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LONDON – Young shoppers are driving a “sustainability revolution” in the fashion industry by shunning products which contain animal products, claims People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). In an exclusive – and highly provocative – interview with Apparel Insider, Peta suggested brands such as Asos, Zara and H&M are tapping into the hearts and minds of young shoppers and their concerns about animal welfare. “When compassionate consumers speak out against the use of cruelly obtained materials, fashion houses are prompted to make more conscious choices,” Peta’s director of corporate projects, Yvonne Taylor told us.

Taylor also suggested people are now becoming aware of the huge impact of animal agriculture on the environment, with animal derived materials such as mohair and leather “sharing responsibility” for the effects of animal agriculture on climate change.

Peta has pressed for a shift away from animal derived products for many years. However, with Asos with recently saying it would no longer retail products containing mohair, cashmere or silk, we asked Peta whether there is a danger of pushing shoppers towards polyester, a fibre which brings its own, sizeable environmental challenges.

Taylor told us: “Farming billions of animals for their skin, hair, feathers, flesh, milk, or eggs requires massive quantities of water and grain, which are scarce in much of the world … when you factor in the numerous other resources involved in rearing, transporting, and killing animals, it’s easy to understand why – according to a United Nations report – animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change.”

We also asked Peta whether it felt it was fair that the South African mohair industry, recently the subject of a Peta investigation, should suffer huge job losses because of a few bad apple farms.

Taylor told us: “The cruelty revealed in the footage of randomly selected angora goat farms in South Africa – the world’s number-one exporter of mohair – represents the industry standard, not “a few bad apples”, as the industry would like consumers and retailers to believe.

“Furthermore, it’s absurd for industry bodies to suggest that goats will die as a result of mohair bans. The industry already slaughters all the goats it exploits – and then breeds more to slaughter in turn. As companies ban mohair – to date, more than 220 brands have confirmed they won’t use the cruelly obtained material in future collections – that cycle of abuse is broken.”

You can read the full interview, including industry responses, in the next printed edition of Apparel Insider.

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