Harry Potter knitware firm ditches cashmere over animal cruelty

A knitwear firm famed for making the Hogwarts’ uniform in the Harry Potter films is abandoning cashmere – because of animal cruelty.

DEVON MURRAY as Seamus Finnegan, MATTHEW LEWIS as Neville Longbottom, OLIVER PHELPS as George Weasley, EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, JAMES PHELPS as Fred Weasley, RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley and CHRIS RANKIN as Percy Weasley in a scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Lochaven of Scotland created the Hogwarts school cardigans, jumpers and tank tops worn in the blockbuster movies by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

And while the garments featured for the last time in the epic finale, Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the company still provides them to Warner Bros, which sells them online.

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But now Lochaven, based in Stewarton in East Ayrshire, is looking to make a switch away from animal fibres to plant-based or synthetic wools.

Cashmere wool is a fibre obtained from special types of goats rather than wool from sheep and lambs.

The move came following discussions with animal rights campaigners PETA, which has long campaigned against the use of cashmere.

The firm has been cutting the amount it uses for a number of years and has now agreed with PETA that it was time to phase it out entirely.

Company director Keith Murray said: “PETA gets a bad rap, but they are decent enough people. They showed us their research and we have made a conscious decision that we won’t go back to using cashmere. We use British wool and it has to be the best quality possible, so it doesn’t make sense to use low-quality wool claiming to be cashmere any more. And if we can minimise the harm to animals, we will.”

Lochaven was set up by the Red Cross after the Second World War for the employment of disabled former servicemen. But it lost its charitable status and the loss of a major customer saw it enter receivership in 2007.

The firm had never marketed the products and, after a takeover that saw all jobs saved, Mr Murray proceeded to take them down that road.

Now Lochaven supplies garments to Warner Bros, which sells them via its website and in upmarket retailers.

The official Wizarding World theme park in Orlando began stocking Harry Potter knitwear in 2011 and dressing its staff in their outfits.

And the Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden studios in London followed in 2012, as did Diagon Alley Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, Japan.

Elisa Allen, director of PETA, said: “Gentle goats’ hair is torn out and the animals are hit with hammers and hacked to death, all for cashmere sweaters and scarves. Lochaven International of Scotland has just stood up to cruelty to animals in a huge way.”