Think you are being saintly in working with natural fibers ?
In fashion, sustainability is certainly the most pressing issue today. The conversation has just begun and it seems that all the players in the industry, from suppliers to fashion brands, have something to say about the subject, which is, most of the time, a great thing.
Most of the time only.
For instance designer Sofia Crociani, said recently she prefers to use silk or cashmere and refuses to use fake fur or leather because “they are plastics, which don't pass for me, even recycled."
Recycling is sustainable
While we fully respect a brand that does not want to use synthetics at all for ecological reasons, the relavance of such claims has to be questionned on several levels :
First of all, despite what Sofia suggests, using recycled plastics is sustainable. All fashion brands are promoting recycling and this is good, because it means that something is done with waste instead of having it sent to incinerators or left to landfills. When a new garment is created from recycled plastics, the need for new material is reduced. It has a positive impact on the environment.
PRADA, among so many others, recently announced the use of recycled nylon instead of virgin nylon for its iconic line of bags. This is not for nothing.
Recycled polyester (and even virgin polyester) will always be more sustainable than wool, fur, leather or cashemere, despite the fact that they are man-made materials. This is a fact.
Natural fibers are not all eco-friendly
In addition to that, natural materials might be idealised by some designers because they have a romantic vision of them, but the truth is way different, and much more balanced. They have great qualities but they do have a negative impact.
Promoting natural fibers over synthetics should not give the misleading impression that natural fibers are free of impact.
Cashemere is fueling natural disaster claimed an article from the Wall Street Journal recently.
Recycling is sustainable
The mass production of cashmere, once solely a luxury good, is fueling ecological destruction that has fashion labels searching for new sources of the fiber—or giving it up altogether.
Cotton is most prevalent fiber in the deepest sea revealed a study published last year on the website apparel Insider.
Pollution from cellulose fibres such as cotton and linen made up to 80% of all deep-sea microfibres found in new research.
Animal furs are loaded with petrochemicals that can enter the organism through the skin.
Scientific analysis of six fur fashion items purchased from high-street stores in China has revealed potentially dangerous concentrations of toxic chemicals, in one case 250 times above the levels permitted by law.
In this new and intense conversation about sustainability, the ethical nature of sustainable practices should be questionned and reviewed with honesty and transparency.
Faux fur is not perfect : no such claims have ever been made, but faux fur is indeed a life saving material. It saves animals and is fully recyclable with the capacity to become even more greener thanks to the growing use of recycled synthetics and new types of fur being implemented. From hemp fur, to bio-based and even in-vitro fur, the future of faux fur is bright, green and animal-free.
Meanwhile, let’s keep the discussion healthy and let’s avoid easy criticism and early conclusions.