‘Humane Washing!’ PETA Calls Out J.Crew’s Cashmere Claims

For Immediate Release:
February 19, 2021

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

New York

To assure consumers that it’s ethical, J.Crew has announced its adoption of a “good” cashmere standard, causing PETA to fire off a letter this morning to the company’s CEO, Libby Wadle, calling out the numerous ways in which the “standard” fails to protect animals and dupes potential buyers. PETA is urging the company to be honest about the suffering involved in cashmere, which is shown in videotaped investigations, and stop selling it.

PETA says J.Crew realizes that consumers are unlikely to discover shocking facts about the “standard,” including these: It allows farmers untrained in euthanasia to kill baby goats by inflicting blunt force trauma on them and farmers to tear out the hair of live goats with sharp, metal rakes; it doesn’t require any certification of off-farm slaughter sites, which could include those similar to the slaughterhouses in which PETA Asia eyewitnesses found workers bashing goats on the head with a hammer and slitting their throats; and it requires only 10% of “certified” farms to be audited just once a year.

“J.Crew is struggling financially and is apparently desperate enough to try duping customers with sham standards that don’t protect animals from extreme cruelty,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on the company to drop cashmere and stop ‘humane washing’—or it may find itself on the wrong end of a consumer fraud lawsuit.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Wadle follows.

Libby Wadle, CEO

J.Crew Group

Dear Ms. Wadle:

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, I’m writing to express deep disappointment in response to J.Crew’s announcement that your company has chosen to hide behind the meaningless “good” cashmere “standard,” which will never eliminate cruelty. Please reconsider, and I’ll explain why we think you would benefit from doing so.

J.Crew is going to be exposed as untruthful in claiming to care about animal welfare if it continues to sell cashmere, and today’s (especially young) consumers will out you.

The company is financially drowning, but grabbing at humane-washing catchphrases to peddle the same old cruel “materials” shows a startling lack of cultural awareness and will not save you. In the midst of a global pandemic, companies are examining their impact on society and how they can be more empathetic. This societal reckoning must include a reflection on all the deeply disturbing ways in which animals are raised and killed for their skin, wool, and hair, including cashmere.

PETA has released exposés of dozens of facilities around the world that all reveal that animals used for clothing are mutilated, abused, and even, not uncommonly, skinned alive, including on “sustainable” and “responsible” farms. Labeling items containing cashmere as “good” is a transparent attempt to distract from what’s actually happening to animals, and standards won’t prevent most suffering, even if followed to the letter. The “good” cashmere standard (GCS) is cruel for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • It allows for the use of blunt-force trauma for the euthanasia of kids up to 7 days old (0.5). This is a killing method that the American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend for obvious reasons. The GCS does not even require farmers or employees to attend a training on the correct way to euthanize a goat (8.0.7). Frankly, the fact that this is even part of a standard with the word “good” in it should be enough to show that there is something wrong here.
  • The GCS does not require the certification of off-farm slaughter sites (0). PETA Asia’s investigation revealed that slaughterhouse workers hit goats on the head with a hammer and slit their throats. In one slaughterhouse, workers did not even attempt to stun them. Some animals were moving for minutes after having been struck.
  • Pain relief for kid castration is not a requirement (3.3).
  • Herders are allowed to shear goats using a sharp metal comb (0.3), even though this method has been banned by other guidelines and is considered much more painful and injurious to the animals. PETA Asia’s investigation showed that workers pinned frightened, crying goats to the ground; bound their legs; and ripped (I do not use that word lightly) out their hair with combs. This terrifying and violent ordeal left the animals with cuts for which they received no pain relief or veterinary care whatsoever.
  • The GCS does not specify a maximum time that goats can be restrained during shearing and instead says that it “must be kept as short as possible” (0.8). Goats are prey animals, meaning that they’re terrified of being pinned down. Handling prey animals causes them extreme stress, as fight or flight is their deeply ingrained instinctual response.
  • Farms are allowed to parallel-produce both GCS-certified cashmere and noncertified cashmere (0.7, p. 34). Certified buying stations are also allowed to process both GCS-certified cashmere and noncertified cashmere (3.0.11). There is therefore a lack of transparency and accountability in the supply chain and no guarantee that a company is actually purchasing “certified” cashmere.
  • The Aid by Trade Foundation, which administers the GCS, requires only a minimum of 10% of the “certified” farms to be annually audited.

This program is a sham. Given the cruelty inherent in the cashmere industry, the environmental impact of raising cashmere goats, and the abundance of cruelty-free, eco-friendly vegan cashmere options available, there is no reason to continue to sell cashmere from goats. It is time to act to end this suffering and stop attempting to dupe consumers with “standards” that absolutely do not protect animals from abuse. It’s also time to end this humane-washing advertising—or you may find yourself on the wrong end of a consumer fraud complaint or lawsuit. I do not mean that as a threat but as an appeal to change. We are always here to assist in any way you may wish us to, but we cannot let this pass.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk



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