October 10 2021 – Diana Aldescu
What is angora wool and how sustainable is it?
Well hello everyone! Hope you liked our last article because we have a new one for you today! We are going on a little adventure with a new fabric! Here comes, angora.
Angora is a fabric we have never experimented with before, but we did our research. We are super excited to share with you our thoughts, keeping it 100% real. We will share with you the pros and cons of angora, and finally, answer the big question: Should you buy this fabric? Ok, we kept you waiting enough, let’s get going!
Where does angora wool come from?
Well, let’s first start with the name itself. Back in the day, the city of Ankara in Turkey was known as Angora. You guessed it, this is where Angora rabbits were bred for the first time. It is quite unclear when these cute, fluffy, rabbits were bred, but by the 18th century, they were all over Europe. As a fabric, angora fibres gained popularity around the 1920s. Angora started as a great fabric for sweaters. Soon enough, it was seen as “a fashion item for women” due to its incredible softness. So, by the late 1950s, angora wool production was blooming. American entrepreneurs started establishing businesses using angora. They produced not only sweaters but scarves, hats and socks, too.
How is the angora fabric made?
To put it in simple words, angora fabric comes from a specific type of rabbit, the angora rabbit. There are 4 types of rabbits: English, French, Giant and Satin. The angora rabbits must be groomed weekly to prevent hair from matting. As well, they are fully sheared every 3-4 months.
The process of creating angora fabric involves animals, but it doesn’t mean they get harmed. The NARBC stated that if shearing is done correctly, it keeps the rabbit in good condition. As the wool is ready to shed naturally, removing it will not harm the animal.
English, French and Satin rabbits produce around less than 1 pound of fur annually. But Giants can produce up to 2.5 pounds, wow! These guys are super fluffy indeed. The sheared hair is then spun into yarn. But, the hair is very light and thin, so it needs to be blended with other soft wools. Once this happens, it can be woven into fabric.
Benefits of the angora fabric
We dived deep into the pros of buying angora fabric. Here they are:
Thin fibres: One of the best things about angora fabric is that it’s super soft and fluffy. Clothing made from angora also tends to be very lightweight. Angora wool has a similar feel to organic cotton.
Colourful: Angora can be dyed very easily, so this fabric comes in many different colours. From grey to pink, let’s go!
Thermal insulator: On cold days like this, a sweatshirt made from this fabric is perfect! It will guarantee to keep you warm.
Durable: Angora fabric is a strong fabric, so wear it with no worries!
Anti-static: You don’t have to worry about that annoying build-up of electricity. When you take off your sweater made from angora, your hair will stay safe
Warm AF: This fabric tends to keep you super warm, even 6 times warmer than other fabrics such as cotton.
And now, some cons
Hand wash: Garments from angora have to be hand-washed so the yarn doesn’t lose strength. This can be quite off-putting for some people.
Flyaway threads: It is very hard to control and manipulate the angora fabric. Clothing made from it tends to have wispy, flyaway threads.
Animal fur: An obvious con is that angora is made from rabbit fur. Although the rabbit’s fur needs to be shorn, not all farms follow the right procedure.
Expensive: Angora is one of the most expensive types of wool. The production of angora fabric is very time consuming and costly.
Now comes the real questions…
Is angora sustainable?
On the positive side, angora can be quite a sustainable fabric. Angora wool production has a very small footprint. Its production is mostly natural and the rabbits are, of course, herbivores.
Angora wool is a natural fibre as it is made from the fur of angora rabbits. Rabbits naturally moult and benefit from their hair being removed. As well, angora fabric can be made without or very few chemicals in the production process.
Angora wool is also fully biodegradable. The fabric breaks down easily when the garment is no longer usable. You could plant it in your back garden if you wanted.
Is angora ethical?
Now we are asking the real question. Although angora ticks a lot of boxes for sustainability, it doesn’t mean it is ethical. Angora came under a lot of controversies. PETA released a video about the poor conditions these fluffy rabbits are treated in. 90% of angora farming takes place in China where there are no standards to regulate the treatment of angora rabbits. As well, there are no penalties for animal abuse. It is very hard to believe angora fabric can be in fact done in an ethical way.
Large-scale commercial angora production uses more than 50 million rabbits annually. They are kept in cramped cages, under poor living conditions. Farmers usually favour plucking the fur of the angora rabbits. This is a faster process and longer angora hair attracts a higher price. But this practice is known to cause the animals distress and pain. As well, as the rabbits age, they yield less fur, so farmers see them as no longer useful and get rid of them.
How are these issues addressed?
Angora itself is not the problem, but the mass production of it is. But, there are possible ways around it. Harvesting angora ethically is a slow labour process and beneficial for the animal. This process can result in a very precious fabric.
Some farmers keep Angora rabbits for the joy of it. They often spin yarn themselves as the rabbits naturally moult every 4 months. They help maintain the animals healthy and in return can make some extra money. Usually they sell the yarn or garments knitted with their own yarn. So yes, as long as angora is harvested ethically, you can find cruelty-free angora garments. PETA is a fan of this idea, too!
You can find such producers on independent platforms like Etsy or Depop. The sellers usually show credentials of their ethical business. These can be the size of their farm, the lifestyle of the bunnies and how much they can produce. A fair amount of products will tell you whether the angora is harvested ethically or not.
So, should you buy angora?
If you have time and are prepared to do your research, our answer is to go for it. As a fabric, angora can be sustainable but it is vital to check where it comes from. As long as the fabric is not mass-produced and ends up a cheap garment in the fast fashion industry, all is good. Check your local tiny farms if they produce angora yarn and how they do so!
Check the country the angora you are about to buy comes from. Different countries have different regulations when it comes to the welfare of animals. Finally, only buy from brands that care deeply about this subject! If you have any questions or are in doubt, find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.