29 November 2010

Designers push new lines of clothing featuring 'guilt free' fur

As protests were being staged last week as part of fur free Friday, a new type of fur is being promoted as being “guilt free."

Oscar de la Renta, Billy Reid, Michael Kors and the trendy House of Yes, have all started to use the fur of the nutria, a rodent also known as a swamp rat, in their recent designs.

The fur originates from nutrias that have already been killed as part of a Louisiana state initiative to control the animal’s population. Nutria were first imported from South America by fur farmers in the 1800’s. Some of the animals escaped into the wetlands of the gulf coast where they thrived and have wreaked havoc on local eco-systems, devouring marsh grasses and decimating wetlands.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is currently paying trappers $5 for each nutria tail brought to the department. The trappers then sell the pelts of the animals to design houses.

Nutria fur is being used to make hats, muffs, leg warmers, jackets and vests this season. The rodent's hide is also being utilized to sole shoes, and their teeth as jewelry.

One fashion house, the House of Yes, recently had a show devoted to nutria fur called Nutria Palooza.

The fur is being touted as both guilt free and environmentally friendly as the animals are not being killed specifically for their fur, but because of the damage they are doing to the eco-system in the gulf coast.

The New Orleans based group Righteous Fur is promoting the use of nutria fur with the slogan “Save our wetlands, wear more nutria."

Who knows, other animals that are deemed pests, like beavers, coyotes and raccoons might end up being the next big thing in fashion.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo Credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/ndomer73