Japan’s Fast Retailing Group has confirmed that its Uniqlo casual clothing chain, as well as its PLST and Comptoir des Cotonniers brands, are to phase out the use of alpaca wool in their products.
The fibre will be discontinued from the 2021 autumn/winter collections, a company representative told just-style. The group’s GU, PTT, and J Brand do not use alpaca wool.
“Our decision to discontinue the use of alpaca is part of our ongoing effort toward ethical and responsible procurement and to ensure our products are socially and environmentally sustainable,” the representative said.
Uniqlo has not specifically linked its decision to a recent PETA US alpaca wool exposé 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, according to PETA, other retailers such as Marks & Spencer responded by committing to phase out alpaca wool in all future product developments, as has Hong Kong-listed Esprit. Gap Inc and H&M Group are also understood to have cut ties with Mallkini’s parent company, the Michell Group.
Even so, 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.
Meanwhile, work begun last month on a Responsible Alpaca Standard that will verify and identify alpaca fibre produced in farming systems that respect animal welfare and the environment.