Words: Joshua Greenwood
Feature Image: @ASOS
Last month, ASOS – the British online fashion and beauty retailer – announced their plans to ban all products that contain silk, cashmere, mohair and feathers from its entire platform by January 2019. This is a move that will further ASOS’s plans to provide clothing options that are more ethical and eco-friendly, having already banned fur, angora and other products which use materials from vulnerable animals.
But will this have a progressive impact? And which fashion retailers are changing their approach?
Stocking over 850 brands including their own, ASOS is one of the top and most influential high-street brands. Due to this, this move could persuade other significant retailers to push ethical fashion further, with more than 150 international retailers such Topshop and H&M, have recently committed to banning the cruelly obtained material, mohair.
Mohair is a fibre that comes from angora goats that is used in clothing such as sweaters, hats and other soft accessories. However, the process used to obtain this material is extremely painful and cruel to the goats, causing extreme discomfort, leading to burns, blindness and death.
PETA have praised the decision from ASOS and the other retailers describing the method of obtaining such materials as “exploiting countless goats, geese, ducks, and silkworms, causing these sentient beings unnecessary pain and suffering.”
As more and more information is being revealed about the process of obtaining these materials, consumers are demanding brands to change which is ultimately changing the face of the industry. This is causing designers and retailers to use cruelty-free alternatives over animal-derived products that still have the same quality and aesthetic. Not only are today’s vegan fabrics indistinguishable from animal-based fibres, they’re often also higher-performing and less harmful to the environment.
Luxury brands are also being influenced to become more ethical and to think about the materials they are using. Stella McCartney is still leading the way in luxury sustainability, stating, “We promote a cruelty-free ethos and continue to innovate ways of creating sustainable material.”
They have long eschewed the use of leather, skin, fur and feathers, establishing themselves as a vegetarian brand. Stella McCartney also source their wool from hand-selected, high quality animal welfare farms with the ethos that no harm comes to the animals for the sake of their products. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Gucci have also banned the use of angora and fur in their collections, with the latter just joining the Fur Free Alliance, an organization dedicated to ending the exploitation and killing of animals for their fur.
ASOS is only one of the many fashion retailers that are changing for the better by banning the materials that are harming animals and the planet. With large, influential brands like ASOS and Gucci taking action, it’s not impossible to see a fashion industry that’s on its way to becoming a sustainable, ethical and cruelty-free force.