Burberry Faces Pressure From PETA US Over Cashmere and Feathers at Annual Meeting
London – At Burberry’s annual meeting yesterday, representatives from shareholders including PETA US pushed the company to ban cashmere and feathers following damning PETA Asia investigations into goat and duck farms and slaughterhouses linked to the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) – of which Burberry is a co-founder – and the misleadingly labelled Responsible Down Standard (RDS) that the fashion house touts in its responsible sourcing policy.
“Burberry claims that it doesn’t knowingly use materials that ‘may inflict any harm to animal welfare’, yet terrified goats, geese, and ducks are suffering horribly for its designs,” says PETA Vice President of Corporate Projects Yvonne Taylor. “Now that Burberry is aware of exactly what happens in its supply chain, PETA is calling on the company to ban cashmere and feathers and switch to animal-friendly vegan materials instead.”
A new PETA Asia investigation released earlier this week revealed workers at SFA-certified cashmere farms pinning down goats by their legs and horns and pulling out their hair with sharp metal combs as the animals screamed in pain and terror and were left with bloody wounds. A herder cut kid goats’ scrotums open with a knife and pulled out their testicles, all without pain relief. In slaughterhouses, workers bludgeoned goats in the head with a hammer before slitting their throats. SFA guidelines don’t require annual farm audits or the use of pain relief for castration or for injuries sustained during violent restraining and combing – and consider treating animals “humanely” prior to slaughter to be a recommendation, not a requirement.
Recent PETA Asia investigations into farms and slaughterhouses in the down trade have revealed ducks with bloody wounds being kept in dirty, dark sheds; a worker cutting conscious, terrified ducks’ necks as they struggled; and geese shrieking as a worker repeatedly hacked at their necks with a blunt axe before eventually decapitating them. Feathers from these facilities were later sold as RDS-certified.
Numerous exposés by PETA entities reveal that suffering, violence, and killing are ubiquitous in the down and cashmere industries. PETA notes that many luxurious vegan materials are readily available to replace cashmere and feathers. The full text of the questions posed to Burberry is available below.
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.uk or follow the group on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram.
Sascha Camilli +44 207 923 6244; [email protected]
The questions posed to Burberry follow.
My name is Yvonne Taylor, and I have a question on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Burberry is implicated in a new PETA Asia investigation that reveals extreme cruelty to and violent killing of cashmere goats. Workers pinned goats down by their legs and horns and pulled the hair out of their sensitive skin with sharp metal combs. This process left animals with bloody wounds, and an investigator even found cashmere with skin still attached. A herder cut kid goats’ scrotums open with a knife and pulled out their testicles without any pain relief. During the repeated assaults, the goats screamed in pain. In slaughterhouses, workers bludgeoned goats in the head with a hammer and slit their throats. Some animals continued to move for as long as four minutes while they bled out.
The Sustainable Fibre Alliance, of which Burberry is a founding partner, “certified” each of these establishments I’ve just described. The hair ripped out of these goats was sold to suppliers linked to the alliance and could be in the cashmere scarves, sweaters, and teddy bears in Burberry’s stores.
Burberry’s responsible sourcing policy says the company doesn’t knowingly use materials that “may inflict any harm to animal welfare,” and your 2021 impact assessment identified cashmere production as one of your worst materials for biodiversity. Knowing now that cashmere production harms animals and the planet, will you take immediate action by removing cashmere from Burberry’s supply chain and using only humane, more sustainable vegan yarns in future collections?
My name is Kate Werner, and I have a question concerning Burberry’s policy on feathers.
We were delighted to read on The Business of Fashion and in other media outlets that the decorative “feathers” in Daniel Lee’s debut Burberry collection were, in fact, faux and to see that your most recent responsible sourcing policy no longer mentions ostrich feathers, which – as a co-product of farming ostriches for their skins – would clearly contradict your ban on exotic skins.
However, the policy says Burberry continues to source down feathers “exclusively from Responsible Down Standard certified suppliers”. PETA has repeatedly exposed this feather industry marketing scheme for failing to protect birds and for misleading customers. Recent investigations have revealed ducks being kept in dirty, dark sheds with bloody wounds and others unable to stand; a slaughterhouse worker cutting conscious, terrified ducks’ necks as they struggled; and geese shrieking as a worker repeatedly hacked at their necks with an axe before decapitating them. Feathers from these facilities were all later sold under the Responsible Down Standard.
Will you please confirm a ban on decorative bird feathers in Burberry’s collections and switch to feather-free fillers made from innovative materials, such as recycled plastic bottles and tree fibres, that excel when it comes to performance and warmth whilst leaving birds in peace?