Fur doesn't fly in Portland.
It's a good thing, then, that local apparel company Velu's faux-fur jackets—described in press materials as "vegan faux fur"—doesn't look like the product of any actual, living animal. Instead, it looks like the pelt from a Dr. Seuss character. Or a really stylish shag carpet.
After meeting in San Diego and discovering that their respective design and marketing skills complemented one another, co-founders Steven Haggerty and Jordan Laub came to Portland with the idea of creating a versatile statement piece that could be worn in almost any environment, from the desert to the slopes, from the club to a giant outdoor festival.
Made with recycled plastics, Velu's reversible "multiverse jackets" are meant to be changed along with the environment—they even have removable sleeves that can be converted into boot covers. They named the company after the French word for "hairy," though they prefer a rougher translation of "furry."
"I think 'hairy' is not very sexy," says Haggerty, "so we try to stay away from that."
Faux fur or not, it's hard to imagine seeing many of these being worn casually on the streets of Portland. But with their innovative flair and niche utility, it's not difficult to see them becoming a festival favorite.
WW: What was the inspiration behind Velu?
Steven Haggerty: Jordan has been going to Burning Man since he was, like, 13 years old. When you're out on the playa, it's a lot of fun, you see a lot of cool stuff, but the thing is, it just really shifts in temperature. It gets really, really hot in the daytime, but it gets frigid cold at night. People at Burning Man tend to have these huge, obnoxious trench coats and faux-fur coats, but it's kind of not practical outside of that event unless you're, like, living in Alaska. So Jordan wanted to develop a cool coat that he could wear more than just one time in the year, and one that could be useful besides at fun events.
Who is your target audience?
It's honestly crazy because we've been to [electronic music festivals] Serenity Gathering, Enchanted Forest and most recently [Electric Daisy Carnival] in Las Vegas. We'll sell more natural or real-looking fur at these hippy festivals, but at EDC, we have one called Lorax, and that literally sold out first. At the festivals, we couldn't give that thing away. People would look at it and be like, "I really don't want this." It really goes to show—rave versus festival, totally different demographic. We've also sold them in Lake Tahoe just in the wintertime, and we have skiers and snowboarders who will buy ours instead of getting a new North Face.
How does it hold up in inclement weather?
Ideally you don't want to get it super wet, right? It is faux fur, so then it becomes like a nappy dog. In most snowboarding conditions where it's just a nice sunny day, and super cold, that's the perfect time to go snowboarding in them.
Isn't "vegan faux fur" sort of redundant?
To be honest, half the people that look at a sign that says "faux fur" ask what "fox fur" is. We initially didn't even want to use the term "vegan," but people weren't getting it. It's recycled plastic, we aren't killing any animals. Basically, it's something that we stumbled on where we realized that it's really just another word to describe what we have. That way people will at least love it or hate it, but have an opinion about it.
BUY IT: Velu's multiverse jackets are available for purchase at velufur.com.