In early April 2021, the houses Balenciaga and Alexander Mcqueen confirm that they will no longer use animal fur for their future collections. So, while the list of major brands renouncing fur is growing, faux fur is also causing controversy. But what are the real differences between these two textile materials and which one to choose?
Animal fur and controversy
In the beginning of man, the purpose of fur was to keep warm and to resist to bad weather. This use is no longer. Today, fur serves a stylistic purpose. However, morals are evolving and its animal origin poses a problem. The issues of animal abuse, unregulated slaughter, unhealthy infrastructure and especially the physical and moral exploitation of workers are raised and revolting. Moreover, the fur is neither traced nor labeled: the fur can thus come from poached animals in extinction species and we cannot be sure of its origin, its quality and the products used for its production. In order to commit to the animal cause, some countries or states are taking initiatives and are now banning fur farms or its import and sale.
The positive points according to the fur industry: life span of up to 30 years and it is a natural biodegradable product. However, the question of sustainability is refuted by the use of certain additives and chemicals such as dyes that are far from being eco-responsible and sustainable.
Synthetic fur and environmental impact
As an alternative to animal fur, faux fur represented the perfect ethical solution. However, its production requires a shift from ethical to ecological. Because, even if it saves the breeding and slaughter of animals, the materials necessary for its production have a significant environmental impact. Indeed, mainly composed of polyester, it is therefore made from plastic products derived from oil.
However, some companies are doing well by developing synthetic fur that tends to be more environmentally friendly like Ecopel, a French manufacturer. The company innovates and gradually replaces fibers from petrochemicals by fibers of plant origin such as corn or hemp. Ecopel’s Koba faux fur targets luxury ready-to-wear brands and haute-couture houses: it has already conquered Stella McCartney who greatly supports the animal cause.
Differences that really make a difference?
The debate persists: while some defend a product of “natural” origin, biodegradable and more durable, others militate for a product of non-animal origin. However, both have a heavy environmental impact due to the loss of hair: one is composed of chemicals for its color and its preservation while the other is composed of plastics. Thus, in terms of durability, both can’t really make the grade. What makes all the difference is the protection of the animal cause, a sensitive and non-negligible subject. Fur is beginning to be banned politically and activists are becoming more and more numerous every day, putting forward vegan textile alternatives such as synthetic fur.
To conclude, new innovations are appearing and we could soon have access to a more responsible and sustainable material thanks to companies that invest in this direction like Ecopel. It is very possible that one day we will have in our wardrobe a beautiful faux fur coat made from eco-responsible and sustainable fibers with little or no environmental impact.