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!

 

Written by: Tiffany Ko

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.