How Harmful is Wool? My Research While Considering Buying a New Suit

I'm about to graduate from university and start looking for more career-oriented jobs. While a suit is not a necessary thing to have for my field, I figured it would be a good investment nonetheless. 

However, as a vegan, I knew I would have difficulty buying a new, good quality suit that wasn't made from wool. I decided to give it a try, though.

Buy low or buy high?

There are two main ways of looking at a reasonably large clothing expense.

The first is to maximize quality with the understanding that the item will last a while. That's perfectly reasonable, but it requires a large amount of money up front. For example, I could have got a custom suit made using a synthetic fabric, but that would have cost quite a bit of money as well as time and energy finding a tailor or MTM company willing to source and work with synthetic fabric.

The second approach is to lean a bit more frugal. You will likely get a slightly worse quality suit, but you won't need a large sum of money and there's always the option of getting another one down the road in case your sizing changes, etc.

Being an unemployed student, I decided to go frugal.

The frugal options:

Topman was one of the companies that I knew made suits with synthetic, wool-like fabrics. Other companies have cotton or linen options, but those would likely not have been ideal for a formal job interview (cotton and linen are great materials for summer events, though).

They had some suits in the $300 USD range, and they seemed pretty good.

I decided to do some quick math that attempts to examine how much suffering and death buying a new suit costs, and how it compares to buying alternatives.

The basic numbers:

  • It takes around 2kg of wool to create one suit

  • One sheep will produce about 28kg of wool over their six year lifetime, being sheared once per year until being removed from the flock (aka, slaughtered because their productivity declined).

  • Thus, one sheep will make enough wool for around 14 suits, and one suit probably contributes to a bit less than one shearing "session". 

Conclusion

I ended up buying a suit made with 100% synthetic fibres. I'm not entirely sure how long it will last, though. With the above numbers in mind, it's safe to say that a 100% wool suit does contribute to some level of suffering and harm to sheep. However, it's not as bad as I initially thought. The quality and value of a fairly inexpensive wool suit might be justified if the money saved is donated to an effective animal charity. 

However, most people are not the in the position of needing good, long-lasting suits. Unless you are in a professional business environment, then I think one of Topman's synthetic options are a good buy.