Asos is banning mohair, cashmere, silk and feather products - why are they unethical?

19th Jun 18 | Beauty

The way these materials are produced could shock you.

Stack of knitted sweaters

Ethical fashion is being discussed more than ever, with many of us going the Stella McCartney route and boycotting materials like leather and fur.

However, what about other products that you might not realise are unethical? Asos has announced its plans to ban the sale of mohair, silk, cashmere, feathers and down on its site. As of January 2019, the e-commerce site won’t be stocking products containing any of these materials.

You might be surprised to hear that some of these products aren’t particularly ethical, but why is this the case?


Asos is joining the likes of Topshop, H&M and Marks & Spencer in banning mohair. This is most likely down to an exposé that PETA published in May, showing the dark side of mohair production.

Mohair is most often used in fluffy jumpers and accessories. It’s taken from angora goats (which is different to angora wool, which comes from rabbits). PETA investigated treatment across 12 angora goat farms in South Africa, where most of the wool comes from. They say goats are roughly handled, mutilated, neglected and killed as soon as they’ve lived out their usefulness, but some South African angora farmers are disputing the allegations.


Cashmere wool and sweaters

Cashmere is synonymous with luxury – it comes from certain types of goat, and is largely produced in countries like China and Mongolia.

Even if the product might be high quality, PETA say the way that it is made is far from it. The popularity of cashmere means that production has increased. The NGO say plots of land are getting overcrowded with animals – and when the goats don’t have enough grass to eat, they will eat the fur of others down to the skin.

Not only this, but the goats are shorn in the middle of winter. As they have so little fat, this means that they’re not properly protected from the weather and can die of cold.


Thanks to fast fashion, it’s becoming increasingly easy to disconnect your new clothes to where they actually come from.

Silk is one of these products. Silkworms produce this fibre to make cocoons for their larvae. When it is taken from them, the insects inside are steamed alive. PETA says that around 3,000 silkworms die per pound of silk.

Luckily, there are a whole lot of ethical alternatives to silk, including nylon and rayon.


This is one of the more obvious products on the list, as birds are often abused for their feathers. Not only is the plucking process painful and bloody for the animals, PETA say they’re often killed as soon as they’ve lived out their purpose.

© Press Association 2018