Is Vegan Silk Really Vegan? What Should We Call Our Cruelty Free Silk?
We were recently featured on Lori Smith's fantastic blog rarelywearslipstick.com. Lori had kindly reviewed the latest knicker from our Eco Lingerie collection, the Peace Silk And Vintage Lace Knicker.
You can read Lori's review here: http://www.rarelywearslipstick.com/2014/01/review-ayten-gasson-peace-silk-knickers/
Though the review was positive, with Lori admiring the texture of the silk, the fit and the softness of the vintage lace, we were disappointed to read that some people were confused by the term "vegan silk" and questioned whether vegan silk could really be described as vegan if it was still produced by a silk worm. Even without the cruelty.
As described in our blog post "What's the different between organic and "normal" silk?" conventional silk is produced when an adult silk worm begins to spin a fibroin protein which they produce themselves. The strain of silk is woven into a tightly enclosed cocoon. Each cocoon can be formed from up to 100 meters of silk. Next, the silk worm secretes a fluid which burns a hole thought the weave allowing it to emerge. Unfortunately this also damages and breaks the fibre. Instead, the farmer kills the silk worm by boiling it alive, saving the silk.
Peace silk is vegan because it allows the silkworm to emerge out of the cocoon naturally. Fibres from the damaged cocoon are then spun together forming a silk which has the same luxurious feel as Organic silk, with a raw appearance.
The term "vegan silk" is actually the name our silk supplier has given the fabric. I now feel it was naive of me to accept this term without fully understanding it. I am not a vegan, but understand what the term "vegan" means and why it is so important to people who have taken on this admirable lifestyle. My reasons for launching an ethical line and up-cycling vintage lace was due to my views on the fashion industry's impact on the environment, and having my son, which made me more aware of the need for designers to try and be more ethical. I hope that as the label grows I am able to grow the eco lingerie range and make more of stand as an ethical designer. It is only now, after hearing peoples views on the term "vegan silk" that I understand that no silk fabric can be classed as vegan. If a silk worm has not produced the silk fibres, the fabric should be classed as man made.
We have always used the term "Peace Silk" in the title of our vegan silk pieces, but have used the term "100% vegan silk" in the description. Having fully questioned the term I have decided to relabel the Peace Silk ranges as "Cruelty Free Silk" and "100% Vegetarian Silk" to avoid any confusion.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and to Lori for the lovely review. I would love to hear you views on the "vegan silk" debate, so please feel free to comment on our Facebook page or tweet us.
UPDATE October 2022: We are pleased to announce we have now introduced Bamboo Silk and Tencel Luxe to our collections, which is a great alternative to conventional silk. We will continue to source sustainable fabrics and will introduce them to more of our collections. You can view the Dawn collection here: https://www.aytengasson.com/collections/dawn-eco-collection