Designer Mariouche Turns Controversial Fur Green

Time for fall/winter fashions and when it comes to staying warm in freezing temperatures, the eco-minded public feels left in the cold by more than the weather. There aren’t many choices beyond synthetics. So what’s the solution?

The answer lies in one’s moral perspective on what constitutes a sustainably made garment. Some find it strange when a petroleum-based synthetic is praised while natural materials like fur and wool are condemned.

To learn each story of creation, from the stewards of land to the designers, is to understand the environmental connection every supplier holds. Factory farming can be abusive, but what about humane small-farm animal husbandry? And how about recycling? Do those fashion results deserve discrimination?

There is practical and vogue eco outerwear available, but filling the demand without synthetics in the harsh cold is definitely a challenge. Many retailers wisely choose to sell vintage while they decipher what works best for their customers. One step further than offering vintage is redesigned.

Designer Mariouche Gagné of Harricana pampers the demand for fashionable warmth with collections of recycled fur and more. She’s located in Quebec where there is steep competition amongst Canadian fur designers, but Mariouche stands out as an eco designer for recycling at least 7,000 fur coats a year. She favors mixing natural materials like cashmere, leather, silk, and wool.

Mariouche first catered to ski resorts, which proved her designs to be sporty and functional for both genders. She described her better-priced fur creations as “eco luxury products.” Although Harricana coats have never been cheap, she developed warmth at a fraction of the price of traditional offerings.

Mariouche exhibits mostly in Paris and Milan, with a showroom in Munich. She loves mixing two or three types of recycled furs into one coat. Her objective is to flatter one’s figure, which is another weather challenge. Her practicality and style make a winning combination for fashion retailers with an ecological image that allows room for practicality.

No doubt this topic may stir animal rights activists, but amenable comments are welcome. Know that Fur Commissions USA offers research to claim natural is more earth friendly than synthetics and farmers of woolly animals say it is cruel to not shear them properly.

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About the Author

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on www.ChicEco.com, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design." Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers. From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases! My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs. I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here. Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style. In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.
  • Tim

    Hi there. This is a worthy debate to have. I think the more relevant comparison is fur vs cotton and other agricultural fibers. Recycling of furs sounds promising. Thought I would mention that I saw this on mindbodygreen.

  • Tim

    Hi there. This is a worthy debate to have. I think the more relevant comparison is fur vs cotton and other agricultural fibers. Recycling of furs sounds promising. Thought I would mention that I saw this on mindbodygreen.

  • So does an eco-friendly sustainable living PETA supported wear in the winter?

  • So does an eco-friendly sustainable living PETA supported wear in the winter?

  • Glad you asked Khürt! It is my hope that we respect all efforts to save natural resources and continuously strive to prevent animal cruelty for the common goal to harmonize humanity with nature. Admired development and manufacturing policies for one locale can vastly differ from another. Fur is a natural renewable resource which can be used for eons but is ultimately biodegradable with positive environmental impacts. Nice to know we can recycle certain plastics into garments, but there are definitely pollutants involved that negatively affect more than wildlife. And does it make sense to produce synthetics that are shipped to the cold north? Creating essential warmth in freezing temperatures has no earth-friendly alternatives but to recycle and redesign (which Mariouche does well). The point is to support eco designers in their varied efforts, but without a blanket and discriminatory attitude.

  • Glad you asked Khürt! It is my hope that we respect all efforts to save natural resources and continuously strive to prevent animal cruelty for the common goal to harmonize humanity with nature. Admired development and manufacturing policies for one locale can vastly differ from another. Fur is a natural renewable resource which can be used for eons but is ultimately biodegradable with positive environmental impacts. Nice to know we can recycle certain plastics into garments, but there are definitely pollutants involved that negatively affect more than wildlife. And does it make sense to produce synthetics that are shipped to the cold north? Creating essential warmth in freezing temperatures has no earth-friendly alternatives but to recycle and redesign (which Mariouche does well). The point is to support eco designers in their varied efforts, but without a blanket and discriminatory attitude.

  • THANKS for your comment Tim! I believe the Soil Association = http://www.soilassociation.org/web/sa/saweb.nsf/Living/organic_standards.html has set some impressive standards for clothing and textiles. I’m discovering more designers that certify their animal-based products, such as leather this way. There are revived natural tanning methods (as American Indians practiced) and GOTS approves natural dye methods. Indeed, there are respectful and sustainable ways to utilize the gifts that animals honor us after their passing from Earth. Factory farming is a method to avoid!

  • THANKS for your comment Tim! I believe the Soil Association = http://www.soilassociation.org/web/sa/saweb.nsf/Living/organic_standards.html has set some impressive standards for clothing and textiles. I’m discovering more designers that certify their animal-based products, such as leather this way. There are revived natural tanning methods (as American Indians practiced) and GOTS approves natural dye methods. Indeed, there are respectful and sustainable ways to utilize the gifts that animals honor us after their passing from Earth. Factory farming is a method to avoid!