By Marianna Tugareva
Long, long ago, before the invention of the loom, wearing animal fur was pretty much the only way for a human in the northern hemisphere to survive cold winter weather. Unfortunately, very old habits die hard and fur is still seen as ‘ne plus ultra’ in luxury fashion. Some even use it in completely superfluous (and extremely impractical) ways, such as for handbags and shoes, or worse, for mere trinkets (yes, Fendi, we are referring to the ‘Karlito’ key fob).
While some may find Gucci’s ‘Chewbacca’ fur slippers appealing or may think nothing of plunking a shearling bag down on coffee-stained bistro table, an increasing number of luxury consumers are shunning fur when they realise its true moral and environmental cost. Understanding that hundreds of thousands of animals are killed (often brutally) to feed the vanity of a handful of people has turned more and more people away from this Stone Age habit. It’s time for something more progressive and fashion-forward – modern faux fur not only looks luxurious, but it feels lighter on the body and in the heart.
Here, we’ve found some fabulous faux fur designers who are dedicated to cruelty-free designs for winter.
There was actually a time when Donna Salyers dreamt of owning a fur coat, but couldn’t afford one. Instead she made one for herself from faux fur and was astonished by the amount of admiration it received. This experience, along with a realisation of the horrors faced by animals slaughtered for fur, inspired the American designer to launch “Fabulous Furs” over 26 years ago. Today, this pioneering vegan friendly brand creates a wide range of unique pieces in highly artistic faux fur textile. Ranging from petite to XXL sizes, Salyers guarantees no one will be left out in the cold.
Charly Calder smashes any doubt that fake fur could be just as glamorous looking as real fur. When not teaching pattern-making at prestigious Fashion Institute of Design in San Francisco, she hones her design skills to perfection, designing collections for eponymous line. Featuring dramatic cuts, bold colours, stunning silhouettes and extra-long lustrous pile, these coats were made for Boho babes and rock’n’roll queens.
Spanish art-lover Adolfo Dominguez is known as a sartorial prodigy who redefined luxury fashion in Spain, despite never having studied design. His love for natural materials stems from his youth, when he became involved with the green movement while studying cinematography in Paris and London. This highly acclaimed fashion designer’s collections are delightfully fur-free, charming with their elegance and sleek cuts. Now if only he would shun leather, too…!
4. Only Me
Given their extreme climate and historical love affair with fur, Russians have long been prejudiced against faux fur, ridiculing it as “fish fur,” translated as meaning it’s a colder and cheaper substitute for the real thing. The status quo in Russian fashion remained until a new vegan brand called Only Me introduced a truly fabulous faux fur collection, insulated with a heat-retaining, breathable material called Thinsulate, which provides more warmth than real fur does. The collection for harsh Russian winters became an instant hit and currently offers even trendier designs, as its key designer is the multi-talented actress Sati Kazanova, a striking brunette with an ethical view on fashion.
Rising fashion star Hannah Weiland tirelessly explores the playful side of ethical design. British and witty, she exposes the true nature of fake fur–rather than pretending it’s real, she infuses her designs with completely artificial colours, non-existent in animal world. Gently funky and somewhat goofy with these daring pieces, some of which tend to dwell on the border of Pop Art.
6. Spirit Hoods
This is the perfect brand for animal lovers. The LA based brand encourages you to channel your ‘spirit animal’, or the animal you seem to be most like, and wear their ‘fur’ to represent that. But in addition to saving actual animals by using stuffed-toy styled fake fur instead of real in their collections, Spirit Hoods also donates 10% of all profits towards animal conservation charities. No wonder PETA highly endorses the brand!
In her autumn/winter collection, Stella introduced gargantuan, shaggy “Fur Free Fur” coats, each prominently labelled with just that slogan. The vegetarian designer has long used vegan suede and leather in her collections, but had doubts about using faux fur: “I’d done fake fur many, many years ago, and I’d really questioned whether it was appropriate to do it and if it was necessary. Because fake fur now looks so real, I was afraid that I was promoting real fur, but I created these fur-free labels that will be on the outside of products so you can actually tell people it’s not.” Indeed, many animal lovers wonder if it is a good idea to wear ‘real’ looking fake fur for this very reason, but if animal advocate Stella McCartney thinks it’s cool, so do we–after all, animals are beautiful; it’s the killing of them that really isn’t, so why not imitate that beauty in a cruelty free way?
Ok, so this designer may not be trying to imitate fur per se, nor is she 100% vegan friendly as she uses wool instead of acrylic, but some may see this as an even more eco-friendly faux fur option. We love Van Blaaderen’s knits because they’re absolutely unique in the sense that they are often designed to suggest fur, be it the shagginess of a bison, the fluffiness of ostrich feathers or the shape of a traditional Russian fox fur hat. And with all this thickness, they’re no doubt just as warm as the real thing, too!
The eco-minded British designer made a splash when he sewed surplus parachutes into a wonderful fashion collection, and today, he still translates his desire to protect the planet into fashion that’s highly stylish and generally kinder to animals. For example, he’s created a line of faux fur jackets and sweaters that look a bit like chinchilla – but what we love most are the accessories, including a ‘furry’ rucksack, and charmingly, an old-school muff.
Dagmar’s ‘furs’ are made from ethical mohair, sourced using special shaving techniques that’s very gentle on the animal. The effect is fur-like, but fully sustainable and cruelty-free. Sold online at Orchard Mile, these super warm jackets, sweaters and scarves are a favourite with American fashionistas.