STYLE

'Accidental Fur': Fashion Designer Turns Roadkill Into Accessories

14/12/2015 13:31 GMT | Updated 14/12/2015 13:59 GMT

An American fashion designer creates neck muffs, leg warmers, hats and purses from roadkill, or "accidental fur," as she prefers to call it.

Pamela Paquin, owner of Petite Mort Furs, a two-year-old Boston-based company, claims she's offering the fur industry an alternative to wild fur trapping and large-scale fur farms, reports AP.

"All this fur is being thrown away," Paquin said. "If we can pick that up, we never have to kill another fur-bearing animal again."

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Pamela Paquin poses with an "accidental fur" raccoon neck muff she created

Animal rights groups have mixed feelings about roadkill fur being used by the fashion industry.

"We'd just say it's in very poor taste," said Kara Holmquist at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, declining to elaborate.

Lisa Lange, a senior vice president at People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) said that there's "never an excuse" to wear fur, but that it's "far better" to wear roadkill than farmed fur.

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Others worry Paquin's products may serve to increase demand for fur from all sources.

"A business that promotes wearing real fur as fashionable and acceptable may well create more demand for fur from all sources, and could give all fur wearers a shield from legitimate criticism," said Virginia Fuller, of the Boston-area Citizens to End Animal Suffering and Exploitation (CEASE).

Paquin counters that the stigma around fur has eroded in recent years and she claims greater use of faux fur trimmings on clothes and accessories has revived its popularity.

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Pamela Paquin tries on a fawn scarf and belt made from roadkill by her company Petite Mort Furs

Increasing demand for fur, Paquin said, is part of the reason she chose to jump into the industry despite having no background in fashion or design, and after working mostly office jobs for environmental and sustainability organisations.

The Fur Information Council of America said the U.S. alone recorded $1.5 billion in fur sales in 2014. Globally, it's part of an over $35 billion (£23 billion) industry.

"Clearly advocacy had failed," Paquin said. "Alternatives must be found.

"Making use of animals that would otherwise be thrown away is sensible."

Each piece from Petite Mort Furs comes with a personal note explaining where and when the animal was found.

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Pamela Paquin harvests the pelt of a fisher cat in Central Massachusetts, America

Paquin works with animal control specialists to gather the carcasses, but skins many of them herself. She considers the process almost sacred.

"The value that these products have is that they're handmade, local and last a lifetime," Paquin explains.

"That's not just couture and high end, but that's also sustainable."

Faux Fur For Autumn/Winter 2015