French Connection is the latest apparel retailer to suspend production of all angora-based items following reports of routine rabbit abuse in China. The U.K.-based firm joins the likes of ASOS, Esprit, H&M, and Zara in declaring an indefinite moratorium on the fiber, which has been plagued by accusations of worker misconduct since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals first released footage of the alleged cruelty in November. “Plucking a rabbit without causing harm takes up to two weeks of gently removing the loosened hair, but here it takes only a few, violent minutes,” notes PETA in the video. “After this tortuous experience, which the rabbits endure every three months, many of them appeared to go into shock, lying motionless inside their tiny, filthy cages.”
French Connection, whose ban will take “immediate affect,” says it would never allow or condone the plucking of fur from live rabbits.
“We have always maintained the highest standards in our supply chain and have taken steps to ensure that the angora used in French Connection clothing is carefully collected by shearing and that the rabbits are not mistreated,” the company says in a statement. “As a fashion brand we are responsive to our customers and to trends in the market and, despite the steps we have taken to ensure high standards in angora production, we recognize some customers have concerns about the continued inclusion of these fabrics in our ranges.”
Nearly 90 percent of all angora fur hails from China, where penalties for animal abuse on farms are next to nonexistent, according to PETA.
“When you buy a sweater, hat, or other product that contains angora, the angora fur most likely originated in China, even if the finished product was assembled elsewhere,” says PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. “Ever since PETA exposed how sensitive rabbits’ fur is ripped out of their bodies, shoppers know that if a label says ‘angora,’ it means cruelty to animals.”