Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Tim Gunn on fur and Project Runway

February 18, 2009

Check out Tim Gunn talking to Reuters about the fashion industry’s use of animal products including fur, leather and wool. Gunn, creative director of Liz Claiborne and former chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons, has partnered with the activist group PETA to raise awareness about ethical sourcing of fur to his peers in the fashion industry.

We know we gave you the highlights yesterday, but figured you might like to hear straight from the … err… horse’s mouth about synthetic alternatives, attitudes of fashion insiders to the issue and Project Runway.  Sorry if it is hard for you to hear our questions, but we think the answers are pretty self explanatory.

(Video: Reuters)


I agree that fur should be being ethically sourced and correctly labeled, and effort should be made to prevent illegally procured, endangered and otherwise questionable furs from being used, but I have a greater problem with the question of fake fur and leather vs real fur and leather.

Any affordable synthetic furs and leathers at this point are petroleum products, or polyester, also known as “micro fiber” with all the same polluting, non-biodegradable, here for the next 50,000 or so years half-life.

Leather is protective & non-flammable (which is why motorcyclists and glass blowers wear it) will bio-degrade and it’s life as a functional garment, bag etc. can easily span 20 years or more.

Reducing the amount of cheap, throw-away or limited use and eternally lasting flow of polyester and it’s likes that are filling up our already massively strained landfill system on it’s own justifies the use of REAL Leather and ethical Fur over synthetics.

Attempts to “develop” synthetic leather substitutes started over well 100 years ago and have not seem to have progressed much past “ultrasuede” for feel and longevity, and unless the process becomes entirely divorced from petroleum it won’t solve any of the inherent problems.


Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see