Fine, silky and exceptionally soft to the touch, the wool of the Angora rabbit is used in high quality knitwear
The angora is a variety of the Old World domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with a special characteristic: the active phase of hair growth is double that of normal rabbits. The angora is intensively farmed in hutches, often in semi-darkness, and its hair is removed usually every three months. An adult angora produces up to 1.5 kg of fibre per year.
The silky white hair of the angora is a hollow fibre classed as wool. With a diameter of 14-16 microns, it is one of the silkest animal fibres. Angora wool is very soft to the touch, thanks to the low relief of its cuticle scales. The hairs are light, absorb water well and are easily dyed. Premium wool is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit.
CNR-ISMAC, Biella, Italy
Until the 1960s, France was the leading producer of angora wool. Since then it has been overtaken by China, where angora farms count more than 50 million rabbits. Other angora producers are Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic and Hungary.
Production and trade
Annual production of angora is estimated at 2 500 to 3 000 tonnes a year, with about 90% of the the supply produced in China. Although China currently exports about half of its production to processors in Europe, Japan and the Republic of Korea, it is also developing a domestic processing industry.
Uses of angora
Light but warm, angora wool is used mainly in knitted clothes, such as pullovers, scarves, socks and gloves, producing a moderate "fluffing" effect.
Angora fabric is ideal for thermal clothing and for people suffering from arthritis and wool allergies.
Garments made of 100% angora wool are considered too warm and the fibres are too fine to provide density. It is therefore usually blended with other fibres, such as wool (right) to improve its processing performance, elasticity and wearability. French angora products usually contain up to 20% sheep's wool.