think, with the history of wool, that nothing could be nicer to the earth. It’s biodegradable, can withstand most weather conditions, and keeps our wandering souls warm.
lambs jumping at the sides of their freshly sheared mama’s at the start of
spring, enjoying a new lightnesss only nature and the friendly farmer’s shearer can bring. The farmer calls each sheep by name, they’ve even named the babies, who wear small bells around their neck tied with multicoloured ribbions. Indoors, the farmer’s partner, washes, drys and spins his/her pets’ wool, ready
to be knit into every cosy thing imaginable. Free of dyes or harmful chemicals.
Completely at one with nature and love made from cradle to creation.
in today’s money hungry age of having lots and caring not, the story is not so simple. Even nature’s gifts can
be tainted by the ever present inhumane human hand.
had a conversation with some vegan friends about their choices for cosy
apparel. Vegan’s believe, and rightly so, that we shouldn’t use by-products
from our furry, feathered or fauna friends without permission from them, and until we can learn to
speak the various lingos above and below land, must find other options.
for vegans is the other options available, often leave only synthetic choices (wheter it’s leather, knits or otherwise), which are
horrible for the earth and her inhabitants, including all wildlife. It’s a
catch 22, avoiding harming animals by avoiding their byproducts and harming animals anyway because the alternatives to their byproducts are harmful to wildlife.
be this way.
recently, about alpaca (here), and how I feel, even under the policies of the vegan
community the sheer fact the alpaca must feel love, respect and companionship
from their keepers to produce a viable fibre (if they’re unhappy their FUR drys
out and becomes matted and discoloured making it impossible to ‘profit’ from).
It is possibly one of the few commerce relationships between human and animal
that is unprofitable without Love.
have the same visible communication techniques as their other furry friends (though I believe if you look in any
animal’s eyes you’ll see a recognizable spectrum of emotions). There have been
horrific videos of late from wool farms where the sheep are beaten and sheared
til bleeding and often killed in the process of acquiring their wool (wool production can also be a byproduct of the meat industry).
of the few times I’ll beg you to watch something horrible, the animal rights
abuses seen in this video for sheep being sheered for J.Crew and Ralph Lauren
are absolutely heartbreaking.
In THIS VIDEO you will see workers (who provide wool to fast fashion companies you find in the mall / hight street) violently punching, kicking, and throwing terrified sheep
during their shearing session. One clip depicts a shearer twisting and breaking
a sheep neck, before dumping the body, another shows shearers jabbing at sheep
eyes and hitting them on the head with a hammer. It’s completely fucked up and wrong. It took me about ten goes to get through the whole video, it’s absolutely horrifying. But it doesn’t stop there, Peta investigated a supplier called Ovis 21, which supplies to brands like Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Christopher Kane, Gucci, Volcom and Saint Laurent and in their investigation they filmed THIS VIDEO which depects workers skinning the animal alive. Until this video came out Ovis 21 were also supplying ethical brands Patagonia and Stella McCartney, both brands have since stopped sourcing from this Ovis 21, though the luxury brands listed remain as clients.
The reality is, if you take
wool lightly, you’re taking animal life lightly. And once you’ve watched the videos I linked in above, you’ll have no choice but to be conscious of what your decisions support.
shops, to keep avoid any temptations from seductive wooly sweaters, as I
know, without accreditation for being an eco and ethical brand, that wool is 99.9%
likely to have come from an abused (or murdered) animal, processed by an abused human, bathed
in chemical dyes, then sold by a shit company for personal profits.
a story I want held close to my skin.
It’s pretty simple, I’d say, quite honestly, to try to stick to Alpaca and
make sure it comes from a reliable source (you’ve gotta drop the fast fashion buys).
When it comes to wool, look for a
loved up transparent label. A brand that at least claims to be ethical and
ecological (I’m not talking about H&M and the other greenwashers like them
here, I’m talking about genuine humans who run a genuine business because they
genuinely want to change the world).
almost impossible to maintain ethical wool, or ethical anything for that
matter, in situations of mass production (what you’ll find in the malls and on
the high street). To be sustainable, sheep must be native breeds on home soils
from small farms who treat their heard like family.
Sounds cheesy, I know, but for eff sakes, it’s the only thing you can do to ensure you’re not wearing abuse or murder on your skin.
I haven’t even touched on the inhumane human labour that comes after the sheep’s are abused, nor the chemical dyes which seep into your pores as you sweat in your wool. We’ll dave that for another story.
Buying “British wool” or “American wool” doesn’t even bring you safety as both these labels permit 50% of wool to be imported and tracing the wool back to a specific flock isn’t part of their legal responsibilities.
I’d recommend are as follows:
IZZY LANE Isobel Davis rescued a herd of 500 rare-bred sheep from slaughter for her label, and has been producing knitwear from this loved up herd since. Her clothing and knitwear is made local to the farm which keeps the Izzy Lane sheep by neighbouring craftsmen – the last worsted spinners and dyers in the Brandford area. The cloth is woven at an ancient mill in Selkirk using Victorian machinery that has been operating for over a hundred years. You can see Izzy Lane‘s collections here.
TWIGS & WOOL Sustainable Baltimore based brand who sources their organic wool from a small family owned and operated farm in Maine, which is dyed with organic dye. I’m wearing the snood I was gifted by them in these photos, I’ve since donated the snood to one of the women who was amongst the Sudanese refugees who were living under the bridge near my home. You can see their lovely handmade collection here.
BRUNELLO CUCINELLI lives by his own mantra that ‘profit can be sought without damaging mankind’ and produces his entire collection ethically and sustainably. Brunello Cucinelli’s designs are made by talented craftspeople who live in a sustainable village in Umbria, Italy, which Brunello Cucinelli himself has donated his money towards restoring and renvoating. He produces his knitwear with ethically sourced wool and pure cashmere, sourced locally. You can see his collection here.