These eco friendly faux fur brands prove that when it comes to fake vs real fur, fake always wins!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
There’s long been a debate about real fur vs faux. Which is better for the environment?
Those in the ‘real’ camp say there’s no such thing as eco friendly faux fur. They claim that even though it’s cruel, at least animal fur is a renewable resource. They say that it bio-degrades faster than fake fur, and that faux fur is made from nasty acrylics and plastics that just end up in landfill. And that is often the case.
Those against fur, of course, state that at least faux fur doesn’t slaughter tens of millions of animals each year for mere fashion. They assert that animal fur and leather is treated with heavy dyes and chemicals including chromium and formaldehyde (both of which are highly toxic). These products pose many dangers to both the environment and those that work within it.
Those against fur also argue that the excrement from fur farms harm the environment. One million pounds of feces are produced annually by U.S. mink farms alone. One dangerous component of this waste is nearly 1,000 tons of phosphorus, which pollutes nearby rivers and streams.
Well, finally, the debate on real vs faux fur is over. And guess what? Faux fur definitely wins! Here’s why.
Eco Friendly Faux Furs Are On The Rise
Yes, faux fur is absolutely the more ecological choice – IF it’s made from sustainable materials. And increasingly, that is the case.
Take these eco friendly faux fur designers below, for example. They’re largely using recycled or all-natural materials to get that warm, furry effect – without the killing.
Their designs are especially popular with younger consumers. New data reveals millennials don’t want to purchase from companies that harm the planet. In fact, they consider sustainability a main issue in their lifestyles. This could be regarding what they eat, how they dress or what means of transportation they use.
Yvonne Taylor, senior manager of corporate projects at PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) UK, explained how today’s youth is more ethical than previous generations, and. “Items that were once a status symbol are fast becoming a badge of shame,” she said. And youngsters in their twenties are even more fervent when it comes to the topic of the environment and animal cruelty.
But you don’t need to be a teen to appreciate gorgeously sustainable fake fur. These eco friendly faux fur brands below are a mere taste of how fake can be more sustainable than the real thing. But given widespread rejection of fur by consumers and designers alike, we predict many more designers will be following in their footsteps soon.
Eco Friendly Faux Fur Brands We Love
The Italian designer Daniele Calcaterra works closely with manufacturer Ecopel, which is mentioned in more detail below. Ecopel has developed an eco friendly faux fur material made from recycled plastic bottles.
This regenerated fibre is introduced into a new cycle of circular economy production thanks to Calcaterra. And for those who cry out that recycled plastic used in clothing only creates microfibre pollution in the ocean when the garments are washed, consider this: winter coats rarely, if ever, get washed. And if you do, you can opt for a ‘green’ dry cleaner. Or, if you prefer to machine wash your coat, you can buy a filter that captures plastic microparticles.
There is no denying it – fur is cruel. 85% of the fur industry’s skins come from animals living in captivity in factory fur farms, as Stella McCartney well knows. The vegan designer prioritises the welfare of the animals above all.
That being said, the decision to include faux fur in her own designs has not been without much debate. Stella didn’t want to encourage people to use real fur by making a ‘fur look’ chic. Ultimately, she decided to put a ‘Fur-Free-Fur’ label on the outside of faux fur garments, just in case anyone has any doubt about what the coats are really made from.
Stella urges her customers to care for their items responsibly, washing rarely, and never throwing them away. Her faux fur can easily be upcycled into pillow cases, toys or even rugs, when they’re at the end of their lifecycle.
Like Calcaterra, Stella has also started working with Ecopel (more of which below), a company that makes faux fur from recycled plastic bottles.
Lifelong animal lover Tiziano Guardini has created a wide variety of plant-based furs since he began his fashion career. He experiments with a plethora of unique materials, including hemp, straw and even pine needles, to create different ‘furry’ effects. The results are quite remarkable! His latest collection uses frayed denim to create a kind of Afghan shearling effect.
Guardini is among the designers to recently lend their voice to the anti-fur movement, which has been growing steadily. Back in 2017, luxury powerhouse Gucci pledged to go fur-free, followed by Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo. And now Jean Paul Gaultier has been the latest (of many) big designers to renounce fur. Yoox, Selfridges and Net-a-Porter have also adopted a fur-free policy that bans all accessories, apparel and footwear made from fur. Guardini couldn’t be more pleased!
“Western countries do not need to use animal furs but some fashion houses continue to do so. I’m hoping that by creating a sustainable alternative such as denim fur we will be able to show people that fur alternatives are just as beautiful and aesthetically pleasing as the real thing,” he told The Independent.
Ukrainian designer Ksenia Schnaider cares about the environment and animals. She also really, really likes denim. So it kind of makes sense that her faux furs are made from recycled denim.
The brand started as a Ukrainian love story. It was founded by Ksenia Schnaider, a fashion designer, and her husband Anton Schnaider, a graphic designer in Kiev. The duo were so into each other, they not only wanted to spend every spare minute together, but wanted to work together, too. After thinking a bit about how to make that possible, they launched Ksenia Schnaider. And the rest is history.
Today, they experiment with denim, fraying it, shredding it and playing around until they find the right ‘furry’ texture. Their styles and techniques have been a huge hit with consumers and the media. They’ve been featured in loads of international magazines from Vogue and I.D to Eluxe!
5. Unreal Fur
This brand is so ethical, it’s, well…unreal! First of all, this Australian-based coat maker pays wages far above the living standard to all who make their garments. Secondly, they’re just as concerned about their environmental footprint as they are their social impact. They have consequently developed some eco-friendly faux fur fibres made from a blend of hemp and PET recycled water bottles.
Their fabric scraps are even recycled into new products, including pieces in their Mini-Me kids’ products and accessories. Unreal Fur’s fashion-forward designs have made the brand vastly popular with customers around the world. Today their coats are now sold at various global retailers, including Free People, Farfetch and Bloomingdale’s.
6. Maison Atia
Known as the ‘faux fur brand for cool girls‘, Maison Atia is co-headed by none other than designer Chloe Mandel, the wife of Smashing Pumpkin founder Billy Corgan.
The super-chic brand has started to use Koba, a soft, fluffy fabric that’s 100% made from plants and recycled water bottles. Recent collections have featured sustainable faux fur coats made with the stuff, that were also lined with soft, organic cotton. And in case you didn’t know, Koba consumes up to 30% less energy and produces up to 63% less greenhouse gas than conventional synthetics.
We’ve long loved this bang-on-trend brand. But when we discovered they’re now using cactus leather to make the most glamorous 70’s inspired, faux fur trimmed coats, well…that’s just whole other level stuff!
In case you didn’t know, cactus leather is 100% organic, grows abundantly, biodegrades, and has the feeling of fine leather.
And all you need to do to see how stylish it can be when paired with a bit of faux fur is look below!
London based Culthread is a producer of ethically made vegan coats. Its founder, Rina, says: “I founded Culthread because I searched in vain for the perfect coat – one that not only looked amazing, but fit just right, had inside and outside pockets, a hood, and was guaranteed free from all animal derived products. I loved the idea of having something different and special, without compromising on warmth and functionality. Culthread coats are either one off, unique pieces, or made in small limited editions.”
Today, the brand’s sustainable outerwear is all handmade from eco friendly fabrics like British waxed cotton, and luxurious faux furs made from recycled fabric. These jackets are guaranteed to be warm, thanks to their Thermore insulation. It’s eco-friendly, as it is comprised of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
This unique brand produces eco friendly faux fur from actual animal products. These are sustainably and gently sourced or upcycled wool or mohair, combined with cotton. They sew the animal fibers onto a cotton woven base to create a fabric that causes no harm to animals or the planet.
The result of the process is a material that may not technically be fully vegan, but it is cruelty free. It’s also soft, breathable, and biodegradable. Plus, wearing it feels a bit like snuggling up to your childhood teddy bear!
Ok, it’s not so much a brand as it is a manufacturer of eco friendly faux fur. But Ecopel is probably the biggest global producer of fake fur fabric that’s crafted from recycled plastic bottles. As mentioned above, it’s being used by quite a few eco-conscious faux fur designers.
Ecopel collects used post-consumer waste in order to transform it into soft, fluffy fabrics. These not only eliminate the need for new acrylics and polyesters, but also prevent plastic bottles from ending up in landfill.
Since getting the texture and sheen of real fur is pretty hard to do, Ecopel is still refining aspects of their product, such as colours and textures. But we have high hopes for this exciting new sustainable faux fur, as does Stella McCartney. Just check out her coat below, which uses Ecopel fur!
Main image: House of Fluff. Learn more about them here.