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BILODEAU Canada is launching a new lineup of products insulated with natural and biodegradable materials. This initiative is part of a push for sustainable development that has driven the team since the 1990s. This push has been behind the development of many projects and products and has helped the company grow despite the uncertainty of the world of fashion and fur.
Researching how to best reduce and reuse leftover material from our production lines has led to the creation of a few new products, such as yarns (coyote, polar bear and muskox) and coyote felt. However, these could not be brought to a large enough scale of production to replace synthetic fibres in insulation material. Economical, technical and material availability constraints were the main roadblocks.
Research and development efforts have been unceasing, and many avenues have been explored. Solutions from both the animal and the vegetal world are being put to the test. For the wildlife products, we have been working with the CCTT Écofaune Boréale located in Mashteuiastsh, an affiliate of the Cégep de Saint-Félicien. However, we have been making greater strides with plant materials.
After three years of collaboration between BILODEAU Canada and the Ferme Sabin Tremblay, a solution was found in milkweed. It is a perennial plant indigenous to Québec who is well adapted to a wide variety of soil types. It occupies a key role in the reproductive cycle of monarch butterflies, making it an emblematic plant for the conservation of biodiversity. The insulating properties of its coma (also commonly referred to as floss, plume or silk) has been known for centuries. It has even been shipped back to Europe alongside such luxuries as beaver pelts and was a fibre used to clothe the king Louis XV.
In 2019, a visit to Ferme Sabin Tremblay's fields, located near Alma, introduced this fascinating fibre to BILODEAU Canada. Collaboration between the two companies leads to innovations aimed at overcoming the difficulties in using this material in products on a large scale. One of the strengths of this alliance is that it covers the entire chain of production, from field cultivation to the manufacture of a final, ready-to-wear, product.
The common objective was to craft a material that would be easy to work with and made entirely of milkweed. This goal was agreed upon in order to keep the insulating properties intact, but, it made the processes a lot more complex and challenging to master.
All of this has led to this moment. BILODEAU Canada can now unveil the first generation of its milkweed insulated products. This new line showcases a natural, biodegradable insulating material produced, and then manufactured, entirely in Quebec. Combined to fur and leather, it allows BILODEAU Canada to offer its customers a line of items that contain a very high percentage of natural and biodegradable fibres. With this collection, environmentally conscious shoppers can reduce their ecological footprint without sacrificing warmth, style and comfort.
The first product of this new collection is the urban mitt. A staple of BILODEAU Canada's regular collection, it's one of our best-sellers. Elegant, stylish and comfortable, it's an excellent mitt for every day outings.
By replacing the synthetic insulation with our new milkweed insulation, this mitt is even warmer than the original while significantly reducing its ecological footprint. Containing 64% of biodegradable natural fibres, its main components are fur, leather and milkweed. We are already looking at alternative materials to replace the remainder of the synthetic ones (36%).
In the coming weeks, a limited edition of milkweed insulated coats will be manufactured. In January 2022, we plan to launch a new product made entirely of natural and biodegradable materials.
Read up on the project on the Québec circulaire website.