On the occasion of our latest SUSTAINABLE ISSUE, we talked to several insiders and experts that are dealing with sustainability in fashion. One of them is designer Kiama Colas. Colas was born in the French Pyrennes and raised by learning to craft and sell teddy bears, creative and communication consultant, Kiama Colas, who studied art and design and graduated at Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts de Paris, started the luxurious soft toy manufacturer Histoires de betes in 2014. Whilst going fur-free is currently a trending movement within the fashion industry, we asked the French designer why she continues to only use real fur for her collection.


Sustainable fur: is that even possible (concerning animal rights)?

Fur is sustainable, natural and ethical. If you look in the past, you can find that most of the civilizations who lived peacefully and close to nature used fur. Like the Inuits and Native Americans... You eat the animal and you tan the fur. It's biodegradable, renewable and lasts a lifetime. The story of my family is connected to ethics and recycling. My parents lived in the Pyrénées. There, there's sheep with shepherds. They live at the very top of the mountain, they use the milk to make cheese and they sold the meat. And they used to throw out the lamb fur because nobody in France knows how to tan it anymore. All the tanneries closed, and were relocated in Asia where poor people tan the fur/leather. My parents decided to recycle unused fur from lambs and rabbits and to learn how to tan with natural powders. For more than 30 years they crafted fur jackets, fur toys and lived in the mountains.

 

Still, in the end it’s about killing an animal, often without any necessity. This is the accusation of animal activists. What’s your response?

The first point: it's not because you kill an animal that you are a monster, and you deserve to die. Nowadays, animal activists use the fur subject to make people change their mind to welcome the new industrial world, with synthetic meat and more chemicals products. They don’t act to protect animals; they organize violence using fake news to raise more funds. It's all about money. Maybe you can have a look at what PETA did to animals when they where supposed to save them, and the amount of money they earn and how they use it.
Last year many activists asked people on Facebook to send me hate messages. They sent messages to my home like they would come and kill me. They never ask about your work, where the fur comes from, how you do it. They just want to spread violence on other social media to manipulate people's minds. The subject is very hard. You are scared all the time, just because you don’t think as they do. Just like Daech.

On the other side it's true that it can happen a farmer is not treating animals in the best way. They [the activists] use one example to say all the people working in the fur sector are monsters. You can be a trapper, you regulate the environment, you sell some fur and live in a small wood cabin. You can be a farmer, you can also work in the food industry and recycling the fur from the animals we eat. There are many [different] furs and many ways of doing it. 



How do you source your furs?

Histoires de bêtes is the only company who is using fur from a French mink farm. We decided to organize a partnership with a French farmer who is doing a great job. It means I don’t buy fur at auctions, but at a more expensive price and at only one farm to be sure of where the fur comes from.
Europe developed a standard called WelFur which gives guidelines and makes sure farmers are doing the best for the animals.
We use also rabbit fur from time to time. It comes from little farms in the south of France and we tan it with natural processes. 

What is your vision about fur products for the future?

To me what I eat, what I buy, what I wear is a way to be connected to the world and define one's values. Fur is still there, from the very beginning of human history, even if animal activists are frightening craftsman and farmers... Fur is leather. Vegan people at least help to understand it's not the fur only, it's the leather, the silk, the wool, and all the things we use, eat, that comes from animals.
Fur is one of the best materials, nothing Man created can be as soft, keep you as warm and be natural as fur. Fake fur is fake news. Fur is also for people who want to protect the environment, the animals, small craftsman, farmer, and local sustainable development.

I believe fur is the future, just like leather, wool, silk, ethical, natural, sustainable crafted products in small local activities.



Read also
Bruce Atherley

Interview

"Technology makes it all more sustainable"

Read more →

Find out more about the topic in our new Sustainable ISSUE here.