Interested in using angora wool in your next collection? Or maybe you’re against it? By now, you’ve all likely heard about the PETA controversy surrounding the use of angora in the fashion industry.
If not, a bit of background: PETA recently released a video bringing attention to harsh conditions and animal abuse that has been sanctioned by angora rabbit farms in China.
If you’ve already sketched out a whole collection of angora sweaters and are feeling wary, don’t scrap your ideas just yet!
It is these large farms, not the fiber, that need boycotting. It is possible to use angora wool responsibly, without hurting the animal. Here’s how:
Angora is a Luxury Fiber; treat it as such.
Why is this fiber expensive? Angora is harvested by brushing shed fur from the rabbit’s coat (they need constant grooming and care). It is a slow process and produces a small amount of fiber.
Quite simply, angora is not a fiber meant for low cost mass-production; the process is too slow and labor intensive. However, if your brand is a smaller, high-end label, angora could be a beautiful, unique addition to your collection while fitting practically into your business model.
Just take a look at independent brand Ambika Friendly Furs; the work is pure luxury and utterly beautiful.
Source Fibers Locally
The issue with the humane acquisition of angora lies with large farms overseas. However, there are plenty of smaller farms around the United States raising happy, healthy angora bunnies that can source the fiber to you.
Designers in New York City and New England should check out the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. It’s held every October, and you can personally see the rabbits and meet the farmers (who often also create beautiful hand-spun and dyed yarns!)
While it is laudable that large companies such as Gap and H&M are boycotting angora, news of poor conditions on their source farms were brought to their attention by PETA, and not their own investigations.
As designers, it is our responsibility to know exactly who we are sourcing from, what production conditions are like, and what impact we are having on the world and the people in it. Do your research.