LONDON — While Public School designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow were inside Somerset House winning the inaugural 2014-15 Men’s International Woolmark Prize on Friday, outside the venue three vegan male models had staged a protest against the award and the methods used in the production of wool, on behalf of PETA.
With one protester holding a convincing replica of a bloodied lamb, the trio wore blindfolds and synthetic sweaters, and carried signs saying, “Don’t pull the wool over your eyes” and “Sheep Suffer; Ditch wool.”
The protest follows a PETA investigation into the wool industry in Australia — which the animal rights organization said is the source of 90 per cent of the world’s merino wool — and the U.S.. PETA claimed its research found that workers in those countries’ wool industries “violently punched scared sheep in the face, stamped and stood on the animals’ heads and necks and beat and jabbed them in the face with electric clippers and a hammer.” It also pointed to cruelty in the British wool industry, where it alleged lambs are subject to “painful mutilations.”
“PETA is calling on all kind people to leave wool on the rack and instead opt for technologically advanced and cruelty-free options such as rayon, woven metal and soya silk,” said PETA director Mimi Bekhechi.
Woolmark said in an email that “the footage released by PETA is not representative of shearing in Australia” and a fact sheet provided by Australian Wool Innovation, which owns the Woolmark trademark, noted, “farmers are committed to making sure their animals are healthy. They do this by regularly checking on their animals to ensure they have sufficient food and water, are safe and healthy, and protected from pests and disease.
“To ensure animals are cared for in line with community expectations, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the industry work very closely with credible animal welfare organizations such as RSPCA Australia and the Australian Veterinary Association.”