Sustainable fashion

‘This is Fur’ Exhibition Grows in Popularity in European Parliament

Jan 23 2020 - ‘This is Fur’ is an attraction in the European Parliament, where Fur Europe’s European lobby event takes place 21-23 January. More than 100 bilateral meetings had already taken place before the final day, Thursday, but it is the many spontaneous visits to the stand in the communication area of the Altiero Spinello building that surprises Fur Europe. “The stand is somehow visually attractive because we get lots of guests, who are just curious to see what’s going on. People are really sweet, and our messages are well received. Our members have been very busy this week, but we have a lot of fun with it,” said Fur Europe CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen. Spontaneous visits to the ‘This is Fur’ stand range from MEPs to other animal industries and –sectors, and once inside the attraction is the fur garment samples, all designed for longevity but with different strategies. “Fur samples were also popular on previous ‘This is Fur’ events. Natural fur does that to people. You just have to touch the material when you see it. This time we also brought a virtual reality experience from fur farms. This is popular too, especially the younger audience is keen to put on the virtual reality goggles.” The stand also offers two furriers working both on the remodelling of second-hand garments, and answering questions about the craft, material, repairment, personalisation and care. Fur Europe’s purpose with bringing its members to Brussels to meet their national MEPs and other stakeholders is to inform about the circular qualities of natural fur and promote the sustainability policies of the industry. According to Chairman of Fur Europe, John Papsø, this goal has already been achieved: “Our environmental attributes and advanced approach to animal welfare is an eye-opener to most people, so I think it is safe to say we will come back. Fur always comes back,” he says. The lobby event closes down Thursday 23 January at 4 p.m.

Sustainable fashion

Sustainable Fashion Debate During ‘This is Fur’ Sold Out

Jan 10 2020 - The opening remarks will be delivered by Fur Europe's CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen, when Brussels media Politico hosts a panel debate on sustainability in the fashion industry during the 'This is Fur' event 22 January. Politico's Spotlight “Achieving Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: what’s the way forward?” will take place inside the European Parliament: "Clothes contribute more to climate change than international flights and shipping combined, and the problem is getting worse. Falling prices and the rise of fast fashion have led to growing demand and a tendency to see clothing as disposable. As Europeans’ wardrobes are getting bigger, so is the sector’s environmental footprint," the event description reads. Among the subjects of the panel, the debate will look at potential legislative plans to reduce the fashion industry's environmental impact, current linear business models, how to get consumers to buy less, but better clothing, longevity and so on. Fur Europe is a partner of the event because of the subject's alignment with both values and policies in the fur sector: "Well, natural fur is the very symbol of slow fashion, and today's clear-cut consensus is that longer active clothing life is the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion. No garment compares to natural fur when it comes to longevity, and it is a huge environmental advantage when you can distribute a product's footprint over a long time. So Politico's debate hits a tune with us in the fur community. We always involve ourselves in the societal debates we have stakes in," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. The interest for the fashion debate has been very big, and there are no more seats available.

Sustainable fashion

Furriers Launch Online Platform to Quench Desire for Recycling

Nov 13 2019 - A new online platform in Spain helps consumers eager to recycle fur to find fur workshop easier and faster. Plataforma Ipeleteros has an integrated search engine, which allows identifying a fur workshop based on location and individual needs of the customer. After filling in a short questionnaire, the platform pinpoints the most suitable furrier to do the remodelling and puts the customer in touch. Javier Hernandez, a furrier and the founder of the platform, came up with the idea after realising that people often struggle to find the right kind of service. After the main workshop in Barcelona, furriers from Madrid, Barcelona, León and Valencia also joined the network, which so far attracted 500 new customers. Its popularity grew significantly recently, which Javier attributes to increased concerns about the environment. "It is impossible to open a newspaper or to listen to the news without hearing about climate change. Experts recommend recycling to avoid CO2 emissions and to give materials a second life. It is very important to encourage customers to reuse their clothes," Javier said. "This is exactly what we are doing - contributing to a circular economy by using the fur skins for longer." According to Javier, the slow fashion movement has prompted people to shift to more conscious consumerism by buying less and using for longer. "Clients don’t think about buying something new all the time; they much more prefer to take advantage of what they already have because it either has some sentimental value or because they invested money in it." Throughout his career, Javier has come across fur coats as old as 70 years. He says that even with a minimum lifespan of 30 years, fur clothes could easily be upcycled into contemporary models. Beyond the environmental aspect, the online platform also has another advantage. As it became more popular, it boosted employment for many small to medium-sized fur businesses across Spain. "Over the years, this little experiment has become a platform that generates work for many workshops," Javier said. He hopes that in future, the platform could expand further in Spain, but also in other European countries where consumers are interested in upcycling.

Sustainable fashion

Long active product life is an emerging trend in fashion

Nov 05 2019 - The debate over sustainability in fashion continues to snowball, and a new report issued by the European Commission provides a forward-looking business angle to the debate. The report offers a mapping of future business opportunities for SMEs within sustainable fashion. The authors recognise long product life as an “emerging trend”, and this idea – keeping clothes in use for as long as possible – also makes up the foundation of many of the report’s case studies, trends and business opportunities. “Longer active life is now considered the most effective way of improving sustainability“, the report concludes, echoing NGOs like Fashion Revolution, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Greenpeace, all stakeholders who for environmental reasons promote product longevity and a move away from today’s massive consumption of disposable fast fashion. At present longevity is the single largest opportunity to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing. Quite simply, if clothes have a longer active life, they can be replaced less frequently - reducing the volume discarded to landfills and meaning fewer resources are consumed in manufacturing. Until a few years ago it was generally unknown to the broader public that washing of textiles like nylon and polyester causes microplastic pollution. In the same way, the idea of extending the lifetime of clothing for sustainability reasons has grown with consumers in the past few years, much fuelled of course, by the increased societal focus on climate change in general, and the massive pollution of the fashion industry in particular. Today, 39% of consumers in the UK say the fashion industry should prioritise design for long active clothing life in order for fashion to become more sustainable, according to a new survey commissioned by the International Fur Federation. The long active life of fashion garments can be supported in different ways but is often most associated with price, quality, fit, emotional attachment, product warranties, remodelling, reuse and the availability of workshops where clothing can be repaired. When the EU points to emerging trends within sustainable fashion, which provides potential business opportunities for SMEs in Europe, the general focal point is also extended product use. Increased customisation, ‘fashion on-demand’ (as opposed to bulk manufacturing) and business models based on clothes sharing are the key trends identified by the EU Commission, while consumer-wise the report says there is a shift towards new value-led consumerism taking place, which is particularly evident in the younger generations. According to fashion researcher Else Skjold, Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, the shift in consumer attitudes is however, not reserved the young but represent a wider societal idea that first and foremost manifests itself in a showdown with fashion’s inherent narrative about the fashionable as something new. "At present, we are experiencing what I consider a weariness amongst consumers over a system that increasingly has flooded the market with poorly manufactured clothes. It’s apparent in dropping sales of high street fashion. It’s apparent from a decreasing number of exhibitors at fashion fairs because manufacturers are moving away from large collections to small ‘drops’ in order to avoid dead stocks. It also shows at fashion weeks as more and more designers let go of the traditional runway formats. Even within the established fashion press, we begin to see alternatives to the storytelling about ‘new’. This movement reflects the beginning of the end of the production system we know today," Else Skjold said. Regardless of emerging trends, however, there is still a long way to go for a fashion industry more or less caught up in traditional linear business models designed produce cheap, fast fashion - and lots of it. In spite of many sustainability initiatives within the fashion industry, any progress is suppressed by the ever-growing consumption. According to the industry’s own report ‘The Pulse of the Fashion Industry,’ the amount of clothing being purchased is expected to rise from 62 million today to 102 million tons in 2030. If fashion indeed faces the paradigm shift towards circular business models and value-led consumption suggested by NGOs and experts alike, the established fashion industry could benefit from looking at the way the natural fur is designed, consumed and handled, Else Skjold says. She points to the way natural fur throughout a time otherwise characterised by disposable fashion, have continued to be a product consumers took to furrier workshops for repairment and remodelling. In turn, the active life of natural fur garments is counted in decades rather than years, often with more than one user. "Natural fur is an example of both a circular economy and durable design. In the end, it is these things that matter in sustainability," she said.

Sustainable fashion

Eco-conscious London designer takes on fur

Sep 05 2019 - "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."

Sustainable fashion

Experts: ‘Green’ solution from the fashion industry is a marketing trick

May 20 2019 - The recent Copenhagen Fashion Summit has triggered a sharp response from a number of fashion researchers, who say the fashion industry is more concerned with the survival of the industry than the survival of the planet. It is problematic, the researchers say, that the fashion industry keeps promoting the idea of recirculation of textiles as the sustainable solution to the climate change problem. It is not a solution that accords with the findings of fashion researchers from across the globe. Rather, it is a marketing trick designed to legitimate today’s overproduction of cheap fashion garments, which itself is the real sustainability problem of the fashion industry. “The more the attention is directed to recycling, the longer [the fashion industry] can continue with what they make the most profit from, namely selling a lot of bad clothes," says Ingun Klepp, fashion researcher at Oslo Metropolitan University, to Danish think tank Monday Morning. The critical researchers have organised themselves in Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion with the purpose to create a paradigm change in fashion consumption where the focus is on fewer fashion items with better design and higher quality because such features will make consumers wear the garments for longer. Or in other words: a shift from fast fashion to slow fashion. This idea, however, contradicts almost all contemporary business models in a fashion industry that keeps increasing the number of annual fashion collections and pump out more and more products. Morten Lehman is Chief Sustainability Officer at Global Fashion Agenda, the organisation behind the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and he does not understand the criticism. He says to Monday Morning that while he shares the researchers’ concern over the speed with which recirculation of textiles is being introduced, there is massive sustainability progress in the industry. “Some years ago we made a commitment to the circular economy. Today, 12,5 per cent of the global market has signed off on having goals in this are area,” he says. According the fashion industry’s own report ‘Pulse of the fashion industry,’ the production growth is an expected to have increased by 80 per cent in 2030, and the report recognises the sustainability problem in fashion: “The fashion companies are not introducing sustainable solutions at a sufficient pace for them to make up for the negative environmental and social consequences of the rapid growth of the fashion industry,” the report reads. However, it is exactly the definition of “sustainable solutions” suggested by the industry in the ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports the researchers to dispute. "How can consumers buy in an environmentally friendly way? The ‘Pulse of the fashion industry’ reports the answer to this is recirculated materials, but it is not true. The largest impact on environment and climate is decided by the longevity of products, and consequently how often they must be replaced. There is no such thing as green garments. I think it is bad advice to move to more plastic in a world that’s starting to understand that we have to do something about the plastic problem. It is easy to suspect this is because it is easy to make money on synthetic clothing,” Ingun Klepp says.

Sustainable fashion

Hunters and furriers team up to make sustainable fashion

Feb 28 2019 - Design students from Viennese fashion school Sieben-Eichengasse have again competed in the Red Fox Austria Award competition last weekend and demonstrated how nature conservation and fashion design can go hand in hand towards sustainability. Besides the design student award, there is also an award for professional furriers. True to tradition winning designs were announced at the Hohe Jagd & Fischerei fair in Salzburg last weekend, an international event hosting more than 45.000 guests.Responsibility’. The Red Fox Austria Award was initiated in 2007, in order to demonstrate to the larger public what creative possibilities there are for the use of the Austrian red fox. Every year 50.000-60.000 red foxes are shot in Austria for conservation purposes. Some 8.000 foxes are pelted and utilised by national furriers – and some again are used in the annual Red Fox Award. “Fur is a natural, biodegradable material, and when you combine that with quality craftsmanship and interesting design, you have a product consumers care about and appreciate for a long time. We give value to waste, and the Red Fox Award works to make people aware of the sustainability qualities of fur,” says Otmar Sladky, President of the Austrian furriers’ guild says. Hunting is popular, but strictly regulated practice in Austria. Only licensed hunters are allowed to shoot foxes, yet the practice is supported by 75 per cent of the Austrians. Utilising the pelts for long-lasting garments adds an additional sustainability aspect to the fox hunting, and for the design students it is furthermore often their first opportunity to work with fur: “Fur is normally out of reach for students because it is too costly to experiment with, but here we have an otherwise unlikely group of hunters, furriers and students teaming up to create a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. It is very inspirational for everybody who is involved,” says Otmar Sladky. In addition to the national competition, the students are also given the opportunity to submit their creations for the international fashion design competition REMIX. Very appropriate to the Austrian award, the theme of this year’s REMIX competition was ‘Responsibility’.

Design, Sustainable fashion


Feb 25 2019 - The 2017 Fur Summer School student Berivan Cemal won the most prestigious REMIX award for young fashion and fur design. The creative interpretation of this year’s theme Responsibility granted Berivan the support of the jury chaired by the Deputy Director of Vogue Italy and Head of Vogue Talents Sara Maino at the award ceremony in Milan last night. "Remix is an opportunity for the next generation of designers to experiment with and at the same time to pay attention to sustainability and work for a better future,’’ said Sara Sozzani Maino. The 27-year-old designer from the Netherlands started working with fur a few years ago after collaborating with FurLab Amsterdam. Later Berivan then took part in Fur Europe’s Summer School to study the supply chain and explore how fur fits with slow fashion and sustainability. ‘’My Remix collection is an investigation into my own immigrant background and the deep personal responsibility I feel to translate my heritage for generations to come through my designs and use of fur,’ said Berivan while describing the idea behind her mink blankets and avant-garde garments. The added that for her responsibility in fashion is mainly linked to sustainable production and minimising environmental impact. ‘’Beyond the fact, the mink is treated very well in Holland, mink is one of the few animals which are used in many industries, not only fashion – bones and oils are used to the fullest helping create bioenergy and beauty products, which also means waste is minimised. Besides using the seal and mink, I am also incorporating recycled wool and plastic as a symbol to preserve fashion and reject plastic fast fashion.'' Besides the recognition as a world-class young designer, Berivan gets a weeklong stay at Kopenhagen Furs design studio where she gets a new challenge – to turn 25 premium quality Kopenhagen Fur Mink skins into the most innovative fur design possible. The Silver REMIX award went to Huseyin Ozer, from Turkey, for creations were inspired by the stained-glass window of the Hagia Sophia. Dong Wang from China won the Saga Furs award ensuring him one week of fur innovation workshop in Saga Furs Design Centre. ‘’We have a new socially and environmentally aware generation that is currently crafting the future, and we are very proud to have young designers from over 23 countries this year applying to take part in REMIX eager to demonstrate how natural fur can be responsible,’’ said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. This was the 16th edition of the international competition which the International Fur Federation (IFF) organises with the support of Vogue Talents. Alongside the Deputy Director of Vogue Italy and Head of Vogue Talents Sara Maino Sozzani, the jury gathered together Gabriele Colangelo, Creative Director of Giada, the Danish designer Astrid Andersen, the fashion blogger Bryanboy and the Sustainability expert Samantha De Reviziis. All the winners of REMIX 2019 will see their creations at the centre of in IFF’s upcoming fashion advertising campaign FUR NOW later this year.

Sustainable fashion

“That’s a completely insane idea, but a good one. Let’s give it a try”

Jan 30 2019 - A fur farm waste product becomes sustainable yarn for fashion. That seems to be the result of the ReUseFoxHair (RUFH) project, administered by Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland. The project started with the idea of utilising the hair foxes drop before growing their summer coat. The goal was to test if it would be possible to use loose hair into the production of abrasive tools and polishing pads which the wood and automobile industries use during the finalising painting processes. ‘’Everything started when we did a company visit at Mirka Ltd’s premises with our International Business students; we saw that they produced polish pads made from sheep’s wool. That was when I thought that Blue Fox hair surplus could also be used as a material for the polishing pad. I later called the company’s product developer, and he said the idea sounded utterly insane, but good’’, explains fur expert and Project Manager Pia Blomström. Between the company, Centria University and public funding from the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia an experiment was set up to test out the options on a mini mill. ‘’When we first went to visit the mini mill with our fox hair, we ended up spending the whole day there testing the fur with the spinning mill’s staff. A few artisans appeared during our visit, having heard that something unusual was happening, they were eager to try too,’’ Blomström says. During the test, however, the Blue Fox hair proved too short to be used as originally intended. Instead, the research group came up with a discovery: Combining the Blue Fox hair with longer fibres such as alpaca and wild silk gives enough strength and length to create a yarn that is usable. ‘’By trying different combinations, we ended coming up with an extremely beautiful yarn, which will probably become a new yarn to be used in the fashion industry. The yarn can both be knitted and woven, ‘’Blomström explains. The experiment took place last fall, and the new yarn has yet to be put in production, but it demonstrated how innovation could turn waste into something beautiful and at the same time contribute to a circular economy.