In recent years, there has been a notable increase in vegan alternatives to leather, fur, and wool. Prominent cruelty-free brands like Vaute and Hoodlamb have made it easier than ever to make a fashion statement without wearing animals. Consequently, in response to the movement away from animal-based textiles, designers such as Gucci have been forced to make changes to their own business practices and are beginning to incorporate vegan-friendly materials into the development of their lines. This is something to celebrate.
But there’s still more work to be done. In comparison to fur farms, for example, relatively little attention has been brought to silk production. What’s wrong with silk? To understand this, we first have to look at where silk comes from. Silk is made from silkworms, which produce and spin the fiber to form cocoons around themselves during the caterpillar phase. In nature, when silkworms turn into moths, they will eat away the cocoon in order to escape and fly away. In controlled mass production, silkworms are most commonly boiled alive while their cocoons are still intact. About 15 silkworms are killed in order to produce just a gram of silk thread (and 10,000 are killed to make a traditional sari!). There are some alternate ways to obtain these cocoons without killing silkworms, such as Peace Silk and Ahimsa Silk, but these practices represent a small percentage of silk production today.
One might assume that there’s no great vegan and sustainable alternative to silk. Indeed, until recently, that was the case. Enter cupro–silk’s cruelty-free alternative.
What Is Cupro?
Despite its unusual name, cupro comes from a plant with which we’re all familiar: cotton. The fiber, also known as cotton linter, can be found surrounding cotton seeds after the plant has been ginned. Normally unused and discarded, it is now being recognized for its silk-like properties, in addition to its eco-conscious production process (oh, and did I mention cupro is biodegradable?!). Moreover, cupro is incredibly soft–even softer than organic cotton–and it’s temperature adaptable. One of the things I’ve heard people bemoan about silk is that it’s too precious, forcing them to run to the dry cleaner every time they want to wash a garment. Not so with cupro; you can throw it in your washer and dryer without a problem.
If all that wasn’t enough to spark your interest, cupro looks great on! It drapes just like silk (but without the annoying static), and there are so many great designers who are picking up on this up and coming fabric. Here are some of my favorite pieces.
Beautiful Cupro Clothing from Ethical Designers
Anissa Pant by Amour Vert, $98
Half Moon Wrap Dress by Vesta Studio, $115
Lorena Jumpsuit by Avesso, $145
Have you tried wearing cupro? How do you think it compares to silk?
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Photo: Amour Vert; Vesta Studio; Avesso