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The $4billion global cashmere industry is under threat as it joins the ranks of silk, mohair and feathers on the list of banned natural fibre products by a growing number of international retailers.
Asos, the second biggest clothing site in the UK and Swedish clothing giant H&M, have both pledged to stop ordering cashmere by the end of 2020. Other retailers and fashion houses are following suit and have already moved to stop sales of animal-based products such as fur, down, teeth, bone and mother-of-pearl. The groundswell is largely as a result of consumer pressure, particularly from animal rights activists such as vegan charity Peta
which has released video footage showing alleged mistreatment of goats on a Chinese cashmere farm. The video appears to show a distressed goat being combed for its valuable coat.
Wool too, is still being tarred by a damning Peta campaign in 2015 which documented widespread mistreatment of sheep in South America. The campaign had huge implications for clothing brands, notably clothing multinational Patagonia. The result was the formation of the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which brought together more than 70 retail organisations to provide an assurance to consumers that the wool or fibre they were wearing or using in their textiles, came from responsibly treated sheep.
New Zealand Cashmere managing director David Shaw said the local cashmere industry was certainly aware of the challenges.
''The video has played on some misconceptions about how cashmere is produced. We don't have to pull the hair out, we collect the fibre when it is released as a natural process.
''We tend to farm very differently . . .''