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‘Project Runway’ Gives Bio-Based Faux Fur a High-Fashion Glow-Up

Emerging designers turned sustainable faux fur into fantastical creations on Thursday’s episode of “Project Runway.”

For the Bravo TV reality show’s popular avant-garde challenge, up-and-coming fashion designers got up close and personal with Sorona’s bio-based fur alternative, the Stella McCartney-approved fiber developed with Ecopel’s Koba.

The episode landed as Armani just came out against angora, the latest in a laundry list of brands fleeing fur over animal-welfare concerns and a growing consumer preference for sustainable fashion. Luxury giant Kering this fall announced plans to go fur-free, while innovators are cooking up lab-grown fur, and premium brands from Valentino to Mackage have turned their backs on animal-derived hairs. Israel this year became the first country to enact a fur ban, with some caveats.

What’s more, interest in artificial fur is expanding the market opportunity for non-animal-based options, according to ReportLinker’s July data forecasting a nearly 16 percent combined annual growth report through 2025.

Amid the rapidly changing zeitgeist, the “Project Runway” spotlight illustrated how Sorona can help luxury fashion brands mimic with look of fur without harming fauna in the process. Its 37 percent plant-based composition is said to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and emit 63 percent less greenhouse gas versus animal-derived fur. The reality design show’s contestants, however, were much more interested in the fabric’s aesthetic appeal, with more than 200 yards of recyclable faux fur resembling the look of leopard, cheetah, coyote, wool, and rabbit that host and “Project Runway” alum Christian Siriano called “groundbreaking” and “amazing.

Chasity Sereal and Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste ultimately prevailed with a structured pink Sorona faux fur bodice atop a Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter-paint skirt, which earned top marks from judges Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth and guest judges Esteban Cortazar, a Colombian designer, and style icon and singer Billy Porter. The duo beat Anna Yinan Zhou and Octavio Aguilar’s “glamour Flintstones” animal-print ensemble, one of the night’s lowest-scoring entrants, and Coral Castillo and Zayden Skipper’s “commercial” red-and-black macramé-embellished outfit. Designers Bones Jones and Aaron Michaels also put in a strong showing with an opera-appropriate “Game of Thrones”-inspired showpiece.

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The high-profile primetime exposure could give eco-friendly fur alternatives a boost. “The transition to faux fur isn’t a passing trend,” Alexa Raab, global brand and communications leader for Sorona, told Sourcing Journal. “We have to do better for the planet and that means compassion for all living things. The world’s most influential brands and thought leaders in fashion and media are paving the way.”

Raab said Sorona demonstrates that “luxury and faux fur are not mutually exclusive.”

“We think we’ll continue to see more high-end designers becoming fur-free,” she added. “It’s exciting to answer that call with limitless colors and styles of bio-based Sorona faux fur.”