Vicuña: Wealth in Wool

(Photo: Emaze)

In modern history, the animals rightfully owning the en vogue skins and furs have literally been hunted to the brink extinction; and in at least 13 cases, made extinct!!!  That’s right, we totally wiped out a species- the Steller’s Sea Cow, which is similar to dugongs and manatees.   Whenever a species is targeted for its skin or fur, or in the above cases even its meat and fat, it can cause that species’ very existence to be threatened.

According to Business of Fashion, Vicuña wool is on the rise.  What are Vicuñas?  They’re like “miniature cinnamon-hued cousins of the llama,” apparently.  They are were identified as endangered after their wool had become widely sought after during the 50’s.  Loro Piana has been working to reacquaint the highest echelons of society with the forgotten more expensive cousin of cashmere…yes, it’s way more expensive- Vicuña costs about seven times the price of cashmere…and that’s for the wool alone, not the finished product!

LVMH purchased 4/5 of Loro Piana for $2,000,000,000 in 2013, and the brand has practically cornered the market.  The luxury market has responded well, which makes sense given the price point, its being paired with chinchilla and mink, met with the lure exclusivity, it seems a match made in heaven.

Keep an eye out: Ethics in Purchasing Wool

You all likely know my stance on furs and skins- it’s evil!  But what about wool, in which the animal isn’t skinned?  There have been ethical concerns with wool and shearing in the past, and there are some things to keep in mind when considering the ethics of purchasing or producing wools.

Other Kinds of Wool: It may be called wool, mohair, pashmina, shahtoosh, or cashmere. But no matter what it’s called, any kind of wool means suffering for animals.”

Contrary to what many consumers think, “shearling” is not sheared wool. A shearling is a yearling sheep who has been shorn once. A shearling garment is made from the skin and coat of a sheep or a lamb who was shorn shortly before slaughter; the skin is tanned with the wool still on it.

Cashmere is made from the coats of cashmere goats, who are kept by the millions in China and Mongolia, which dominate the market for this “luxury” material (PETA).

  • Mutilation: Mulesing, involves “removing large swaths of skin and flesh from the area around the anus..and…vulva...” In, “Think wool is harmless? Think Again,” Ethical Man‘s Dan Mims went on to explain that, despite claims, this is not done for the sheep’s benefit, and “nearly all wool-farmed sheep are tail-docked and castrated (if male), and their ears are hole-punched.  While this pertains to sheep, we can foresee how breeding can have a similar effect on other species.
  • Abuse: “A PETA investigation of more than 30 shearing sheds in the U.S. and Australia uncovered rampant abuse. Shearers were caught punching, kicking, and stomping on sheep, in addition to hitting them in the face with electric clippers and standing on their heads, necks, and hind limbs. One shearer was seen beating a lamb in the head with a hammer. Another even used a sheep’s body to wipe the sheep’s own urine off the floor. And yet another shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it.”

We as consumers have an ethical responsibility to shop wisely concerning our values and beliefs in regards to animal cruelty- we must be informed about what it is we’re purchasing, whether or not something is cruelty free.  While I respect our need to eat animals- we do not have a need to torture anything, especially for fashion and style.  Think before you buy!

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