Basking in the runway spotlight at a Tokyo fashion
show recently, next to the €32,000 Russian sable
coat is a cape of lowly polyester sewn with chinchilla
that's being billed as 'ecological fur'.
The cape, bolero and other items by Japanese designer
Chie Imai use real chinchilla and mink from fur
farms. The fabric parts of the items use recycled polyester.
The recycled polyester is supplied from Japanese plastic
and pharmaceutical maker Teijin Ltd.
"We have not compromised quality and tying ecology with
fur is such a fascinating concept" - Imai told The Associated
'Ecological fur' sometimes refers to fake fur, but
Imai uses real fur. Her so-called ecological designs use polyester
strips and fabric with genuine fur. A bolero, for instance,
has real fur trim, but the fabric parts and the lining are
all recycled polyester.
Imai is the latest fur designer to use synthetic materials
with fur - despite complaints from animal rights activists
that the term 'ecological' is a marketing ploy to distract
people from the mistreatment and cruelty of animals in the
Imai argues that fur itself is ecological because it can
be worn for generations and "returns to the earth"
as organic material and causes no pollution. "We aren't
destroying anything. Aren't you going to eat meat? - wear
belts or shoes?" - she said.
Imai's 'ecological fur' - ranging in price from €8,000
for the mink bolero to the €52,000 chinchilla cape -
allows her clientele, which includes the Japanese royal family
and movie stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, to feel green,
according to the designer. "They want to take part in
being ecological, but it's hard for them to find a way to
do it" - Imai said at a Tokyo hotel, showing her 2008-2009
collection debuting her 'ecological fur'.
Imai's ecological fur will be sold around the world later
this year, including the US and Europe, she said.
Luxury fur has drawn protests over the years from those who
say animals suffer mistreatment. "The idea of 'ecological
fur' is absurd" - Kristin Leppert, director of the
Fur Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States, said
in an email. "The industry has been trying to 'green-wash'
their product for years to distract from the cruelty and killing
that continues to be documented."
Ashley Fruno, senior campaigner for PETA Asia-Pacific, believes
fur for clothing is unnecessary. "Fur can't be environmentally-friendly,
because you can't be concerned about the environment without
caring about our fellow inhabitants - the animals" -