Stella McCartney, Patagonia & Ovis 21 – PETA's Latest Secret Footage and Why Wool Isn't Ethical
Stella McCartney, fashion designer and daughter of former Beatles member Paul McCartney released the following statement on her Instagram account after footage of abuse from one of Patagonia’s allegedly ethical wool suppliers (Ovis 21 ranches) was posted to PETA’s Youtube channel:
I am very saddened to report that we have had to cease sourcing some of our sustainable wool from Ovis 21 in Patagonia.
It was born as an amazing initiative to help protect a million acres of endangered grasslands in Patagonia whilst looking after the welfare of animals. Unfortunately, after conducting our own investigation in Argentina, following a very distressful viewing of footage provided by the great guys at @officialpeta, we found out that 1 of the 26 ranches we used source sustainable wool there, mistreated its sheep. It is one too many.
@officialpeta @patagonia #patagoniawool#peta
She followed up with this statement:
As a designer who built a brand on not using leather, fur or animal skins in its designs, I can’t tolerate it!
I am devastated by the news but more determined than ever to fight for animal rights in fashion together and monitor even more closely all suppliers involved in this industry to end all innocent lives.
We are also looking into vegan ‘wool’ as well, in the same manner we were able to develop and incorporate high-end alternatives to leather and fur over the years.
@officialpeta @patagonia #patagoniawool
We’ve spent the past several days looking deep into our wool supply chain, shocked by the disturbing footage of animal cruelty that came to light last week. In light of this, we’ve made a frank and open-eyed assessment of the Ovis program. Our conclusion: it is impossible to ensure immediate changes to objectionable practices on Ovis 21 ranches, and we have therefore made the decision that we will no longer buy wool from them. This is a difficult decision, but it’s the right thing to do.
Please read the full statement: http://pat.ag/wme4The
Video released by PETA showing animal mistreatment in the network of ranches where we source our wool is shocking and saddening. We have accepted responsibility and apologize for the harm done in our name. There is no excuse for violent shearing methods and inhumane slaughter.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards, constantly seeking to improve our efforts to be the most sustainable, least harmful to the earth or its animals. Our statement described the disappointment we feel in seeing this disturbing video.
In the statement, we also outline areas where our beliefs differ from PETA’s, and explain some ways the video is misleading. Our partnership with Ovis XXI is built on a radical approach to growing wool, and it’s been a significant and engaging project for us, one we are fully committed to.
Finally, the statement outlines Patagonia’s progressive work in recent years to ensure animal welfare in our wool supply chain, including moving away from the cruel practice of mulesing and leading development of a new global standard for the human treatment of sheep in the wool industry.
We’d encourage you to read the piece in its entirety. The link is in the profile. Photo: Elise Miciu
Incidents like this are recurring reminders that labels are rarely straight-forward in big business (e.g. ‘organic,’ ‘cage-free,’ ‘cruelty-free’) and these ‘oversights’ and ‘instances of negligence’ need to move beyond the all too common shelter of empty promises that it won’t happen again and blame is established somewhere along the line that the public face of the company in question couldn’t have possibly accounted for (despite that being part of their job).
Own up to what it is – indifference or incompetence. I can’t help but be reminded of Donald Trump’s appearance on David Letterman in 2012, in which Letterman points out that Trump, the outspoken American businessman, had his Macy’s line of shirts and ties made in Bangladesh and China despite his infamous anti-immigration attitude. Everyone had a laugh back then and now Trump is running for president.
It’s this lack of owning up to preventable mistakes that really outlines the mentality of consumerism, how animal suffering and exploitation is just the way it is. Don’t get me wrong, companies are dynamic things and growth can get away from owners which can lead to disaster, but watching PETA’s footage makes it pretty clear that this isn’t a recent development in the farm’s operations. It’s nice to see Stella McCartney drop Patagonia, and for Patagonia to own up to their responsibilities, yet I still can’t wash terms like “consumer fraud” out of my mind. Every time someone buys a product on the basis of it being ethically sourced, they likely pay a premium. Now they learn that they paid a premium that contributed to further abuse of animals that they’ve gone out of their way to support and aren’t offered anything resembling consumer redress, they just get a statement that reads “I’m sorry” but reverberates with a soft, almost inaudible “…that I got caught.” Perhaps a public apology just isn’t enough for me anymore.
You can watch the footage yourself via the embedded video below but please note that the three-minute video is #NOTCRUELTYFREE and is unsuitable for animal lovers: