The Perfect Gentleman Issue 6 - Page 9

More esoteric choices are becoming available shortly. The activewear company, Patagonia, is shortly to launch clothes made form a synthetic spider silk which promises astonishing strength and resilience while bio-degrading in an appropriate timescale. Recently a project has come to light whereby leather is being grown artificially which is based on the DNA of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. How do you feel about plant-based fabrics now? Talking of leather, vegan shoes are easy to find. In general, they are made from a composite of cotton or hemp substrate with a non-porous matrix made from flax oil. The material is indistinguishable from leather, breathable, soft and was developed for the yacht upholstery industry. Leather does not play well with salt water. As far as I can tell, most vegan shoes are made in the same factory as each other in Portugal. Bourgeois Boheme is a UK company devoted to smart, creative shoes. I have a pair of these and they are wonderful. A final word about economics: if we had put as much effort into finding alternatives to leather, wool and silk as we have in attempting to overcome their shortcomings, the industry would be clean and green and we would all be wearing resilient, stylish, comfortable, plant-based clothes. The reason they are not the norm is that we were lazy and didn’t start looking for alternatives early enough. I’d like to end with a word about the reactions I get they fall into three themes: The most annoying is “Nonsense, it’s traditional, we’ve always done it, don’t give in to environmentalists.”, to which I can only reply with evidence. More commonly people know that there are problems, but believe that we can get around them. Curiously, the people who say this are unlikely to come up with useful suggestions, perhaps hoping that technological advances in their production will save beloved traditions. Obviously the global harm caused by clothing production is a problem and if a vast majority of the experts in the various fields are to be believed it’s going to be everybody’s problem sooner or later. We should devote our clothing budget to solving it. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewBate FEATURED GENTLEMAN 9