In response to calls from British fashion designers for the United Kingdom to ban the sale of natural fur, the Natural Fibers Alliance notes that plastic isn’t fashionable.
Following the lobbying efforts from a small group of activists, several British designers including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, and Erdem Moralioglu are asking British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban the sale of natural fiber in the UK. This would set the UK back in its efforts to improve environmental sustainability. Moreover, the move could be seen as a cynical attempt by businesses to use the government to harm their competition.
Synthetic clothing is one of the top global polluters of waterways. Researchers estimate that synthetic fabrics alone are responsible for up to 35% of microplastic pollution in our oceans; synthetic clothing “sheds” microparticles when cleaned. Natural fibers, in contrast, are a sustainable and renewable resource.
“Designers should know freedom of expression, freedom of choice, and sustainability are vital in fashion,” commented Mike Brown, head of sustainability and communications at the Natural Fibers Alliance. “Their advocacy in favor of plastic clothing is tacky and short-sighted.”
These designers should be careful what they wish for. The primary backers of a fur ban—a small group of fringe activist—want to ban the use of natural animal-derived fibers, including those used by the aforementioned anti-natural fiber designers. Stella McCartney uses wool; Vivienne Westwood uses leather; and Erdem uses silk.
A number of fashion industry leaders have spoken in favor of fur and sustainability. Yves Salomon says: “The biggest issue facing the planet today is plastic, which I think is far more important than the debate over fur.” Astrid Andersen remarks: “For me, fur is the most sustainable material you can work with.” Silvia Fendi adds: “Fur is durable—you don’t even need to wash it—and it’s totally biodegradable.”
The Natural Fibers Alliance is a newly formed environmental justice coalition that represents the interests of wool, leather, fur, and other naturally produced materials. For additional comment or questions, contact Nick Crawford at [email protected].