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The Wool Industry Gets Bloodied

Pressured by PETA, companies from Timberland to H&M are banning Australian wool
Hard times down under: Australia's wool industry was already reeling from a drought
Hard times down under: Australia's wool industry was already reeling from a drought Jack Atley/Bloomberg News

It's an unlikely international cause célèbre: sheep's rear ends. But because of activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it's an issue that threatens to undermine Australia's $2.2 billion wool industry.

Forget fur and leather—PETA's latest target is wool. Australian merino wool, to be exact. The animal rights group is on a quest to get clothing companies to quit using wool from so-called mulesed merino sheep. So far, more than 30 have signed on to the ban, including Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Timberland (TBL), H&M, and Hugo Boss. On June 4, German sportswear giant Adidas became the latest global brand to add its name to the list. "Approaching companies with big names and deep pockets is the best way to drive change," says PETA official Matt Prescott.