completely mohair-free by 2020”, the end of its 2019 winter campaign. “This is the quickest workable time in which we can achieve this, considering orders already placed and the impact on manufacturers,” added the spokesperson for Inditex. “We are conscious that while we only sell small numbers of products containing mohair, our decision will have an impact on some suppliers in Spain and Portugal who specialise in using mohair in products. We have already communicated our decision to those suppliers to give them enough notice to adjust their future plans.”

Fashion retailers direct response to the treatment of angora goats for the production of mohair reflects a wider shift in consumer consciousness regarding the ethical and sustainable production of apparel. Demand for brands such as Mud Jeans and Everlane, which reveal to consumers how and where their products are made continues to grow. Inditex, Gap Inc, Arcadia Group and the H&M Group’s pledge to ban mohair comes more than five years after PETA released undercover footage of farm workers in China ripping out the fur from Angora rabbits for angora products. Since then, more than 300 fashion companies around the world have banned angora from the collections.

The investigation marks PETA’s first expose into the production of mohair. The organisation states that shearers, who are paid by volume rather than per hour, “worked quickly and carelessly, leaving goats cut up and bleeding, and roughly stitched them up without giving them any pain relief.” In addition, a number of goats were brutally killed after shearing, with one worker at a farm cutting the throats of conscious goats with a dull knife before breaking their necks, according to PETA investigators.

"Baby goats were left screaming in pain and fear on the shearing floor, all for mohair jumpers and scarves," said PETA Director of Corporate Projects Yvonne Taylor in a statement. "PETA is urging shoppers to check clothing labels carefully, and if an item says it contains mohair, leave it on the rack."

Photos: Angora Goats, PETA