An increasing number of brands are discontinuing the use of alpaca wool in their collection

An increasing number of brands are discontinuing the use of alpaca wool in their collection

Ascena Retail Group – owner of the Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant chains – has become the latest fashion industry player to ban the use of alpaca wool and commit to eliminating the material from its product lines going forward.

All of Ascena's brands are excluding alpaca from future collections, according to animal rights organisation PETA.

The update follows a PETA US alpaca wool exposé this summer claiming workers at Mallkini – the world's largest privately-owned alpaca farm in Peru – were causing suffering to the animals as they were roughly shorn.

However, annual shearing of the animals is necessary not only to obtain the fibre but also to prevent them from suffering from the heat and disease that excess hair would cause.

In its response, the Michell group — the owner of the farm probed by PETA — said it had "started an exhaustive investigation" to determine the facts and to "guarantee that an event like this will never happen again." Mallkini is the only alpaca farm in the world with Organic Certification granted by the USDA Organic and the Organic EU Regulation, which covers the soil, breeding, handling, and shearing of alpacas. It is also open to tourists, where they can watch the shearing process.

Ascena joins UK fashion brands Next, New Look, Matalan, and Ted Baker in pledging to end the use of alpaca in their collections. Luxury fashion house Valentino as well as Marks & Spencer and Esprit, have all also previously committed to phasing out the material, while Gap Inc and H&M Group have cut ties with Mallkini's parent company, the Michell Group.

Work began in June on a Responsible Alpaca Standard that will verify and identify alpaca fibre produced in farming systems that respect animal welfare and the environment.