This move marks a major milestone for the global organisation Four Paws, which has been advocating against the cruel practice of mulesing and specifically targeted Nike with a campaign in 2022.

The animal organisation reports over 80,000 sports enthusiasts joined the cause, urging NIKE to follow in the footsteps of Adidas and Puma, who had already committed to using certified wool. Four Paws continues to call on textile brands to phase out this inhumane and outdated procedure.

In response to the successful #StopCruelWool campaign, Nike has publicly announced that it will now exclusively use certified wool sourced through the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), effectively eliminating the use of mulesed wool. Mulesing, a practice limited to Australia, the world’s largest supplier of Merino wool, involves the removal of large sections of skin from lambs without proper pain relief.

“We congratulate Nike on this important commitment which will benefit millions of lambs. With the upcoming mulesing season in Australia due to start, this news comes at a crucial time and sends a strong signal to the wool producers, being an influential brand with the potential to inspire the entire apparel market. This win was only possible with the help of tens of thousands of supporters fighting together with Four Paws for better animal welfare in the sports apparel market,” said Rebecca Picallo Gil, head of the wool campaign at Four Paws.

Merino wool is favoured in sports apparel due to its beneficial properties such as breathability and odour control, as highlighted in a report by Four Paws. Until now, Nike, as the leading sportswear manufacturer, had not committed to consistently excluding mulesed wool from its product range, unlike its major competitors adidas and Puma.

Four Paws has been campaigning for an end to the cruel practice of mulesing for many years. The procedure involves cutting off significant portions of skin from lambs aged two to ten weeks without providing adequate pain relief. This causes fear, stress, and excruciating pain lasting several days for the lambs, the animal rights group says. Alternatives to mulesing, such as breeding naturally flystrike-resistant sheep, have long been available. Additionally, certification systems enable traceability from the point of sale to the farms, ensuring the exclusion of mulesed wool.

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Over 350 brands globally have already published anti-mulesing policies, and more than 70 brands have signed an open letter to the Australian wool industry, demanding an end to the mutilation of lambs. With Nike joining the ranks of responsible brands, it is expected to significantly impact the industry and inspire further positive changes.

Former Nike director, Melissa Mullen, recently joined activewear brand Sweaty Betty as its global brand president.