An ethical & eco-friendly alternative to fur - does it exist?

In my first role as a Buyer in Denmark 17 years ago, I was sometimes tasked with sourcing coats made from real furs. At that time in Scandinavia it was quite mainstream for people to own a real fur and little thought was given to where the fur came from.

Whether it was due to the colder weather, a sense of ‘wearing fur is part of nature's lifecycle’ or something else is unclear. People's attitude towards fur was just different and in the 5 years I worked as a Buyer, I only remember seeing one (1!) letter from a customer worried about us selling real fur. In this particular incident it was in fact (a not very nice) 100% faux fur, but the customer wanted our reassurance of this as it resembled the fur of her alsatian dog...

Even today these attitudes pervade in Denmark and you will come across quite a few shops selling real fur and fashionistas wearing them.

It was only when I moved to London in 2005 and saw activists protesting outside Joseph, the fashion retailer, and heard stories about red paint being thrown at women who were clad in fur, that I truly started to think about whether it was ethical or not to wear real fur.

In London we have seen quite a big movement against real fur, primarily driven by PETA's campaigns (animals rights organisation) and Stella McCartney. These days, most of the coats/jackets we see on the streets are faux furs - and often the imitations are incredibly good.

Real or faux, fur adds that extra special touch of sass, glamour and style to an outfit. Whereas 20 years ago real fur was something you would wear if you were affluent, faux fur is something you would wear today if you are following the latest fashion trends and want to signal that you are fun, audacious and perhaps even rock'n'roll.

Personally, this autumn I have been going around in circles over a beautiful teal faux fur jacket in Topshop. So far, I have resisted the temptation to buy it by continuously reminding myself of the costs to the environment.

Because while shifting from real fur to faux fur is great news for animals, faux fur is bad news for the environment. Why is this? At present, faux furs are made of acrylic, polyester, polyamide or a blend of these fibres. All chemically made fibres derived from oil or acid and classified as some of the most polluting fibres according to MADE-BY.

At VILDNIS we made it a priority to source an eco-friendlier version of faux fur; we simply need a gorgeous fur coat in our wardrobe and real fur is out of the question.

In all honesty, it has proved to be a bit of a challenge! In fact, the closest we have come to a remotely eco-friendly true fur looking fabric is a fabric where the backing is made from recycled polyester and the pile from virgin polyester (=25% recycled polyester and 75% virgin polyester). Asked whether they could make this, otherwise amazingly soft and gorgeous, faux fur out of 100% recycled polyester, the fabric mill answered that at the moment the yarn to make the pile isn't available in a recycled polyester yarn.

Translated to plain English this means that it is indeed possible but due to lack of demand from large retailers such as Zara or H&M, they see no reason to develop and produce it. Insert sad smiley here!

The good news, however, is that we, in our search for an ethical & eco-friendly fur alternative, came across an eco-friendly version of the fabric of the moment: PLUSH.

Made from 100% organic cotton, the super soft plush fabric used for our Disko Bay Jacket (launching on Monday) has a deep lush pile and adds that extra touch of sass and warmth to this year's party outfits. Christmas has come early!

The plush is here to stay for many seasons to come and meanwhile we will continue our search for the perfect fur imitation. Watch this space.


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