Sheep wool is the most common animal fiber used in the fashion and textile industry.

sheep walking through a pasture.

About

In volume terms, sheep wool is the most common animal fiber used in the fashion and textile industry. It’s natural, breathable, and resilient, and has good insulation and thermo-regulating properties. It reacts to changes in body temperature to keep the wearer warmer when it is cold and cooler when it is warm. Wool is also odor- and wrinkle-resistant, which means that woolen clothing doesn’t need to be washed as often as other fiber types do, saving water and energy.

Challenges

Mismanagement and mishandling of animals is a risk.

The key challenges associated with sourcing wool are animal welfare and environmental impact. Mismanagement and mishandling of animals is a risk—for instance, when sheep are sheared to remove their fiber. Sheep are also subject to mulesing—the removal or destruction of wool-bearing skin. This makes sheep vulnerable to painful and sometimes fatal diseases. Being ruminants, sheep also produce the potent greenhouse gas methane as part of their digestive process.

sheep grazing in front of mountains.
Solutions

Regenerative land management systems can benefit sheep and people.

We’re supporting the fashion and textiles industry in switching to materials that have better environmental and social outcomes than their conventional alternatives. We believe that through regenerative land management systems, the climate impact of wool can be reduced, and these farming systems can improve biodiversity, water, and soil health while respecting the welfare of animals and people.

sheep grazing in a pasture.
Resources

Dive deeper into wool production

Get Involved

Take the next steps in your sourcing journey

Sign up for our Animal Fibers Round Table

Lead the conversation on how sustainability looks for wool, mohair, cashmere, alpaca, and more.

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RWS

Our industry standard for wool

The RWS is a voluntary global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. The standard ensures transparency and traceability along the supply chain and requires certification at every stage.

fields in front of mountains.
MATERIALS PRODUCTION DASHBOARD

Get the latest data

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

sheep on a hill.
man and dog in field.
Supplier Spotlight

Shaniko Wool Company was the first ranch in the world certified to the Responsible Wool Standard. Now, it is working to document the beneficial climate impacts of its ranching practices.

Find the answers to common questions about wool

If you have a question, get in touch with us directly, and we’ll be happy to answer it for you.

Other Animal Fibers and Materials

Leather

Leather is made from the hide or skin of animals.

Down

Down is an insulating material with a high warmth-to-weight ratio.

Other Animal Fibers

Other animal fibers used in the fashion and textile industry include mohair, cashmere, and alpaca.