M&S told Just Style its review had reassured the company that it could reintroduce alpaca wool in the future, knowing that its “strict animal welfare requirements would be met”.

M&S is referring to the Responsible Alpaca Standard (RAS), which the Textile Exchange launched in 2021. The standard aims to verify and identify alpaca fibre produced in farming systems that respect animal welfare and the environment.

In 2020, M&S announced it would “phase out” use of alpaca wool in future product development following an investigation by animal rights group PETA into the world’s largest privately-owned alpaca farm in Peru, Mallkini.

The exposé showed workers holding struggling baby alpacas who were shorn with electric clippers, leaving the animals bleeding from deep wounds.

Other fashion brands which stopped their use of alpaca wool at the time included Next, New Look, Matalan and Ted Baker, amongst others.

PETA’s vice president for the UK, Europe and Australia Mimi Bekhechi called M&S’ decision “a slap in the face to compassionate consumers”.

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“Unless it changes its mind, customers will turn their backs on M&S – just as it has turned its back on animals and sold out to bogus wool industry standard schemes,” Bekhechi told Just Style.

“If M&S wants to stay on the high street and in the good graces of today’s conscientious shoppers, it must take the high road and ban alpaca wool – and all animal-derived clothing and accessories – from its stores. And that’s exactly what PETA is calling on it to do.”

The Textile Exchange told Just Style that it “recognised the role of animal rights organisations in pushing for change in the fashion industry” and said its RAS was designed to incentivise the humane treatment of animals.

“For the industry to meet its climate and nature goals including the reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 45%, while creating beneficial impacts for animals, people and planet, the industry needs a diverse portfolio of preferred fibres and a reduction in new synthetic materials.

“So, while animal rights organisations often hold the position that animal fibres being used for human purposes is unacceptable, we believe that animal-derived materials should only be used if, and when measures can be taken to prevent unnecessary harm to animals.”

In 2023, PETA, asked Swedish fashion retailer H&M to produce a report detailing how it sources duck down following claims that inhumane slaughter methods were used by a previous duck down supplier.