Remember touching those uber-luxurious soft sweaters and socks with a nice warm feel? Ever wondered how are they made? They are made using angora wool. Often criticized on the grounds of being unethical, angora wool has been controversial because of its manufacturing process. It is made of angora rabbit hair. Angora rabbits are reared in different parts of the world. Not be confused with mohair which is made using the hair of angora goats or cashmere using cashmere goats, angora is a known for its tenderness and fluffiness.
A fully grown angora rabbit
How Is Angora Wool Made?
Most angora wool is produced in China where angora rabbits are bred almost every 4 months. There are 4 breeds of Angora rabbits – the English breed is the most popular in the fashion fraternity and each rabbit can produce 2 to 2.5 kg of wool. The French breed can produce up to 3.5 to 4.5 kg of wool. Another breed that is very popular among fashion designers is the Satin breed, which can produce fabric up to 3 to 4.5 kg and is known for its silky smooth fibre. The largest breed is the Giant, which can produce up to 9 kg of wool.
Rabbits are primarily reared by plucking, which involves pulling of moulted fur (old strands). It is has been argued that plucking ensures that the fibre stays soft as the guard hair is not plucked. However, due to growing animal rights’ concerns, shearing is now being used to rear angora rabbits.
Angora rabbit baby
A model in Burberry
A model in Richard Nicoll
Angora in contemporary fashion
Known for its soft and luxurious feel, angora at one point used to be one of the most preferred winter fabrics for designers the world over. However, due to growing awareness, angora wool is now one of the most controversial products in modern fashion. Due to outcries by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), lately many revered luxury and retail houses have banned angora, and consumers have become aware of the issue. Labels such as French Connection, Zara, Mango, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and All Saints have banned angora from their manufacturing units.