Outdoorsy brand Patagonia prides itself on ethical and transparent sourcing. It’s no surprise, then, that the Ventura, California-based company conducted an investigation into Ovis 21 after graphic footage from PETA exposed animal cruelty and declared Monday it would cease purchasing wool from the supplier.
“Patagonia’s partnership with Ovis 21 has been a source of pride because of the program’s genuine commitment to regenerating the grassland ecosystem, but this work must come equally with respectful and humane treatment of the animals that contribute to this endeavor,” CEO Rose Marcario said in a post on the brand’s The Cleanest Line blog. “We are dismayed to witness such horrifying mistreatment.”
Patagonia first teamed up with Ovis 21—a network of more than 160 farmers in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile—in 2011 to source wool from certified ranchers that adhere to strict protocols for grazing and land management, flock improvement and shearing.
But Marcario admitted that Patagonia “failed to implement a comprehensive process to assure animal welfare” and PETA’s video allegedly shows inhumane treatment of lambs and sheep, such as castration, tail docking and violent shearing methods.
She added, “It is impossible to ensure immediate changes to objectionable practices on Ovis 21 ranches, and we have therefore made the decision that we will no longer buy wool from them. This is a difficult decision, but it’s the right thing to do.”
The news follows British fashion designer Stella McCartney’s announcement on Thursday that her brand would cut ties with Ovis 21. In a post on her Facebook page she said she was “devastated by the news” and would look into developing a high-end alternative to wool instead.
Patagonia, meanwhile, plans to carry on using wool in its designs and search for a supplier that can ensure animal welfare, while also fostering healthy grasslands.
“We will continue to sell products made from the wool we’ve already purchased. And we will continue to offer excellent synthetic alternatives for those who prefer them, while constantly pushing to innovate and invest in new materials and better supply chains,” Marcario noted. “But Patagonia will not buy wool again until we can assure our customers of a verifiable process that ensures the humane treatment of animals.”