Maybe There's No Eco-Fur So How About Green Suede

TreeHuggers, being a discerning lot, when recently polled came down in a clear majority against the concept of "eco-fur" when we wrote first about a chinchilla/polyester jacket from designer Chie Imai, and then about an expensive line of pillows and throws made from the skins of invasive possums wreaking havoc in New Zealand.

Green suede, no shoes
So there's probably little hope trying to persuade these same gentle readers that there's such a thing as green suede. But let's just give it a try. Bernardo, a clothing line based in New York City, is launching a line of suede garments to Nordstrom stores next week. Priced at between $168 - $198, Bernardo's suede jackets, in a number of styles such as a bomber, a trench and a kind of zippered poncho, are claimed by the company to be machine washable (and dryer-safe) and eco-friendly.

Biodegradable tanning agents
Bernardo uses pig skin for its suede from just a single company, Hormel Foods (yup, originators of SPAM) which breeds only U.S. animals and supposedly treats its pigs humanely. Once Bernardo gets the skins, they use biodegradable tanning agents, dyes, and finishes (eschewing the use of chrome in tanning means some of the colors can be a little less vibrant, the company says) at the IUV tannery in Slovenia. Certified by Britain's The Soil Association, the IUV tannery process is also "verified" by the British Leather Council. The solid waste from the process is made into fertilizer, the water is put through treatment so that it leaves the factory as drinkable. Nut, coconut and bone buttons are used on the jackets as well as organic cotton for trim, and the hang tags are made from a "residual" of the tanning process and then embedded with California poppy seeds.The company said the jackets are produced at factories enforcing ethical, no-child-labor policies. Each of the Bernardo jackets will have an ID number on the hang tag so that a purchaser can track the jacket's provenance. Even though it seems pretty
ludicrous, Bernardo says the jackets are designed so that they can be buried in the ground and will completely biodegrade. While all of these features will not be enough for those that have an ethical objection to the killing of animals for their meat or skins, it does seem like a step forward in clean production practices. Bernardo's owner Stuart Pollack told the Bellevue Reporter:

It's all a progression. Twenty-five percent "green" is better then 10 percent and 75 percent is better then 50 percent. We need to start somewhere and then move forward

Read more:
The Fur And The Feathers Keep Flying: Part I
The Fur Keeps Flying: Part II
Take The Poll: Can Fur Be Green?

Tags: Clothing | Fur