Explore Animal Fibers and Materials

They tend to have good insulation and thermo-regulating qualities as well as a high resistance to natural odors. They’re breathable, and this translates to keeping the wearer warm and dry. Animal fibers are also highly elastic, and therefore resistant to stretching, wrinkling, and tearing.

Wool

In volume terms, wool is the most important animal fiber used in the fashion and textile industry. It’s breathable, elastic, and resilient, and doesn’t need to be washed as often as other fibers do.

Down

Insulating, light, compressible and breathable, down is the layer of fine feathers found under tougher exterior feathers, usually obtained from ducks and geese.

Leather

Made from the hide or skin of animals, leather has a number of unique qualities which are highly valued, such as strength, longevity, and durability.

Other Animal Fibers

Mohair, cashmere, and alpaca all boast desirable qualities, making them popular options in clothing.

Animal fibers and materials in numbers

1.8m

Tonnes of animal fibers produced in 2021

1%

Wool’s share of the global fiber market in 2021

0.5%

Down’s share of the global fiber market in 2021

SOLUTIONS

We’re aiming to improve animal welfare across the board.

We’re working to help the fashion and textiles industry switch to materials that have less of an impact on people and the natural world. For animal fibers, this means pressing the industry to raise its standards in respect of animal welfare, while preserving the health of the land.

group of sheep in a field.
Materials Production Dashboard

Get the latest data

You can access our latest data on production volume for animal fibers in our Materials Production Dashboard.

two alpacas.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question not answered here, get in touch with us directly, and we’ll be happy to answer it for you.

What do the Responsible Animal Fiber standards include?

The Responsible Animal Fiber standards include requirements for animal welfare, land management and biodiversity, and social responsibility.

Are there different standard requirements for different regions and farm types?

The Responsible Animal Fiber standards are global standards and can be applied to any region or farm type. The desired outcome is given for each section of the standards, but farmers can achieve the requirements in ways that suit their farming context.

Do I have to be a member to participate in the Animal Fiber or Leather Round Tables?

The Animal Fiber and Leather Round Tables are open to all, but we ask that you review and agree to the Terms of Reference when you sign up.

Where can I find certified the Responsible Alpaca Standard (RAS) fiber?

Some groups in Peru have become certified to the RAS, but at this early stage in the rollout of the standard, all certified fiber is already committed to buyers who pre-registered an interest and/or provided support for groups to certify. There are more groups working towards certification for the next shearing season which starts in November, but we don’t yet have estimates of the volume of fiber that will be available.

Other material categories

Plants give us fibers like cotton, hemp, flax, jute, and more.

Synthetics are fibers made through chemical processes.

Manmade cellulosic fibers are commonly made from wood pulp.