Fashion Crush: Kym Canter / House of Fluff

All Images: House of Fluff

Like vegan vs real leather, the question of animal free fur vs real fur is a fierce one. However one New Yorker is very clear where she stands on the subject and she’s not shy about it. Meet Kym Canter, CEO and Founder of House of Fluff, the animal free fur brand you’ll want to wear.

Like it or loath it, fur has long been a perennial style essential. Worn by Kate Moss, Lauren Hutton (back in the day) and Samantha from SATC (remember that famous scene where red paint was thrown over her fur coat by an angry PETA protester?). However as we come to a better understanding of the truth behind the way our clothes are made, furs are looking less likely to make the cut in a more conscious wardrobe. What if you could wear an animal free fur coat that was ethically made and effortlessly designed? Kym Canter has done just that. Enter NY brand House of Fluff.

The Problem With Conventional Fake Fur

We must admit we were intrigued to hear about a sustainable fake fur company. While most faux fur pieces are animal free, unless you accidentally bought cat fur on the high street but the less said about that the better, they aren’t made consciously. Polyester and acrylic have long been used to create a close alternative to real fur. However both fibres are made from chemicals derived from coal and petroleum. They then undergo questionable dying methods to get them to look authentic. And being a synthetic product, they won’t biodegrade any time soon. So far, so unattractive.

On the flip side, the fur industry would have you believe that theirs was the more ‘sustainable’ alternative. Some are created from ‘by product’ from the meat industry or the product of Government sanctioned cullings. The fur lobby passionately preaches a message of waste not want not. Unfortunately this is often untrue as fur farms are still prevalent so it’s unlikely that your coat is the best way to remember a few dozen Mink who died of natural causes. The fur industry also maintains that their product is biodegradable because it’s made from animals.

The truth however is that many furs are treated with a cocktail of chemicals to stop it from biodegrading while you wear it. Toxic chemicals like formaldehyde are regularly used. Yuk, no thanks. So whats a girl (or guy) to do? Who better to grill about the fur industry than House of Fluff Founder Kym Canter. Having worked in the luxury fashion industry for a fur label in NY, she knows all the secrets. ‘I grew up in the 70’s and it was very culturally acceptable to eat meat, love animals and wear a fur coat. It took me awhile to realise the hypocrisy of what I was doing.’ Speaking over the phone from NY, Kym went on to describe her ‘crisis of conscience’ that led to her giving up fur for good. What happened next proves to be an industry game changer.

“In the 2 years I’ve been doing this I feel it’s moved from being a conversation no one wanted have, to being the only conversation people want to have.” – Kym Canter

The Beginning of House of Fluff

As Kym became more conscious of what she ate, applied to her skin and cleaned her home with, she became less convinced of the need for fur in her wardrobe. She had a (to some) lust-worthy collection of 26 furs. But in 2016 she decided that she could no longer wear them. They simply didn’t suit her new, greener way of life. ‘I went out to try to replace them and couldn’t find anything luxurious enough. So I decided to make an animal free fur coat,’ she told us. The first one was so successful that all her girlfriends wanted one too. They couldn’t be the only ones to want this she mused. So she sold her 26 real furs, and founded House of Fluff.

How is House Of Fluff Sustainable?

It wasn’t enough to simply create an animal free product, Kym wanted the company to do things better. ‘In the beginning it was important to have 2 pillars; animal welfare and sustainability,’ she explained. The company is entirely vegan, doesn’t use single use plastic and the coats all come packaged in reusable canvas bags. The products themselves are created from recycled polyester to create a super luxurious finish that’s barely discernible from a real fur. Each piece is lined with Tencel which is created from environmentally sustainable wood pulp. It’s the attention to detail that marks House of Fluff apart from it’s faux competitors.

It hasn’t been easy though. Kym remembers, ‘when we started to look for textiles, there was nothing on the market.’ She realised that the fabric she wanted wasn’t available and so she would have to develop it herself. The company is currently working with a partner to design a bio based fabric, made from naturally occuring materials and recycled polyester. The mixture is top secret she says, and won’t be available to buy until 2021. In the mean time, they have recently launched 100% recycled post consumer plastic waste faux fur shearling hats, which are pretty fantastic. ‘It has always been the goal at House of Fluff to be circular and that all the recycled polyester we use can be reused until the day we no longer need to use polyester at all,’ she says.

Many of the fabrics are created for her in Asia so she produces there too. This helps to limit the brand’s carbon footprint. Kym is fiercely defensive of the choice. Asian factories get a bad rap but she insists that it’s where ‘the best (sustainable fabric) developments are happening.’ Plus she’s been to her production factories and is confident of the ethical operating policies. Some pieces are also produced by hand by her small studio team in New York.

Becoming Circular

Circularity seems to be the buzz word for fashion companies right now, and Kym’s is no different. The brand is still very young but they already offer options for those looking to move their Fluff to a new home. ‘If a customer came to us and wanted to remodel their coat we would do that,’ says Kym proudly. ‘ We are aiming to be completely circular.’ In the fur industry its common to offer customers an upcycling service. Creating pillow cases out of preloved coats is also offered to House of Fluff customers. Kym doesn’t want to see a scrap go to waste. In house, the team create the adorable Scrappys out of offcuts from the studio. They also sell fabric shreds off to an external company for recycling. However Kym has her sights set on even bigger challenges. The new bio based fabrics will contain a little recycled polyester to ensure the quality, but a system will be in place to allow it to be separated from the biodegradable elements. After all, any decent conscious product has sustainability designed into it from the beginning. 

It’s not easy being a trailblazer in the fashion industry. Kym joined the party with a bang, demanding perfection, demanding more. And she’s working hard to get it. For her, it’s not just about creating a realistic, luxurious animal free fur. It’s about the company aspiring to do better and to be innovative without the usual environmental fall out. However she’s confident about the future. ‘I think there will come a time where we won’t have to say animal free or sustainable because products will all be that anyway. Progress takes time. But I think this is here to stay, the consumer wants it.’ It’s this all important change in conscious consumption that means that brands like House of Fluff can offer such a great alternative to real fur. ‘In the 2 years I’ve been doing this I feel it’s moved from being a conversation no one wanted to being only conversation people want to have,’ she ends our call with a positive message. One we can all be inspired by.