However you feel about fur that still strikes a success on fashion catwalks— and if you happen to enjoy wearing fur— the “concept of sustainability” applied to the traditional crafts of fur and leatherwork by Helsinki-based Onar fashion house allied with a strong visual identity might just appeal to you as it does to the fashion press. No wonder that Onar has been featured in internationally acclaimed magazines such as Vogue UK, i-D, The New York Times, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Onar’s design may be eye-catching but so is the history of the label.
“There were no other designers working with real fur with this sustainable value basis.”
Because for her “luxury is transparency”, Irene Kostas, the designer of label created in 2014, explains that the tanning is chrome-free and that her design only uses 100% vegetable tanned leather, ethically produced Italian shearling in Italy, fur and leather from small Finnish businesses. She adds: “ None of the animals that I used are killed for their skin. I utilize all vintage fur coats which are recut and re-dyed in Finland.” There are lots of fur stocks in Finland. Raccoon furs are also used in Onar collections because, she explains, in Finland, the animal population of the raccoon is increasing a lot and over 80% of those skins are wasted”. Upcycling and reinventing fur is Onar’s way to unleash its signature style, although the designer admits facing one big challenge: “The back or white discussion about fur”, she puts forward. “I think the most sustainable way of living is to utilize what exists”. Besides, she reminds “Faux fur is produced by oil.”
As a definitely talented designer, Irene Costas expresses her uniqueness inspired by the fusion of the cultural heritages of her two native countries. Her will to pertain traditional crafts naturally came to the half Finnish and half Greek designer. She has been living in both the city of Kokkola in northern Finland and the Rhodes Islands in southern Greece, both regions specialized in the crafts of fur and leatherwork for centuries. That’s why part of the collection is “made in house in Finland”, where she runs her family business with her mother and father, and get help from her two brothers. “I know the processes with leather and fur”, she asserts. Her father was fifteen when he started working with fur, and he still does it today as many craftsmen in Finland and Greece. Her family has always been working with fur and leather.“ They are craftsmen,” she says self-assured. “It feels lovely to continue my father’s and mother’s work”.
For sure, we need more of good spokespersons for traditional crafts in fashion as well as designers who know what it takes to make their label’s garments like Irene Kostas if fashion is to evolve towards more sustainability with designers knowing more about the apparel industry beyond storytelling.
Richness of texture meets minimalist aesthetics
Irene Costas has always loved natural materials, but on the other hand, she insists, she wanted to “present these materials in new contexts, with rich textures handcrafted in a minimalist manner. I am inspired by space, future and technology.” On weekends, she would perform as a DJ as well and makes music and modern art at the heart of her collection. All in all, her design is about “balancing” concepts. For instance, really rich and soft textures meet minimalism of Scandinavian lines; tradition meets futurism; artificial meets organic… The frequently used words and generic concepts were turned into a surprisingly successful signature style here.
My colors are really artificial and plastic, you can’t tell if this is a real fabric or not, she goes on.” It’s true. That was quite a funny eyes-catching experience. At first, there were several of us wondering whether the collection was about faux fur while touching the coats and hats at the press opening in Paris. The raccoon fur doesn’t possess the softness one might expect from any fur. One would not either expect one real fur to easily be handcrafted with electric colors and perfect geometry.
That might not have been easy to be handcrafted, but her design works wonders for a refreshing simplicity and elegance renewing the traditional use of fur with a sustainable concern rocked by the gentle name of Onar, meaning “dream’ in Ancient Greek -— and what more could anyone want?
“Is fake fur even worse than the real thing? From destroying the planet to supporting sweatshops, why experts say faking it isn’t nearly as ethical as you think”, from dailymail.co.uk : http://dailym.ai/1ZNs1fv
“Are You A Hypocrite When It Comes To Fur?”, from refinery29.com : http://r29.co/1ZCuK69
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