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High Street Fashion Marks & Spencer has pledged to ditch alpaca wool after an undercover investigation revealed animal suffering.

The upmarket retailer joins a slew of high street fashion giants in dropping the material. They include Esprit, Gap Inc – which owns Banana Republic, Athleta among others – and H&M Group.

Undercover investigation

The decision – which has been branded ‘compassionate’ – follows the release of a PETA exposé, which the organization describes as ‘revealing that crying alpacas are roughly shorn and left cut up and bleeding from deep wounds’.

The vegan charity undertook an undercover investigation into a farm in Mallkini – the world’s largest privately-owned alpaca farm in Peru.

Video footage shows that ‘workers held struggling, crying alpacas by the ears as they were roughly shorn with electric clippers, causing some to vomit out of fear’. PETA adds that the shearing left the animals with deep wounds, ‘which were sewn up without adequate pain relief’.

Animal welfare

As a result, Marks & Spencer said the footage highlighted ‘concerns around the welfare of animals that are farmed to produce alpaca [wool]’ – which influenced its decision to phase out the fiber.

In a statement sent to Plant Based News, PETA Director of Corporate Projects Yvonne Taylor, said: “Marks & Spencer’s decision will prevent many alpacas from being tormented for their wool. We urge all retailers to protect these vulnerable animals by following the company’s compassionate example and introducing a ban on alpaca fiber.”

The charity adds that the Higg Materials Sustainability Index ‘ranked alpaca wool as the second most environmentally damaging material after silk, noting that it’s six times as harmful as polyester and more than four times as damaging as modal, viscose, rayon, lyocell, acrylic, and other vegan materials’.

‘Commitment to animal welfare’

Michell, which owns the facility in Mallkini, released a statement following PETA’s investigation, saying: “The shocking images transmitted in the video undoubtedly show excesses that we deeply deplore and affect us profoundly. They have clearly been edited and show unacceptable mistreatment practices carried out by negligent shearers.”

It concludes: “We want to reiterate our commitment to continue striving to improve our animal welfare, to work for a healthier environment, to provide the best products and services to all of you, to take care of our collaborators, and to contribute to our community, always in an honest and transparent manner.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.