The global artificial fur market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent to surpass $129.21 million by 2023, according to a new market report by Technavio.
Roughly half of the market share will originate from the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe is expected to register higher incremental growth than North America.
The London-based research firm credits technical advances in fabrication and a growing awareness of animal-welfare issues for the burgeoning interest in alternatives to genuine fur.
“Some major fashion retailers and apparel stores are taking steps to reduce the use of animal fur and switching to artificial fur,” it said.
True enough, brands that have banned fur are rapidly becoming more common than those still permitting it. Even luxury stalwarts like Burberry, Coach, Chanel, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Versace have outlawed fur within the span of a few years.
But concern about the ecological impact of clothing is also peaking, which is where the argument gets a bit sticky. While a faux-fur coat may be good for minks, foxes and chinchillas, it’s less ideal for the environment. Real furs, as fur advocates like to argue, are organic materials that will eventually biodegrade. Their polyester-and-acetone counterparts, on the other hand, could take hundreds of years to break down, if at all. And that’s without going into the environmental implications of Big Oil or the problem of microfibers from shedding.
Which is why, as Technavio notes, one of the key drivers of the market will be the rise in popularity of faux fur made less-polluting materials, including recycled plastic bottles.
Ecopel, a self-described “faux fur artisan,” for instance, has developed an ersatz fur derived from ocean waste. Ashleigh Chambers, a designer from the United Kingdom, is working on creating a biodegradable pelts using cellulose derived from rose bushes. Ingvar Helgason, CEO of the startup VitroLabs, is looking into stem cells as an avenue for lab-grown fur.
Other manufacturers are also experimenting with natural fibers such as cotton and hemp, which Technavio says are not only better for the planet but also provide better insulation.
“Artificial fur does not provide insulation like real fur and does not allow the skin to breathe,” it said. “As a result, the body temperature increases, which causes sweating.”