Here at HEW Clothing we fully acknowledge that the fashion industry has a responsibility towards creating a more sustainable future. One of the ways in which we do this is by repurposing possum fur from New Zealand. As possums are a classified as a pest in New Zealand, they are not farmed for fur but it is a by-product that otherwise would go to waste through the pest control process. We think it is fitting to celebrate the possum fur and create pieces which utilise the natural benefits in addition to creating some stylish winter staples.
What is the possum crisis in New Zealand?
It may at first seem a contradiction for an ethically sourced, environmentally conscious fashion line to be using possum fur in their clothes, but this is not the case. In New Zealand, possums are a pest and they are currently posing a serious threat to the native flora and fauna.
Introduced in the mid 19th century in an effort to start the fur industry, there are currently 30 million possums in New Zealand and they are threat to the ecosystem. Similar to the Cane toad situation in Australia, controlling the population size is imperative to the conserve the native environment.
In keeping with HEW Clothings values, we are happy to re-use and give new purpose to what has become somewhat of an ecological crisis. Repurposing the possum fur to create a range of stylish winter staples is not only ethically but also environmentally conscious.
Why do we use possum fibres from New Zealand?
- Possums pose a threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem, particularly as omnivores that consume leaves and fruit. They have also been known to be a predatory threat to native birds and reptiles.
- Possums occupy 99% of the country.
- The damage possums have caused has cost New Zealand farmers $35 million each year.
- The New Zealand government spends over $110 million per year on possum control. In 2019, the government received funding of $19.5 million to be used on the predator control of possums.
- According to the Sydney Morning Herald, New Zealand aims to eradicate the possum by 2050, with the goal to make the country ‘predator-free’.
- Possums are among the predators that are a threat to 25 million of New Zealand’s native species every year.
- In a study by the University of Auckland from 2015, it is estimated that a pest control program on such a large scale could cost more than $8.3 billion in government spending over a 50-year span.
Why is it a sustainable source?
A sustainable industry has emerged where fur fibres have been sourced from possums, with the raw material provided by hunters. Possum is not farmed for fur, it is a by-product that would otherwise be wasted in the pest control process. Its use helps prevent the destructive effects by what is considered to be a threat to the natural wildlife in New Zealand. Utilising a natural fibre such as possum helps reduce the amount of synthetic fibres in production.
What are the benefits of using Possum?
Apart from the environmental reasons to be using possum fur, there are many added natural perks of using this material.
- Possum hair follicle structures are hollow, which provide great insulation, retains heat as well as being lightweight.
- Possum fur is thick and soft; its fibre is 35% warmer than cashmere and 50% warmer than Merino wool.
- Possum wool is often combined with Merino wool to create a soft and warm fabric that does not pill.
- Soft and gentle on skin
- Machine washable
- Retains heat well
- Does not pill
- Odour resistant
- Durable and lightweight
- Has anti-crease properties
When you buy a possum piece from HEW Clothing you can rest assured knowing that we are not in support of the unethical mass produced fur industry. We are utilising the natural product that would otherwise go to waste as it is the by-product of controlling the unwanted possums population in New Zealand.
Source: Landcare Research New Zealand, The Sydney Morning Herald