Wool is a fan favorite for the colder months of the year, and for good reason. It’s soft, warm, and can be worn as any of your favorite winter layers. It's a totally natural fibre, which means, if it isn't mixed with other fibres when it's produced, it can be composted (and you all KNOW how much I love composting!) It's super durable - even resistant to flame, if that's something that you are worried about - and wicks moisture away from the body keeping you warm and dry all winter. There is a reason humans have been using wool to cover their bodies for literal centuries, and why it's still so popular today. It's awesome!
But, unfortunately, there are some bad bits to the wool story. Whether you are an old or new follower of my clothing, you’ll notice I work primarily with natural materials like tencel (check out my blog all about tencel here), organic cotton and hemp, while avoiding synthetic and also animal fibres, including wool. This isn’t because I don’t enjoy wool or think it would do well with my line, it’s because of the way that the majority of wool in the market is obtained. Womp Womp.
I won’t go into great details about the exact process because frankly it is quite gruesome and incredibly sad, I will however explain it in the lightest and fluffiest way possible. If you didn’t know, wool is a soft fiber obtained from sheep (CUTE!) and is very popular because it absorbs moisture to keep you warm but continues to breathe (which is why it’s a great material for fall and winter). Majority of the worlds wool comes from Australia, where sheep have been bred to have wrinkly skin. Wrinkly skin means more surface area, which means more wool! This excess of cute sheep fluff presents itself as a problem for the sheep because when they “do their business”, it gets caught in the hind area and attracts flies. SO, to avoid this, farmers perform what is called mulesing. Now this is where it gets shocking… The basis of this process is that the farmer strips away chunks of skin from the sheep’s hindquarters, causing a hard, painful callus. No dirty wool, no flies. However, often times the sheep are given no painkillers nor antibiotics and the exposed skin becomes inflected, which attracts more flies anyways. Awful stuff. (For more information on mulesing, check out the PETA website here.)
I’m sorry if I’ve ruined your favorite sweater for you, but there is some light in all this sadness. Big global companies like Adidas and HUGO BOSS are avoiding and even banning the use of wool in their lines due to the animal cruelty behind mulesing! The best way to help support the banning of mulesing is to avoid purchasing virgin wool items all together.
Now, I don't meant to turn you off of wool completely, I'm just explaining the reasons that we don't use it in our collections. There are plenty of ways to still be able to wear AND love wool! And really, it's as simple are doing some research (ah yes… the thing we all love doing the most).
#1: Make sure you know where the wool is coming from before you purchase it. This could mean asking the sales person if they know, googling the brand, or reading the tag! Lots of brands are switching to muelsing-free wool, and trust me, if they are using it, they will be shouting it from the rooftops and you won't have to dig very deep to find information.
#2: Shop second hand for your wool goodies. Wool lasts preeeetttyyy much forever if it's taken care of well, so it's always possible to find beautiful wool garments in your favourite thrift shop. Anyways, good, 100% wool garments are hard to find (and expensive!) nowadays, so better to find them at a discount anyways.
#3: Lots of amazing companies (local Victoria company Anian is a great example) are using recycled wool - wool that has been taken from discarded wool garments, broken down to fibres, and re-spun into beautiful wool yarn again! You get a beautiful new wool sweater, and no animals were harmed in the (re)making of it!
Final words: This isn't a political stand. To us, cruelty-free is just good business.
Here at (Ag)+(Au) we believe natural fabrics are always best, and one day plan on figuring out a cruelty-free, sustainable way to use wool in our collection. We believe that it's our duty as a business to improve life on the planet (be it animal, plant or human) through being conscious about where our raw materials come from, how they are being obtained and the conditions they are being produced in. So until we find a wool supplier we can 100% back, we'll stick to our plants, thank you very much.
Being a conscious consumer helps more people than just yourself, it also helps improve the lives of animals that provide you with the products you know and love!