Will J.Crew Save Itself by Ditching Wool and Cashmere?

PETA Appeal Follows Company’s Bankruptcy Filing Amid COVID-19 Store Closures

For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2020

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

New York

Following reports that J.Crew Group—which operates the J.Crew and Madewell brands—has become the first national retailer to file for bankruptcy protection since the COVID-19 pandemic began, PETA fired off a letter this morning calling on it to take the first step toward saving itself by banning wool and cashmere.

“Today’s compassionate shoppers look for products that are kind to animals and the planet, so wool and cashmere just don’t make the cut,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on J.Crew to leave cruelty to gentle sheep and goats behind as it reevaluates its business practices.”

A PETA Asia investigation of cashmere farms and slaughterhouses in China and Mongolia showed that goats were left with bloody, gaping wounds from the hair-removal process—and just recently, an Australian sheep shearer pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals after being caught beating sheep in the face with heavy electric clippers during a separate PETA Asia investigation. In addition, the wool industry produces an extremely large volume of greenhouse gases, and the cashmere industry is a significant contributor to soil degradation and deforestation.

Just last month, PETA purchased stock in a variety of clothing companies—including Express, Burberry, and Lands’ End—in order to push them to ban wool and cashmere.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to J.Crew CEO Jan Singer follows.

May 7, 2020

Jan Singer

Chief Executive Officer


Dear Ms. Singer,

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, we hope this e-mail finds you well in this challenging time. Your proven track record as a consumer-centric leader, building and positioning global brands such as Spanx for long-term growth, certainly lends itself to your goal of revamping J.Crew to resonate with young, fashionable consumers. We hope that as the company emerges from bankruptcy, you’ll use this opportunity to reposition the brand as one truly in line with today’s socially conscious consumers by sourcing only vegan materials—and as a first step, eliminating cruelly obtained wool and cashmere.

PETA and our international affiliates have exposed cruelty to sheep at 116 operations on four continents, including in Australia (multiple times), the U.S., Chile, Argentina, England, and Scotland, and at every single one, workers punched sheep in the face and beat them with sharp metal clippers. They’re usually paid by the volume, which encourages fast, violent work and often leads to gaping wounds, which they roughly stitch up with no painkillers. We have previously urged J.Crew to stop selling wool, and now is the time to do it.

PETA and our members have also been urging Madewell to drop cashmere in favor of animal-friendly materials. PETA’s exposé into the cashmere industry revealed that workers pinned crying goats to the ground, bound their legs, and tore out their hair with sharp metal combs. When goats are no longer profitable, they’re sent to slaughterhouses, where workers hit them on the head with a hammer and slit their throat.

Doing away with wool and cashmere would go a long way toward creating a sustainable future and connecting with the largest shopping demographic: Gen Z and Millennials. Animal agriculture—which includes wool and cashmere production—is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the world’s transportation, and data from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) found that wool has a more significant impact on climate change than the majority of vegan materials. Cashmere has the highest environmental impact per kilo of any animal-derived fiber.

You said J.Crew has led specialty retail by “putting the consumer first and at the center,” and consumers, now more than ever before, are looking to brands to do the right thing. That includes acting responsibly toward animals and the planet. In fact, vegan clothing, accessories, and footwear saw a 54% increase at U.S. retail stores in the first half of 2019. Vogue Business reported a 180% increase in vegan apparel sales in the U.K. since 2017.

It’s up to retailers like J.Crew to refuse to profit from animals’ suffering any longer. For more than a decade, PETA has pushed J.Crew to act, and it seems that failure to do so is not helping the company. But there is still time, and banning wool and cashmere would bring the much-needed socially conscious demographic to your stores.


Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President


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