PETA Just Bought Stock in Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters and More to Push Wool Bans

The animal rights organization took advantage of the recent stock market downturn to influence decisions at nearly a dozen fashion companies.
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Looks from Ralph Lauren's Spring 2019 collection.

Looks from Ralph Lauren's Spring 2019 collection.

Thanks to the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, stock prices are at an all-time low for many companies. This is not great news unless you're PETA, and have developed a strategy of buying up stock at major fashion companies in order to push your anti-animal product agenda at board meetings.

Last Wednesday, PETA purchased stocks at nearly a dozen fashion and apparel companies in the hopes of pushing those brands to ban wool, mohair and cashmere, specifically. As we reported last year, the organization is focusing on these materials after seeing success from its efforts to push brands to ban fur and exotic skins.

The names in this round of purchases include some of the biggest apparel companies in the country, as well as a few abroad: Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters, Guess, Burberry, Chico's, Express, J. Jill, Deckers Outdoor Corporation (parent company of UGG); Tapestry, Inc. (parent company of Coach NY, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman), Aritzia, Lands' End, Capri Holdings (parent company of Michael Kors and Versace), Target, Under Armour, Kering SA (parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent and others) and Qurate Retail Group (parent company of QVC/Home Shopping Network).

"Today's kind consumers want to support companies that share their values and sell chic and comfortable vegan sweaters and coats only," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a statement. "PETA is heading to the boardroom to pressure retailers from Ralph Lauren to Urban Outfitters not to sell items that animals suffered and died for."

The organization has released 13 exposés to date depicting how harmful the shearing process can be to sheep and goats, despite brands' efforts to source from ethical suppliers. Of course, the debate over whether brands should eliminate wool altogether or simply be more vigilant about ethical sourcing is a nuanced one. For instance, many argue in favor of wool's remarkably low environmental footprint, especially when compared with synthetic alternatives. PETA, however, argues that in addition to the animal cruelty factor, wool production can be harmful to the environment. A rep for the organization points out that in many cases goats must consume massive amounts of grass or feed, creating soil degradation or using up land that could otherwise be used to grow crops to feed humans.

This is not the first time PETA has enacted this particular strategy. It has purchased shares in a number of companies in recent years — usually the minimum number necessary to attend annual meetings — including Hermès, Prada and LVMH. PETA says it's "won major concessions on behalf of animals" by using doing this, including inspiring Elon Musk to announce vegan leather Tesla car interiors and getting Gap to pull angora items from its shelves.

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