Several hours after Boohoo Group announced it was phasing out wool from its lineup, the U.K.-based company says it will continue to use the fiber as part of its “ongoing commitment to a more sustainable future.”
The about-turn is bound to have given People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) whiplash. Declaring “victory” on Friday, the British arm of the animal-rights group took credit for showing Boohoo executives footage of Scottish farmers striking sheep in the faces and other animal-unfriendly behavior.
“After PETA informed Boohoo Group about shocking, systemic cruelty in the wool industry, the global online fashion retailer announced that it will no longer produce items made with wool,” PETA wrote in a since-deleted post.
But Boohoo, which operates fast-fashion brands Boohoo.com, PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, was immediately criticized by wool producers, including one sheep farmer that told Sky News he was “absolutely disgusted” by the move.
Boohoo then followed up with a statement that walked back its decision.
“Boohoo continues to assess all options as part of its ongoing commitment to a more sustainable future,” it read. “We are committed to ensuring the wool used in our supply chain comes from good husbandry and meets high levels of animal welfare, and will continue to use wool as a sustainable material.”
In a bizarre twist, none of Boohoo’s brands appear to sell any items that contain wool, a fact that prompted the Telegraph, a British newspaper, to question whether the initial announcement was “simply a PR stunt.” A cursory search seemed to bear this assessment out: A collared “wool look” jacket on Boohoo.com, for instance, comprises 100 percent polyester, while a tartan-check coat on Nasty Gal consists of 80 percent acrylic and 20 percent polyester. A borg bomber from PrettyLittleThing? Also 100 percent polyester.
If the ban had stuck, Boohoo would have been the first mainstream British retailer to outlaw wool.