MANILA, Philippines - Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo will immediately phase out its purchase of wool from Australian suppliers who mutilate sheep in a practice called "mulesing," according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia.
In a statement, PETA Asia said they have received written confirmation from Uniqlo that it has committed to stop buying merino wool from certain Australian suppliers who continue to practice "mulesing" of sheep.
PETA Asia quoted Uniqlo group Senior Vice President Yukihiro Nitta as saying: "We are aware of concerns raised over the practice of mulesing sheep, and because of our commitment to animal welfare and health, we have directed our merino wool suppliers to phase out sourcing wool from farms that practice mulesing."
PETA describes "mulesing" as a procedure where "Australian farmers cut large chunks of skin and flesh from lambs' backsides with instruments resembling gardening shears, often without any painkiller."
This comes weeks after a handful of PETA members disrupted the press conference of Uniqlo founder and Fast Retailing Co. chairman, president and CEO Tadashi Yanai for the opening of the first Uniqlo store at the SM Mall of Asia.
"Uniqlo has made the smart business decision to listen to its customers and stop supporting the barbaric mutilation of Australian sheep. The worldwide revolt against wool from mulesed sheep is in full swing, and the Australian wool industry would be wise to sit up and take notice," PETA's Jason Baker said.
Aside from Uniqlo, other major companies that have pledged to phase out the use of wool from mulesed sheep include Topshop, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch and Timberland.