Does faux fur live up to the sustainable hype?

Words by Hannah Cole

Illustration by Twylamae

While no animals were harmed in the making of your faux fur coat, it’s not completely faultless.

Fur is a hot topic at the moment. Gucci and Michael Kors have scrapped it from future collections and online retailers are pulling the plug. Authentic fur wearers are heckled and harassed while faux lovers embrace the comfort of cruelty-free clothing. But for those of us looking to make sustainable, ethical fashion choices, how does faux fur weigh up?

While no animals were harmed in the making of your faux fur coat, it’s not completely faultless. For starters, faux fur is made from synthetic fibres including polyester and acrylic (read: enemies of the planet). They’re non-biodegradable and involve highly toxic chemical processes, harming both humans and the environment. Sustainable? Not quite.

There’s a vast difference between fast fashion options and burgeoning faux fur labels. Those ASOS coats and trims aren’t made to last and use the poorest quality imitation fur. That $100 coat will inevitably end up in landfill next season, unfit for resale or future wear. 

But there’s a new crowd of faux fur labels working to create more affordable, high-quality pieces designed to last. The fabric production isn’t entirely perfect, but these brands are trying to create thoughtful collections in other ways. A label with integrity is priceless in our modern shopping climate.

Take House of Fluff. The lauded NYC newcomer label uses natural dyes, avoiding damaging chemicals. Plastic hangers, swing tags and packing materials are all recycled in an effort to reduce their impact. Leftover scraps of faux fur are even collected to create signature “scrappies” – the faces popping up on hoods and sweatshirts all over their Instagram feed.

Maison Atia, another NYC-based label, takes ‘cruelty-free’ faux fur to the next level. The mantra, “Buy a coat, save a puppy”, provides a homeless puppy (or kitten) with transportation to a no-kill shelter for every coat sold.

And why just buy a coat when you can have all the faux fur things? Emma Brewin is the creator of handmade faux fur hats, earrings, scarves and more. As a purveyor of slow fashion and artisanal crafts, the label builds pieces that last a lifetime and defy the throwaway culture in society today. It’s about making things too good, too precious to throw away; the pieces you want to hold onto forever.

Don’t dismiss faux fur from your eco-friendly wardrobe dreams just yet, though. BioFur may be the next big development to hit the market. Much like the vegan cultured leather seeping into collections, this fibre makes the purchase of faux fur more appealing and justifiable. Say goodbye to polyester, hello to lab-grown pelts.

Ultimately, faux fur isn’t perfect, but what is? If you’re on the hunt for the ideal coat, make the purchase that lasts. Choose quality over cheapness, buy from a reputable maker and keep it out of landfill. Hand that luxurious coat down for generations and let’s do the environment a favour.

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