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The Issue With Silk

by Sica Schmitz | Posted on October 08 2015

As a vegan company we don't sell animal products, with obvious exclusions of leather and bone, the less obvious down and wool, and then the one we get the most questions about: what's the issue with silk?

A brief history, just for fun. Silk has been used for thousands of years, originating in China and spreading throughout the world as a status symbol of luxury. It is created by silkworms, the most common being Bombyx mori. The silkworm pupae spins a fibrous protective cocoon around itself while it transforms into a chrysalis, before ultimately emerging as a moth. However, in traditional silk harvesting the chrysalis is killed before the completion of this process, being boiled in water to preserve the cocoon in order to produce the most usable silk. 

It takes over 2,500 silkworms to produce one yard of silk, meaning thousands of silkworms are killed just to make one dress or top. 

Since our goal at Bead & Reel is to avoid fashion that intentionally harms any living creature, we have always been committed to not selling silk. Even Gandhi agreed with this philosophy, being critical of silk production as going against his belief in ahimsa, or "not to injure."  

Silk Worm - The Issue with Silk

Many designers and even vegans are now advocating for peace silk, a broad term used to categorize silk that has been harvested without causing harm to the silk worm. The silkworms are allowed to live once they emerge from their cocoon, however, with millions of silkworms required to meet supply demands most will not survive. 
After so many years of selective breeding and domestication, silkworms are unable to care for themselves, being blind, unable to fly, and no longer having instincts to avoid predators. 
They have become entirely reliant on humans for survival, and sadly most will starve to death shortly after leaving their cocoon.

But fret not, there are vegan options for compassionate fashionistas! Bamboo can be be used to create silky soft fabrics that has the feel of silk without the harm, like our Jonäno dresses.

Jonano - Bloom Double Sash Dress 

Modal is also a dreamy soft fabric, made from natural beech trees creating a liquid-y drape, like our Amour Vert tops.

Elena Henley Blouse Tee - Amour Vert

To us, Ethical Fashion is about choosing the options that do the least amount of harm, and with so many innovative plant-based fabrics, it's easier now than ever. 

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