Natural fur is an integral part of the fashion industry. It has been around for decades and is termed a valuable piece of clothing. Fur fabric is produced by animals with long hair.
Coats, capes, and other fur accessories used fur from mink, sable, chinchilla, and other animals. By the 1960s, fur was accessible to the common consumer and had risen in demand.
But, with the rising evidence of the harms of the genuine fur industry, consumers and brands have taken a step back. Countries and brands are now against cruel, environmentally toxic processes of producing real fur.
An answer to the harm of the genuine fur industry is vegan fur. It is a synthetic alternative that is animal cruelty-free. Vegan fur can also be sustainable and biodegradable on the basis of the raw materials used.
What Is Vegan Fur Made Out Of?
Vegan fur can either be made of plastic and synthetic fibers or organic, bio-based, natural fibers. Brands are now steering away from the use of animal-based fur. This led to vegan fur climbing up the ladder of popularity.
Plastic Based Faux Fur
Plastic-based vegan fur is also called faux fur. This uses acrylics, modacrylics, to form the plastic fibers which aim to mimic the look and feel of natural fur. This faux fur is then woven or knitted onto a fabric.
The types of fabric used for backing the fur may include cotton, rayon, silicones, resins, wool, camlet, and silk, to name a few. These are a mixture of semi-synthetic and animal-based fabrics. Synthetic dyes are used to color the final product in the manufacturing process.
This type of vegan fur may include the addition of animal-based ingredients. It is not 100% free from animal products. Hence, it is called faux fur.
Biodegradable Vegan Fur
Organic or biodegradable vegan fur is a prototype that the fashion industry is working on. This includes using natural, biodegradable products to create vegan fur. The process is sustainable and free from animal cruelty.
This type of biodegradable vegan fur may include plant-based materials to create the fibers. The fibers can be woven onto an organic backing fabric, such as lyocell, bamboo fabric, hemp fabric, modal, linen, or any other vegan fabric.
Lyocell is a vegan alternative to silk derived from the eucalyptus tree. Organic bamboo and bamboo linen, hemp fabric, and linen are plant-derived fibers. Modal is a type of fabric that is derived from drought-resistant beech trees.
The fashion industry has not yet introduced vegan fur that is 100% biodegradable. But, there have been steps taken towards this final goal. Manufacturers are experimenting with vegan fabric.
Designers such as Stella McCartney are at the forefront of introducing vegan fur. The brand currently works with KOBA®, a fur-free fur. This material uses recycled polyester and Sorona® plant-based fibers.
Organic vegan fur is partially or fully biodegradable on the basis of raw materials and the manufacturing process. Plastic-based vegan fur is not biodegradable and contributes to the growing issue of plastic pollution.
Is Faux Fur Vegan?
It may come as a surprise but faux fur is not always vegan. Brands market faux fur as vegan fur, using the terms synonymously. But to be 100% vegan, faux fur must include no animal-derived products such as wool or animal glycerin.
Faux fur is typically made from plastic and the plastic in faux fur is often lined with animal-derived products such as animal fats, and glycerin. These confer different properties such as stiffness, and pliability to the plastic material.
Animal-derived ingredients can be also used in the manufacturing process of faux fur. The plastic fibers of the faux fur are knitted or woven into a fabric material. The material of choice is usually wool, silk, camlet, rayon, or cotton. Wool, silk, and camlet are animal-derived.
Only when the manufacturing process of faux fur is 100% animal-free, can it be considered vegan fur. To be sure you are buying vegan faux fur, prefer products with a certified vegan label.
Is Vegan Fur Sustainable?
Vegan fur is more sustainable than animal fur. The sustainability of vegan fur depends on the raw materials used. If vegan fur is made of plant-based or organic materials, it is biodegradable and hence, sustainable. If vegan fur contains plastic or synthetic material, it is partially biodegradable, and hence not sustainable.
Sustainability depends on the waste and the energy utilized in the manufacturing process. The process of producing plastic-based faux or vegan fur is an energy-intensive process. In some cases, the energy used may be more than that of natural fur.
Some types of organic vegan fur are sustainable in terms of manufacturing and lifecycle. 100% biodegradable vegan fur is not mass-produced or available to consumers yet. But there are some innovative prototypes being tried and tested.
For instance, a design company called DevoHome in Ukraine is creating biodegradable vegan fur made from hemp. The fabric is woven using hemp fibers and viscose with a cotton base. This makes it animal and plastic-free.
The cotton is also grown organically without pesticides and herbicides. The manufacturing process is also worker- and animal-friendly. Manufacturing synthetic fibers cause harm and allergies to workers, which is not seen with hemp fibers. This eco-friendly material is also 100% biodegradable.
Hence, the sustainability of vegan fur depends on its manufacturing process and the raw materials used. When fur contains plastic or synthetic material and is labeled vegan or faux fur, it is not 100% biodegradable or sustainable. When vegan fur is completely organic, or plant-based, it is sustainable.
Which Brands Produce Vegan Fur?
In recent years, fashion brands are choosing fur-free alternatives. Luxury brands are excluding fur from their future collections. They are also looking toward vegan fur. Citing ethical and eco-friendly reasons, some brands that produce vegan fur include,
As a PETA-certified brand, Unreal Fur uses recyclable and sustainable fibers such as hemp. From coats to puffer jackets, it also recycles old scraps of fabric. Currently, the brand uses faux fur and is looking to incorporate biodegradable vegan material in the coming years.
Stella McCartney has an ethical history of never using real fur in any clothing or collections. The brand uses KOBA®, fur-free fur made from recycled material, and Sorona® plant-based fibers. It is animal-free fur that is recyclable and eco-friendly.
Stella McCarney uses no animal fur or leather but keep in mind that it is a vegetarian, not a vegan brand. This means some of its products may still include wool.
House Of Fluff
House Of Fluff is a brand based out of New York. It combines biodegradable cactus leather with recycled faux fur fabrics.
The brand also launched a BIOFUR collection. The collection included recycled faux fur along with 100% biodegradable plant-based materials. The non-degradable part is the recycled polyester that holds the plant-based fibers together.
The brand aims to create a completely biodegradable alternative in the years to come.
Jakke is a faux fur fashion label created in 2015, the brand offers vegan faux fur jackets. The collection was free from fur. It has now also extended to be free from wool and is striving to incorporate more organic material.
Also recognized by PETA, Jakke has a wide range of fur coats in a variety of plain and printed styles.
Fabulous Furs by Donna Salyers offers consumers a 100% vegan, cruelty-free range of faux fur. The faux fur apparel includes animal-free coats, jackets, ponchos, capelets, and shrugs. The brand started out about 30 years ago with the belief that cruelty-free fashion can be achieved.
Leading an ethical and sustainable lifestyle is a motto that both consumers and brands have opted for. Contributing to these are fashion brands that are straying away from the harms of animal-based fabrics.
As consumers, it is essential to think of the lifecycle of a product while making a purchase. Every purchase made towards an ethical, eco-friendly product is a step closer to a sustainable lifestyle. Hence, opting for vegan fur rather than animal fur is a decision where cruelty-free and sustainability go hand in hand.
Brands utilize a wide range of marketing tactics to persuade the customer to make a purchase. This may include marketing faux fur as vegan fur, even when animal-based products are included.
See also: Vegan Leather Alternatives
Main Image: courtesy of Unreal Fur