Nutria: The Kudzu of the Furry Animal Kingdom

By Nina Thomas

Kind-hearted animal lovers often wrestle with the issue of whether or not to wear vintage fur. The eco-friendly argument is that fur is organic and formaldehyde free; and vintage fur means that since the damage has been done, it is more ethical to re-use and avoid the landfill. Others will argue that fur is fur and represents animal cruelty; the only use for vintage fur should be to offer warmth and comfort to rescue animals.

And then there’s the debate about Nutria

Words from Anna Jane Grossman, for the NYT: Is Their Pest Your Clean Conscience?

[U]nlike other soft and furry animals, nutria is being rebranded as a socially acceptable and environmentally friendly alternative way to wear fur.

In the 1980s, the nutria population soared and started to endanger the fragile ecosystem. The invasive rodent eats away the bottom of the plants that hold the coastal wetlands together.

In 2002, Louisiana started paying trappers and hunters $5 for every nutria killed. The effort to control the nutria population had some success, with bounty hunters killing about 400,000 animals last year. But the carcasses were simply discarded or left to rot in the swamp.

As early Native Americans were committed to using every bit of a hunted animal, should we not follow suit?  (Or coat, or hat or even a sofa?) Lenny Kravitz, full-time musician, and part time interior designer, has a nutria sofa is his NYC apt. Billy Reid has used it in a collection and calls it “bad ass” fur. Oscar de La Renta may not refer to it in those terms, but has used nutria in some of his pieces too.

Project Artisan just added a new designer, Indiana Abandon, that uses Nutria fur in his gorgeous collection of handbags. It brings the issue of ethics and fur just a bit closer to home.

Whether you buy the idea that “pork is the other white meat’ or that nutria is ethical fur, how we choose to feed and clothe ourselves is a personal decision. I’m just sayin’. What say you? Please comment and let us know your thoughts!


4 Responses to “Nutria: The Kudzu of the Furry Animal Kingdom”

  1. 1 JenniferS
    February 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for posting this. A life-long vegetarian who loves fashion- I am always looking for ethical alternatives. Though I’ve been anti-fur and at times anti-leather, this seems like it would actually be OK.
    Score one for fashion!

  2. February 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    This is a great post with a thoughtful alternative to unethical fur that we all want to avoid. Excellent.

  3. 3 Kathryn
    February 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    This post is very thought provoking and I think that this is the perfect time to be addressing these issues. We really need to look at all the various resources that are available to us, not just same ones that we’ve overdone for years. Great article!

  4. 4 Laura
    February 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    This is so interesting! I’ve never hear of this before but I think this is a great idea!

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