When farm workers roughly shear the long wool from the backs of Angora goats, the goats scream. There’s something about how human they sound as they cry out in fear and pain while being brutalised for their wool that makes PETA's exposé of the process even more devastating than the upsetting visuals alone.
The first ever eyewitness investigation into the industry, filmed across 12 farms in South Africa (the largest producer of mohair in the world), reveals the terror and pain inflicted on the goats (some of them kids, just weeks old) – and it has struck a chord with British high street brands. Topshop, Zara, H&M, Gap, Monsoon / Accessorize, Fat Face, Lazy Oaf and The White Company all announced bans earlier in May, and yesterday it was announced that Marks and Spencer, Mango, Next and Primark are joining them.
Previously popular for its distinctive fluffy look, lightness and warmth, mohair was used for fuzzy blankets, cutesy sex kitten sweaters and, perhaps most iconically, by punks in the '70s, like Vivienne Westwood and the Sex Pistols. PETA’s exposé, however, has made both brands and consumers reassess their love of the fluff. There is absolutely nothing punk, sexy, cute or cool about brutalising these gentle animals.
Speaking about the change of heart on the British high street, PETA’s Yvonne Taylor says in a statement: "These brands recognise that no jumper or scarf is worth the blood, fear, and cries of gentle baby goats – and all other retailers should, too." When H&M announced their ban earlier this month, a spokesperson 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 fibre from our assortment by 2020 at the latest."
"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," a voiceover explains in PETA’s film. "Goats endure unspeakable suffering and die painful, horrifying deaths." The animal rights organisation is asking consumers to always check the garment label while shopping. "If it contains mohair, leave it on the rack."