What is Mohair?
Mohair is a luxury fibre produced from the long curly hair of angora goats. It’s one of several fine fibres that are commonly seen as ‘luxurious’ in the fashion industry. Others in this group include angora wool (a soft wool that comes from angora rabbits), alpaca (a dry fibre harvested from alpacas), yak (the long coat hair from cows usually found in the Himalayan region) and cashmere (a very fine fibre usually obtained from cashmere and pashmina goats).
Angora goats produce around 3-8kg of mohair per year and are typically shorn twice a year. The mohair is then used to make various clothing items such as sweatshirts, hats and scarves.
Where is Mohair Produced?
Most of the world’s mohair (over 50%) comes from South Africa, the second largest producer is Texas in the USA, and other large producers are Australia and Turkey.
Although only small amounts of mohair originate from the UK, a great deal of production takes place here. The UK imports roughly 60% of the mohair produced globally, and uses it to make clothing items that are sold here, or exported to other countries.
Why Is Mohair Cruel?
Around 5,000 tonnes of mohair are produced each year, and millions of angora goats suffer greatly as part of this industry:
- During the sheering process, goats (who are naturally prey animals) suffer severe distress being pinned down while shorn
- Unlike sheep, goats do not have insulating layers of body fat to keep them warm after shearing, so they are vulnerable to death by exposure and pneumonia
- The natural life-expectancy of an angora goat is ten years, but most goats in the mohair industry are killed well before then, as soon as they are deemed no longer ‘profitable’
Mohair is evidence that animal furs and skins are not always a ‘by-product’ of the meat industry. Although many angora goats are eventually slaughtered for their meat, they are still an example of animals reared for fashion.
We Need More Compassion in Fashion!
To make kinder fashion choices, you can avoid mohair and shop for animal-friendly alternatives. You could consider buying second-hand clothing from places such as charity shops, and if you are buying brand new, there are several sustainable alternatives you can choose when out shopping:
1) Recycled acrylic - made from recycled plastic. This is the most widely used fabric for a wool alternative
2) Recycled polyester – made from recycled plastic bottles. Also widely used and requires only 30% of the energy that polyester does
3) Organic cotton – no use of chemicals of GMOs. Organic cotton products are produced without using harmful synthetic chemicals or additives
4) TENCEL™ Lyocell – made from wood pulp. This is manufactured through an environmentally-friendly process and is biodegradable and recyclable