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Valentino Is First Luxury Brand to Drop Alpaca Following PETA Exposé

Valentino became the first luxury house to ban alpaca wool on Wednesday, following a recent People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exposé that appeared to show animals being roughly handled and left bleeding at a farm in Peru.

The Italian brand will phase out its use of the fiber by the end of the year, said the animal-rights group, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear.” (Valentino did not respond to a request for comment.)

“Valentino’s compassionate decision will go a long way in helping to prevent vulnerable alpacas from being abused and shorn bloody for their fleece,” Tracy Reiman, executive vice president at PETA, said in a statement. “Kind shoppers can do their part by steering clear of alpaca fleece and opting for chic, PETA-approved vegan clothing that no animal had to suffer for.”

PETA’s undercover investigation into Mallkini, the world’s largest privately owned alpaca farm, showed workers slamming the animals onto tables, tying and pulling them to a stretching device, roughly shearing their hair and leaving crudely stitched-up wounds and throwing them onto concrete floors.

The grisly scenes prompted Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Maison Numen, Smith & Caughey and Uniqlo to drop alpaca wool from their collections. Gap and H&M severed ties with Mallkini’s parent company, the Michell Group, but have not given up on the material entirely. The brands are now working with Textile Exchange to craft a Responsible Alpaca Standard, currently in draft form, that will verify and identify alpaca fiber produced in farming systems that prioritize animal welfare and the environment.

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Michell Group has pushed back at PETA’s claims that the treatment of alpacas in the video “constitutes established practices,” instead asserting that the video was “clearly edited” to home in on “unacceptable mistreatment practices that were executed by some negligent shearers” who violated established procedures. These images, it added, constitute an “isolated case” that isn’t representative of its regular practices, philosophy and business culture.

“The vast majority of alpacas are quite docile and allow themselves to be sheared with great ease,” a spokesperson previously told Sourcing Journal. “They are kept together with their families and taken to the workspace without any further effort. A small proportion of alpacas do show nervousness and require a little more restraint, but the process still takes a few minutes and is subject to a rigorous handling protocol, to take care of them and not cause them any further stress.”

PETA has mounted similar offensives to get other animal fibers banned, albeit to varying degrees of success. While most brands have been unwilling to budge on sheep’s wool, the most commonly used animal fiber, its 2018 campaign against mohair quickly rallied 320 companies, including Topshop owner Arcadia Group, Asos, Gap, H&M and Inditex-owned Zara, to phase out the use of the less widely employed goat hair.