"I have always been sceptical about working with fur, especially since I am from Great Britain, and there have been many scare campaigns growing up in the past."
The words of the young London-based designer Tesfa Joseph sum up a quite common perception about fur in the UK. Then he came across something unexpected which changed his mind: Eco-conscious Tesfa was introduced to a 100-years old fur coat in a vintage store in Denmark by his partner Tommy-Louis Julius Funch Kraglund.
"It came as a huge surprise to me because the fur coat looked as good as new, and only the design was telling the real age of the coat. I was astonished by what fur can do and how long it can last being passed from generation to generation."
An ambassador of sustainability, Tommy-Louis Julius Funch Kraglund is no stranger to the damaging impact the fashion industry causes to the environment. A knowledge he thinks it is worth sharing, especially with those working in fashion.
"If we want to pass on the world to our children in a better condition than we got it, we need to take action. To treat nature, the animals and the workers around the globe with respect."
Impressed by what he saw in the vintage shop and with many questions, Tesfa wanted answers – where does fur comes from; how does the supply chain work?
"I decided to see if it was true if the animals got treated nicely and how the production works. When the collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur started, I got more than a positive surprise from the industry. I began to feel it makes more sense to wear something from nature rather than something made of plastic by workers who are not treated well."
Keen to tell what he had seen, Tesfa made a bold move. As one of the 14 graduates selected to show their designs at Central Saint Martins’ press show for BA Womenswear, he wanted to present a fur collection.
"A few people were sceptical about me wanting to use fur at the beginning. They said it might affect my chances of getting into the press show if I decided to go that route." He adds:
"It was a euphoric moment seeing almost a years’ worth of hard work come to a climax on the runway. For both of us, we didn't expect the collection to be received so well; it was indeed a humbling experience.
Now teamed up, Tesfa and Tommy are launching their own fashion brand Burchi hoping they could help to bring about change in fashion production.
"Many other designers have great ideas, which is an important part of the design, but design and creation is not everything. The fashion we see today needs to reflect the tendencies of the times we live in, which is why our focus on transparency as a brand will make us stand out."