Faux fur brand Maison Atia held its first Chicago pop-up shop and pet adoption event over five days — from Wednesday to Sunday — at PAWS Chicago, a Chicago-based animal shelter.
“It’s really about showing our brand to Chicago for the first time with the PAWS community,” said Chloe Mendel, the creative force behind Maison Atia. In partnership with the animal shelter, her brand’s tagline, “Buy a coat, save a puppy,” means that every coat sold, whether at a pop-up event or online, helps provide a homeless dog or cat transportation to a no-kill shelter.
Mendel is a sixth-generation furrier and daughter of Gilles Mendel, whose previous fashion stints included designing ready-to-wear and couture for her family business J. Mendel. She launched Maison Atia in November 2017. “The faux fur world was untapped and looked at, kind of, like rock ‘n’ roll. I want to change that conversation and really discern the quality of the faux fur. I look for color and quality,” said Mendel, who splits her time between New York City and Chicago, where she lives with boyfriend and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, their son Augustus Juppiter, daughter Philomena Clementine, two dogs and two cats.
“I grew up in a world of luxury. We apply fur techniques and fur finishes to fake fur. A lot of craftsmanship and skill is involved,” Mendel said. “We really take care in treating it like a real fur garment as much as we can.”
Retail prices for coats range from $900 to $1,800, scarves are $185 to $225 and berets are $225. Many of the coats are even reversible.
Mendel would love to expand the line into more categories — like throws and pillows and, of course, more coats.
Fake fur has been under attack by environmentalists, however. Gustave Maisonrouge, cofounder of Maison Atia, said the brand is committed to minimizing its environmental impact through actions such as shipping materials by boat rather than plane and maximizing fabric usage by using scraps left over from coats to make scarves or bracelets.
“We are actively working with organizations such as Fabscrap and Positive Luxury to push manufacturers to do more R&D, and find new, high-quality fabrics that might use natural fibers — for example, there is a start-up developing biodegradable faux leather grown in a lab,” Maisonrouge said. “Ultimately, the biggest problem in the fashion world, from an environmental point of view, is creating pieces that aren’t meant to last…who knows, maybe one day people will be talking about wearing their mother’s or grandmother’s Maison Atia ‘Catherine’ coat.”
Maison Atia’s next pop-up will be at Herrick Gallery in London from Dec. 3 to Dec. 16 through a platform of designers called Curated Crowd.