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Since you’ve probably never seen one in the flesh, this is what an angora rabbit looks like:
 
 
Wikipedia

Pretty adorable, right? But this image also helps us understand why their wool is such a hot commodity. At six times warmer than sheep’s wool and with fibres so fine that it’s actually softer than cashmere, angora wool is something people will do crazy things to get. That’s why, despite their cute appearances, these animals are actually linked to something quite sinister.

Spanish clothing giant Zara announced Monday that it’s the latest company to join a growing list of brands that have stopped selling angora garments because of the cruelty the animals experience as their wool is harvested. The trend to drop the products formed shortly after US-based animal rights group PETA launched a campaign in 2013 that included horrific video of what exactly happens to these animals in order to acquire that precious fur.

Unlike sheep, which are sheared, PETA reports that angora rabbits simply have the hair yanked from their bodies as they screech and writhe around, trying to escape. Their sore, bare and red bodies are then crammed back into a cage, until the fur grows back enough to repeat the process again.

“The Angora products have been removed from the stores, in particular items that were in last year’s autumn and winter collection,” a Zara spokeswoman told Business Insider.

PETA also says that 90 per cent of all angora wool comes from rabbits in China, which lacks animal protection laws. A list of all the companies that have banned angora products can also be found on its website, which includes Espirit, Forever 21, French Connection, Gap Inc., Lacoste, Levi Strauss & Co. and Urban Outfitters.

There is some good news, though! As for all that leftover angora wool Zara is now stuck with? The retailer will donate 20,000 garments made of the super-soft material to Syrian refugees in Lebanon through the charity Life for Relief and Development. The retail value of all of those items would be about $878,000.

So this season, try reintroducing the “faux” with “fur.” The animal kingdom would be extremely grateful.