It’s cool to be kind and luckily enough, finding stylish animal-friendly vegan clothes has never been easier.
Once upon a time if you said the phrase “vegan clothes” we’d immediately think of a murky-coloured hemp sack, scratchy knitwear and clompy shoes. But now, that’s not the case. Whether it’s because of Beyonce, your health or the planets (or because of the cute helpless animals), veganism is a lifestyle choice on the rise.
Being vegan means more than denouncing the traditional Sunday roast and hangover fry-up. It means rethinking your entire wardrobe and the brands you buy from. Luckily, the fashion world has clocked that the vegan consumer market is growing at an exponential rate, so the options for animal-friendly shopping have never been so good.
Take for example San Francisco becoming the largest US city to ban the sale of fur, which has been made possible after a tsunami of labels at every tier of the industry publicly denounced the use of fur – labels like Versace, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Gucci, H&M, Inditex (Zara’s parent brand), Burberry and Marc Jacobs – to just name a few.
Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele told Business of Fashion that “fashion has always been about trends and emotions and anticipating the wishes and desires of consumers”, which gives us reason to hope that the future will be lined in faux fur. Vegan is now one of the most used words in fashion and it’s clear that today’s conscious consumers are extending compassion to all aspects of their lives.
Affordable vegan clothing
While Stella McCartney might be leading the way, finding vegan fashion at slightly more affordable stores is possible. However, it does require you to be clued up on what you’re really buying.
For starters, the concept of veganism is simple: avoid using, buying or partaking in any activity that exploits and uses animals. This means wool is out, cashmere is contentious and leather is a total no-go. That said, alternative animal-free fabrics are out there, you just need to look out for epithets like ‘faux’, ‘vegan’, ‘fake’ and ‘imitation’.
“High-quality animal-free leather is made from many different materials, including non-animal microfibers, recycled nylon, polyurethane (PU), and even plants including mushrooms and fruit. And bio-fabricated leather grown in laboratories is coming to a shelf near you soon,” explains PETA.
Watch the clip below to find out the foods that are accidentally vegan:
Shopping for vegan clothing requires relegating not just fur but cashmere, mohair, feathers, bone, shell, angora, exotic skins, silks, down feathers, shearling and wool to the reject pile. Sidestep animal-cruelty by looking for plant-based or man-made fabrics instead, like cotton, linen, polyester, acrylic and nylon.
Yvonne Taylor, director of corporate projects at PETA, explains: “Vegan fashion really is everywhere today… There’s an abundance of cruelty-free, synthetic and natural materials to choose from – including microfibre, linen, cotton and faux animal skins. This movement is also leading the way in developing innovative, eco-friendly materials – in the past couple of years alone pineapple leather, seed-fibre down alternatives, and fleece made from recycled plastic bottles have all come to the market.”
It’s a complicated world though, and while ethics are on the side of animal-friendly labels, that doesn’t mean their production methods, sustainability and ethical business practices are in check too.
For instance, cotton may count as animal-friendly but the harvesting of it does untold damage to the planet’s eco-system and context many animals live in. Producing cotton is thirsty work – it’s estimated that 40% of the world’s clothing is cotton and to make it requires 18% of the global pesticide and 25% of the world’s insecticide use. To craft this material, so much water is required that rivers dry up and local communities are under-provided for, plus the run-off from these pollutants leaves the local waterways that survive in a bad state of affairs.
“When you consider last year’s groundbreaking Pulse of the Fashion Industry report – which found that three of the four most environmentally damaging materials are animal-derived – shopping vegan means choosing kindness over harm to both animals and the environment,” adds Yvonne. “Leather was cited as the worst offender by far – its environmental impact was found to be twice as severe as that of polyurethane.”
So start Googling, pay a visit to the PETA website and get clued up, because forward-thinking shopping is within reach – it just takes some research.
Some of the best vegan clothing brands, shops and online stores:
ASOS | Amelie Pichard | Bead and Reel | Beet X Beet | Bleed | Bourgeois Boheme | Delikate Rayne | Filbert | Free People | Humanity | Keep Company | Kowtow | Le Buns | Love Child | Matt & Nat | Mud Jeans | Patagonia | People Tree | Plant Faced | Skall Studio | Tasi Travels | The Kooples | Thought | Thread Harvest | Threads 4 Thought | Urban Originals | Unicorn Goods | Unreal Fur | Vaute | Vegan Style | Vege Threads | Well Made Clothes