Good news, eco-conscious fashionistas: You may soon be able to don real fur responsibly. The downside? It comes from a rat. The nutria, to be exact, a semi-aquatic South American rat that grows to more than 2 feet long and can reach 20 pounds. Thanks to the fact that the rodents are taking over Gulf Coast marshland and chowing down on all the vegetation, their pelts are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, Vanity Fair reports.
The nutria was brought over from Argentina in the 1930s, and its fur—“tougher than mink,” says designer Gilles Mendel—was popular until the mid-70s. Ever since the fur backlash, though, the pesky rodent population has been growing again—and could doom thousands of acres of coastal wetlands. Now Billy Reid, Oscar de la Renta, and J. Mendel are a few of the designers lending a hand—by using this “bad-ass fur,” as Reid calls it, in their designs.