New York – Eco-friendly fur coats? It may sound like an oxymoron, but Japanese designer Chie Imai showed how it could be done with her 2008-2009 Royal Chie Collection of fur designs, which Imai and her daughter Chiaki presented on Tuesday, Oct. 28 to a group of New Yorkers that included Spike Lee and Tonya Lee Lewis, Ivanka Trump and her brother Donald Trump with his wife Vanessa and daughter Kai Madison and model Irina Pantaeva.
Chie's coats - she's been designing fur since 1982 - combine the highest grade of chinchilla fur from Finland with a recycled fabric made from used polyester by Japanese chemical company Teijin Limited. In 2005, Teijin partnered with Patagonia to take used polyester linings of their coats to create a recycled fabric for the sporting company's line. But with Royal Chie, it marks the first time the fabric has been used to create a luxury product.
"I had heard about this advanced technology, and I wanted to see it for myself," said Imai. "Then I saw that it was something that was very interesting and new."
Imai wanted to create a luxury product that was both innovative, and something that could be worn by her customers wanting to participate in the "green" movement. She she also wanted to highlight the beauty of the fabric, which is both waterproof and breathable.
The end result are furs that showcase Imai's spirit of experimentation, both aesthetically and technologically. With Teijin's fabric, Imai opted for bold jewel tones - rich teal, crimson and mustard mixed in with inventive fur trims and embellishments.
If fur coats still seem at odds with an eco-conscious mindset, Imai points out that investment pieces like fur are passed down from generation to generation, and get plenty of use. Throw in a little recycled polyester, and one can now have their cake and eat it, too.