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

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

UK fashion brands Next, New Look, Matalan, and Ted Baker have said they will end the use of alpaca in their collections, while River Island, Hunter and Barbour say they have already prohibited the use of the fibre.

The update from animal rights organisation PETA, follows an undercover investigation into Mallkini, the world's largest privately owned alpaca farm in Peru.

"Consumers today want nothing to do with materials that animals were tormented for," says PETA director of Corporate projects, Yvonne Taylor. "We urge all retailers to stand up for vulnerable alpacas by following these companies' compassionate example and introducing a ban on this cruelly obtained material."

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 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.

The brands join luxury fashion house Valentino as well as Marks & Spencer and Esprit, which have all previously committed to phasing out the material. Gap Inc and H&M Group have cut ties with Mallkini's parent company, the Michell Group.

Meanwhile, work begun 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.