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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
DuPont-Stella McCartney Partnership Yields World’s First Bio-based Faux Fur

The pioneer in sustainable luxury apparel worked with DuPont Biomaterials and Ecopel to create the next generation of luxurious alternatives to fur, resulting in a sustainable faux fur made with Sorona® bio-based fibers.

This week, Stella McCartney unveiled the world’s first bio-based faux fur — the result of a collaboration with global faux fur textile and apparel manufacturer Ecopel and DuPont Biomaterials — as part of her Summer 2020 collection.

The new Koba® Fur-Free Fur by Ecopel is made with recycled polyester and up to 100 percent DuPont™ Sorona® plant-based fibers, creating the first commercially available faux furs using bio-based ingredients Koba — the collection of which ranges from classic mink styles to plush, teddy-style fur — can be recycled at the end of its long life, helping to keep ensure it never ends up as waste and closes the fashion loop; something that McCartney is passionate about, as she pushes toward circularity. It’s 37 percent plant-based Sorona material means that it consumes up to 30 percent less energy and produces up to 63 percent less greenhouse gas than conventional synthetics.

“We’ve been working with Stella McCartney for several years and we have clearly been positively influenced by her values,” Ecopel CEO Christopher Sarfati said in a statement. “Not only are we proud to offer animal-friendly alternatives to fur, but are even more proud to take the road less traveled in designing new ways to create faux fur. From recycled to bio-based, we are supporting a transition toward more sustainable materials.”

Created by Ecopel, whose faux-fur creations also include a collection made from recycled plastics, KOBA® integrates 70-100 percent DuPont Sorona polymer homofilament fibers to offer a soft, versatile and long-lasting fur alternative; and the first commercially available faux fur using bio-based ingredients. A prototype of the first onyx black KOBA® Fur-Free Fur coat with Alter-Nappa detailing was revealed exclusively at the Summer 2020 show, on model Natalia Vodianova.

Image credit: Stella McCartney/Facebook

As McCartney said in a statement, “I am incredibly excited about this new eco-friendly, bio-based Fur-Free Fur. It is another big step toward the future of fashion being sustainable and animal free.”

“Stella McCartney has led the industry that is now increasingly moving away from the use of animal-based furs, and this collaboration allows both her cruelty-free and sustainability values to go hand in hand,” Renee Henze, Global Marketing Director at DuPont Biomaterials, said in a statement. “With KOBA® faux fur, we expect to see the use of bio-based materials gain even greater use and acceptance in the textile and fashion industry.”

According to DuPont, in addition to its energy- and GHG-saving properties, Sorona’s benefits include:

  • It is also recyclable — whereas acrylic plastic that is sometimes used in faux fur is not; 100% Sorona-based fabrics can be easily recycled back into PET (and PTT if one chooses) melt streams. 

  • The unique molecular structure of Sorona fiber provides performance benefits including softness, brilliant colors and moisture wicking, which enabled Ecopel to create a full suite of faux fur solutions beyond what is in the market today.

Image credit: Ecopel

As a spokesperson from Ecopel explained to Sustainable Brands, with the development of this next-generation faux fur came the need to dispel some long-held misconceptions about what constitutes material sustainability in the fashion industry.

"Some brands were torn between harming animals or using synthetics that have an impact on the environment. This was a surprise for us; few designers seem to realize that, polyester, for instance, has a smaller impact than animal-based fibers. Actually, many brands think that fibers considered 'natural' are necessarily eco-friendly, which is far from being true ; as, for instance, is demonstrated by the ecological issues linked to leather. So, we had to provide them with more facts and education for a more balanced conversation. We didn’t want the debate to become a simplistic ‘saving animals vs protecting the environment.’ In addition to that, synthetics have the potential to become a closed-loop system."

In addition to the circularity potential, the spokesperson said Ecopel’s faux fur products also improve on conventional because of its use of chemicals that are REACH-certified and free of harmful components, when necessary.

Ecopel says it’s too early to say how much of its faux fur will contain Sorona fibers going forward, but the spokesperson told SB : "Ideally, we would like all our faux furs [to be] from recycled or from bio-based sources, because we are highly motivated in creating a transition from 100 percent oil-based to 100 percent sustainable. From what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, the reception of brands is hugely positive, so the transtion might happen in the coming years."

Koba Fur-Free Fur will be developed as part of the Stella McCartney Collections from 2020.