Category Archives: Lifestyle

Fur Bye

Looking Towards A Fur-Free FutureImage Credit: Donnatella Versace

The high-end fashion world has always loved fur. Fur coats, fur hats, fur-lined boots – you name it, anything and everything that can be made out of fur, was. Long-acquainted with luxury and glamour, it is no wonder that mega-giant Versace is known for their iconic fur pieces. But no more! In the latest issue of the 1843 magazine, creative director Donatella Versace speaks out against the use of fur in future collections.

“Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right.”Image Credit: Versace

Versace has become the most recent high fashion house to drop fur, following quickly behind competitor Gucci who have joined the Fur Free Alliance, an international organisation working towards an end to animal exploitation. However, this is by no means a new development. The controversial use of fur within the fashion industry has been a long-standing debate for years. It has garnered more attention recently as consumers have become aware of the unethical production of fur pieces, as well as its unsustainability for the planet.

More than 100 million animals are slaughtered every year for their pelts, after living short, miserable lives in cages. Unlike other farmed animals, these are natural predators and have gone through very limited domestication, so being cramped inside tiny cages causes extreme stress-related problems. Many end up with missing limbs and other deformities from self-mutilation, and even turn to cannibalism when trying to exhibit their natural behaviors. Not only do they live agonising lives, but they are often killed inhumanely in order to preserve their pelts. Gassing, anal electrocution and sometimes being skinned alive, are not abnormal ways of death.

Image Credit: Google

Although more and more brands are dropping fur, one has to wonder why it took so long for it to happen. Calvin Klein took the plunge more than 20 years ago, with others like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren following suit a few years after. According to Nielsen’s statistical reports, it may be due to a change in consumer tastes. Millennials are driving brands to become increasingly ethical in their practices, and compared with previous generations, are more ethically conscious in their choices. The voices of Millennials cannot be ignored when they make up a sizeable portion of the fashion industry’s clientele.

Image Credit: Google 

So, the real question is, are designer brands becoming more ethically conscious, or is ethical fashion just becoming more ‘on trend’? Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Gucci, says, “Do you think using furs today is still modern? I don’t think it’s still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to do that. It’s a little bit out-dated…Fashion has always been about trends and emotions and anticipating the wishes and desires of consumers.” Could this be the reason so many other brands are jumping on the fur-free train?

Image Credit: Gucci 

Regardless the reason, this change is pointing towards a brighter, fur-free future with the potential to create higher standards for the fashion industry. Many never thought they would see the day when glamorous fur became obsolete so who’s to say leather isn’t next? Fur bye!

References:

https://www.furfreealliance.com/fur-farming

https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/with-more-fashion-brands-declaring-themselves-fur-free-what-s-next-for-the-fur-industry-1.693095

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/news-analysis/gucci-bans-fur-saying-its-not-modern

The Year of the Mushroom

Although not an official Chinese Zodiac symbol, it certainly seemed that 2017 was the year of the mushroom. Dominating the health and wellness industry, we saw trends from superfood mushroom coffee to psychoactive mushroom therapy. Now, thanks to companies like Mycoworks, not only can mushrooms be used as one of our fastest growing plant proteins, but can actually be farmed and harvested for sustainable, bio- degradable textiles. Could these little fun-guys be the key to the next boom in sustainable fashion?Image Credit: Pinterest

The bio-materials company, Mycoworks, was founded in 2013 by three founding members: Phillip Ross, Sophia Wang and Eddie Pavlu. The San Fransisco based start-up have come a long way from experimenting with building materials made from mycelium. Finding the building market difficult to crack; through the destruction of mycelium brick dreams, mushroom leather was born.Image Credit: Pinterest

Harnessing the power of one of the most abundant resources on Earth, Mycoworks have developed a technology that allows them to cultivate a leather-like textile from a type of fungi called Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi mushroom). It acts like an animal hide because it too, is organic. It is tough and durable, water resistant, breathable and out-performs synthetic leather, lamb and sheep skin. It is naturally anti-biotic, so this wondrous material is actually beneficial for our skin.

The mushrooms are cultivated using recycled agricultural waste such as saw dust and corn cobs. Within just two months, a full cow hide-sized mushroom hide is grown. The best part? Not only is mushroom leather organic, fast-growing, processed without toxic chemicals, carbon neutral and utilising waste from the agricultural industry, Mycoworks have pledged to lower the cost of the product to $5 per square metre by 2020. This will allow them to compete with all other leather on the market. Thanks to the commercial production of edible mushrooms, the same process can be used to grow mushroom leather. It is low-tech compared to the production of animal leather and not a single animal is slaughtered in the process.

According to a 2016 Mycoworks presentation, livestock alone consumes 50% of the USA’s water supply and around 10,000 pounds of feed. It is responsible for producing 18% of green house gasses annually and covers around 30% of the Earth’s surface. A single cow hide takes approximately 3 years to reach its full size. 70% of this is then discarded with the remaining 30% being sent to tanneries overseas, commonly in third-world countries.

Bangladesh and India are among those exploited for their cheap labour. Tanneries use toxic chemicals in the process; the run-off waste often being found in the streets, leaching into local water supplies, thus debunking the myth of any ‘ethical’ leather process.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Not only can this vegan material be produced ethically and sustainably; different textures, finishes and thicknesses can be engineered into the hide itself. Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined doing this with animal hides!

Although originally popular among alternative indie labels, we can expect to see more of this abundant textile on the runway in the coming years. As the eco-fashion movement continues to spread like wildfire, we are seeing an increasingly large number of iconic fashion houses going fur-free, with the likes of Gucci and Prada to name a few. Having some of the loudest and most powerful voices for change, designers are finally starting to accept their social responsibilities.

Image Credit: Pinterest

While activists continue their mission to educate the masses, the demand for a more ethical and cruelty free product soars. Fur is now seen by the majority as an insulting expression (symbol?) of gluttony in the world of fashion. Next up: leather.

A wise man once said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Right on, Ghandi. Systems cannot exist without belief; they are intangible constructs, influenced by the mainstream. One can find great liberation in the fact that we, the people, have more control over what the fashion industries produce – more than we realise.

Image Credit: Pinterest

So how can we find more designers utilising mushroom leather? Ask, and you shall receive; when the demand for mushroom leather snowballs, as will the supply. Just as we are encouraged to write to our local politicians regarding our concerns, we should be doing the same with our designers. Write to brands and designers expressing your disenchantment with animal products, stop buying fur, leather or any other unsustainable textile. Start the trend and spread the word! Support brands that are already harnessing this cutting edge technology.

Look out leather!

THE FUTURE IS PINEAPPLE… 

It all began in the 90’s (like most great things) when Dr. Carmen Hijosa took a business trip from her home country of Spain to the Philippines. Hijosa used to work for 15 years as an industry consultant for the design and manufacturing of (dun dun dun) leather products. After seeing the significant issues that accompany the leather industry- vegan and animal alike- Hijosa left the dark side and began exploring leather alternatives.

Hijosa, aware that PVC alternatives contain petroleum, knew that vegan leather was not the solution. Also aware of the environmental damages caused by the tanning process used on animal leathers she realized there was a niche to be filled and thus began her journey to create Piñatex.

Inspired by the Filipino national garb the barong tagalog, a woven formal dress made with pineapple threads, she began to consider how clothing can be made from other materials. She formed the company Anansas Anam Ltd. that patented a process that extracts pineapple fibres from leaves and turns them into a leather-like material now known as Piñatex.

Photo-by-David-Stewart-for-Wired-2-1600x2347
 Image credit: Piñatex:  Dr. Carmen Hijosa (above)

In it’s early days Ananas Anam Ldt. supplied brands such as Puma and Camper and made its way to car upholstery through Porsche, BMW, Mercedez Benz, and the always innovative, Tesla. Now Piñatex has hit runways and made a name for itself in the slow fashion movement. Pineapple leather was featured in the 2017 Milan fashion week by collection by Laura Strambi, among others throughout the fashion industry.

#MadeFromPiñatex Jacket by Laura Strambi    Fall/Winter 2017/18 Jacket - https://www.laurastrambiyoj.com/presentation-fall-wintwer-2017-2018Image credit: Olga Mai  (Milan Fashion Week 2017 Laura Strambi’s “Frozen Garden”)

Laura Strambi Fall 2017 - Milan Fashion Week. Clique e confira a coleção completa. Photo by @manuluizeImage credit: Olga Mai  (Milan Fashion Week 2017 Laura Strambi’s “Frozen Garden”)

Pineapple leather is cheaper than leather products for manufacturers to purchase because it’s derived entirely from a waste product adding no extra cost to farmers. Piñatex is created from the skins of leaves and discards only 30% waste. It’s difficult to call this waste however, as the biomass produced after creating the Piñatex fibres is later used as fertilizer or sold for profit and gives an extra source of income to the farmers.

pinatex1.jpgImage credit: Pinterest

There is no extra land, water, or chemicals being used in the production of Piñatex and the leaves being discarded by farmers would otherwise add to the estimated 40,000 tons of pineapple waste generated globally each year. As Hijosa states “… we are actually taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it, meaning that we’re giving it added value.” 

Related imageImage credit: Pinterest

As humans we should all care about the planet. Piñatex has a huge advantage over animal derived leathers as there are no harmful chemicals used in the process to make pineapple leather. Hijosa promises a ‘Cradle to Cradle’ philosophy which means that the entire process is natural and eco-friendly from beginning to finish.

Pineapple leather is biodegradable but has a non-biodegradable protective top layer for durability- Piñatex is currently working towards a natural alternative.The fabric is breathable and flexible, and can be printed on and stitched. It’s also available to purchase as a roll so as to avoid the waste caused by irregularly shaped leather hides.

Vegan1Image credit: Google Images  

It is true that Piñatex will never have the same feel as animal leather but it is not trying to copy this- it’s a unique product all on it’s own. Much like formica when it first came into being, it looked ugly but eventually became a product by itself with it’s own authentic look and feel- Hijosa anticipates the same outcome for Piñatex. She explains it’s not supposed to look like leather- it’s supposed to look like Piñatex. (4)

Dans la famille invention de génie, je demande la nouvelle alternative canon au cuir, 100 % végane à base de fibres d’ananas. De l’espagnol « piña » qui veut dire ananas, Piñatex® est le fruit (ha, ha) de longues années de recherche et séduit de plus en plus de créateurs mode, chaussures, horlogerie, et même design.
 Image credit: Pinterest
The durability of leather is hard to match though, and many people who use vegan leathers complain that the material lacks the same longevity of animal leather. However according to the ISO international standards for: seam rupture, tear & tensile, strength, light, color fastness, water spotting, flexing endurance, and abrasion resistance Piñatex passes every test.
El cuero a base de fibras de piña que revolucionará el mundo textil | VICE | Colombia
 Image credit: Pinterest 

Piñatex has style, versatility, durability, and will likely become a natural part of our lives. It’s not unlikely that pineapple leather will seep from the runways and luxury cars into our daily lives. In a few more years you may find yourself sitting in an airplane only to realize all the seats are made from pineapples.

Look out leather- the future is pineapple!

Written by: Abby Caroline Teeter

 

Sources:

  • https://erebusstyle.com/blogs/news/alexandra-groover-ancestral-aw16
  • https://www.thefashionatlas.com/atlas/photography/settimana-della-moda-laura-strambi-frozen-garden.php?h=1

Featured Image Credit: @scanart 

https://www.instagram.com/scanart/

https://www.instagram.com/scanart/

Biodegrade is great, but..

Edible is better

India is a majestic place full of a mysterious paradoxes, bindi bearing brides, pastel painted elephants, home of the samosa and now the most polluted place on the planet.

According to recent NASA satellite data India has now topped Chinas pollution levels for the first time in the 21st century.

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Photo: Manan Vastsyayana

Even though it is culturally common in India to eat with your hands, 120 billion pieces of disposable cutlery are thrown away every year. Worldwide, this becomes a figure at 16 times this magnitude. As plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants it has the potential to cause great harm to the environment in the form of air, water and land pollution.

Fed up with this major plastic waste stream, groundwater researcher, Narayana Peesapaty created an innovative edible cutlery company, Bakeys. The edible spoons are full vegan, preservative free, trans fat free and operate of principles of fair trade. Made of millet, rice and wheat they are free from genetically modified organisms (GMO). Their lack of water, moisture or fat allows them a shelf life of up to 3 years without the need for extra preservatives (whilst still remaining their crispness)With India’s favourite spices (ginger-cinnamon, ginger-garlic, cumin, celery, black pepper, mint-ginger, and carrot-beet) the spoons come in sweet, savoury and plain to suit every meal. They are not only environmentally friendly but ‘tasty, fun and highly nutritious’ says Peesapaty.

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Photo: Kickstarter Campaign

Whilst biodegrade products are seemingly a step towards a zero waste future, there benefits are many times negated.

Corn and sugar crops currently used for biodegradables require extreme heat and very specific conditions to properly degenerate. Whereas Bakeys Edible Cutlery don’t require specific conditions and if not eaten will break down within 3-4 days in any outside environment. In concord due to the large quantity(presence) of millets used, the spoon itself does not degrade within liquids and can withstand a hot bowl soup, your favourite butter chicken curry, ice cream or tea.

Peespaty develops his business in correlation with growing environmental problems. Debunking the “conventionally known fact that environmental safeguarding and social responsibility rarely integrate with sound business process”.

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Photo: Kickstarter Campaign

Peespatys decision to use millets as his primary product is not only due to their incredibly nutritious benefits but millets are known for flourishing in the worlds most arable land. Millets requiring far fewer nutrients and water for cultivation allows environmentally friendly farming on a massive scale. Peespaty cites, ‘of the energy it takes to produce 1 plastic utensil, we can produce 100 sorghum(millet) based spoons’, in comparisons to corn (biodegrade crop) they are able to make 50.

Peesapaty states “for Bakeys Foods, environmental and social amelioration is the business”.

As an attempt to raise funds for mass production Sarah Muir for Bakeys created a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Pledging a goal of $20 000 to compete with the prevalence of plastic. Plastic is widely used due its longevity and affordability. However Peespaty feels ‘with mass production he will be able to make his spoons just as cheap’. Peespaty believes that the ‘change is inevitable’ but before this change can ‘overtake and overwhelm us, we should be instruments of change’.

Since launching in Hyderbad India 2011, Bakeys have sold over 40,000 spoons yet Bakeys business ambitions reach far beyond the realm of spoons. With their plan to expand into a whole new line of table wear, including edible plates, cups, forks and chopsticks.

A collection completely waste free, nutritious and environmentally friendly!

Que the cutlery evolution!

Written by Bridget McDonnell