Local Company Petite Mort Turns Roadkill Into Sustainable Fashion

Founder Pamela Paquin will expand her line of 'accidental fur' in 2016.

Most animal rights activists shun wearable fur. Not Pamela Paquin.

As the founder of Petite Mort, a local company that turns roadkill into high-fashion clothing, she hopes to open Bostonians’ minds to ethical fur in 2016.

“I want to make accidental fur the norm,” says Paquin, who plans to relaunch a bigger, better Petite Mort this coming fall. Her clothing company, currently based out of the Newbury Handmade Market on Newbury Street, uses roadkill flagged by the Massachusetts Highway Department, turning the creatures’ fur into hats and mittens.

Petite Mort launched last year out of Paquin’s home in Wayland, where she grew up on a farm surrounded by animals. With a master’s in Peace Studies, awarded by a university in Denmark, under her belt, she decided to combat the “incredibly disturbing” expectation that we should turn away from death.

“Accidental fur is all natural and humane,” Paquin says, adding that, this year, Petite Mort will embrace “vegetable tanning” as a wholesome alternative to the chemical cleansing of animal pelts. “I have half a bear at home soaking in walnut juice that I grew in my own backyard,” she says.

Soon, the company won’t be relying on Paquin’s backyard. “I’m working with lots of big-name suppliers and designers who are excited to make the shift as we enter our second sale season,” says Paquin, who hopes to turn out 500 products this year. As of now, prospective partners are undisclosed.

As her company expands, Paquin hopes accidental fur will be a game-changer in the fashion industry. “I don’t see this change happening overnight,” she says, noting that over a million roadside animals are killed per day. “But people from all over the world are reaching out, and we’re trying to grow to respond to demand.”  As such, Petite Mort will be moving to a larger retail space post-holiday season, she says.

Paquin’s current favorite piece? A $1,500 raccoon neck muff. The designer says she loves any stares (or feels) from passersby, because it gives her a chance to defend her product.

“I’m wearing roadkill, but you’re wearing petroleum,” she says, not-so-subtly jabbing the cotton-heavy chain stores that dominate fast fashion. “Is that any healthier? Is that any more humane?”