Burberry's Peacock Trench
Were peacocks plucked alive to make fashion's coolest coat?
The price of the coat in American Dollars is 23,829.08
The Infamous Coat
Burberry's €22,000 trench worn famously by American Vogue's Anna Wintour.
Christopher Bailey (AKA Burberry)
The Chief Creative and chief executive officer of Burberry.
The label inside the coat.
But everything is not what it seems
A Daily Mail investigation revealed that the origin of the coat is not what Burberry would have had the world believe. Until late 2013, their website — where the coats are offered for sale — has said that the peacock feathers used to make the garment, came from birds raised on farms in India. It stated: '100 per cent farmed golden peacock feathers, India. When asked about the material, an online sales representative confirmed the origin of the feathers used for the coat.
All of which sounds very possible, since the natural habitat of this bird is the Indian grasslands. There is, however one problem: it is illegal to export peacock feathers from India.
Not only is it that country’s national bird, against the Hindu religion, but its numbers are also under serious pressure from becoming extinct due to poachers.
Rather than waiting for the peacocks to moult their tail feathers as they do naturally every year, the poachers kill them and rip out the feathers, which are then smuggled for sale abroad.
So, the news that Burberry claimed to source these feathers from India was met with astonishment by local animal rights campaigners and politicians.
Maneka Gandhi, a high-profile member of the Indian parliament, was so appalled she called for an investigation into Burberry.
This is because the process of taking feathers from carcasses before washing and drying them can affect their quality. The most valuable down was that hand-stripped from live birds.
Although the plucking process often leaves the birds with open flesh wounds, the feathers regrow in months. The birds could therefore be ‘live-plucked’ two or three times before being slaughtered for meat.
Other retailers admitted that they could not rule out the chance that their products contained live-plucked down, saying the supply chain was so complicated it was impossible to say with certainty where their feathers originated.
In this context, there are inevitable concerns about peacock farming in China, especially since the trade in birds there has boomed recently.
Farmers have boasted that farming peacocks is ‘easier than chicken and more profitable than pigs’. Peacocks are said to eat less than chickens, and are prized for their feathers and meat.
As a result, most Chinese provinces boast dozens of peacock farms, with some of the larger ones boasting flocks of up to 10,000 birds.
One peacock is typically kept with four or five peahens in a space as small as five square meters.
When the birds are about seven months old, they are packed into tiny bamboo cages and sent for slaughter. The feathers are collected from mature peacocks when they are shed, or when they’re slaughtered.