Father’s Day is almost here! You know what that means. Time to go tie shopping! Unfortunately most ties are made of silk, and with several thousand silkworms steamed, boiled, or baked alive to make one pound of silk, the ethical, fashion-conscious man will want to steer clear of them. Killing the worms allows for the fibers of the cocoon to remain intact and undamaged (damage occurs upon emergence of the moth). Therefore, hundreds of lives are taken to create one scarf.
Even fabric labeled as “Peace” (or “Ahimsa”) silk is not cruelty-free. While the moths are allowed to emerge from their cocoons, the millions of offspring of the moths are left to starve to death, used for fertilizer, or sold as food. Not to mention the fact that the moths used in silk production have been bred to the point of almost a non-life. They emerge from their cocoons, live for few hours (at most a few days) to mate and lay eggs, and then die. They have vestigial wings so they cannot fly. There is also the consideration that the same suppliers may be used for eggs and equipment, no matter what the silk producer plans to do with the worms—so your money would trickle down to the same source, Peace silk or not.
“Wild” silk worms are not actually wild, but semi-domesticated, the cocoons farmed in a forest area. Cocoons are not collected in pretty baskets from the jungle after the moths have flown away to freedom. The process is questionable, with some sources saying that only a miniscule fraction of cocoons are allowed to hatch and breed. And in fact, many producers who call their silk “wild” still process cocoons by reeling (killing and unraveling). Again, you have to look at the whole agricultural system – just like with milk and eggs.
Luckily, there are many gorgeous materials that are completely vegan that can be used in place of silk that offer a similar drape and feel. Bamboo and tencel are great choices. While ties in those materials are a bit hard to find, ones made of cotton or microfiber are becoming more and more available. (Note: Microfiber is not the most renewable material, so recycling is advised.)
Jaan J. is a great destination for a huge assortment of vegan ties. And Joshua Katcher of The Discerning Brute is currently in the process of developing a line of cruelty-free neckwear under his Brave GentleMan label, using sustainable fabrics (including vegan, closed-loop interfacing!). In addition many non-vegan labels happen to make vegan ties.
So don’t feel pressured to buy a silk tie, no matter how prevalent they are. Instead, give the gift of compassion combined with style. Here is a selection of a few pieces that would make any dad happy:
2. Jaan J. Macclesfield Tie, $33.50
4. J.Crew Thin Stripe Tie, $59.50
5. Cyberoptix TieLab microfiber, water-based ink ties (various prints available for neck and bow ties), $30