When most people hear the word “vegan”, the first thing that comes to mind is a diet free of animal products. But veganism isn’t just about what’s on your plate. It is a lifestyle dedicated to environmental principles and without cruelty and that includes fashion. The best way to clean your wardrobe in spring? Make it vegan!

Vegan fashion? Er, what?

In a nutshell, vegan fashion is fashion without animal exploitation. It means no skin, no wool, no fur or skins, no silk, no cashmere or angora (which come respectively from goats and rabbits). Although creating a fabric hasn’t resulted in the loss of animal life, there are concerns about suffering.

Saying no to this kind of exploitation doesn’t mean saying no to the vibes of “I feel nice today” when you check your dress in the mirror. The days of plastic similar to plastic are over, as more and more designers are creating clothing lines and accessories totally free of animals and avant-garde.

This includes Joshua Katcher, founder of Brave GentleMan, a vegan men’s clothing brand. For Katcher, the next wave of vegan fashion is about expanding terminology, not just clothing options. It relies on terms such as “future materials” instead of “eco-leather”.

“I think the language we use, like” fake “and” fake “, does bad service,” says Katcher. In addition, he adds: The materials he uses instead of leather or wool often outperform their animal counterparts. As for style, ‚Äúvegan fashion is not an aesthetic; it’s a method. It can be anything: it has to do with the materials you are buying, not the actual design. ”

Do synthetic fabrics not harm the environment?

Okay, yes, vegan fashion hasn’t always been environmentally friendly. The fur alternatives were generally made with plastics and the production often required aggressive chemicals. Furthermore, research is showing that washing synthetic materials releases microplastics (tiny plastic particles) into the environment, polluting oceans, drinking water and – ironically – animals.

But in recent years, vegan fashion has been changing. Many leather alternatives that once could have appealed to oil, the types of vegan fabrics historically used for shoes, bags or belts, instead use organic oils from organic cereal crops. Primaloft is creating a biodegradable and recyclable alternative. Several companies are making a skin-like fabric with pineapple leaves, orange peels or grape skins, all by-products from their respective agricultural industries.

Shoe soles made of recycled rubber; cork bags; organic cotton, hemp and linen: these materials are not only vegan, but also more environmentally friendly than older vegan alternatives.

Stella McCartney is making a partly corn-based fur alternative. Other companies are working on bacteria-based protein silk, without the need for worms or spiders. There are even companies that use mushrooms to create vegetable skin.

Many designers are also making progress in managing the lifecycle of their products, including reusing materials after their initial use.

9 places to find vegan fashion right now

Do you want to shop locally or support American designers? Here are some boutiques and brands that will make you feel comfortable in showing off a new outfit, the dahhling.

Herbivore Clothing – Portland, OR

A completely vegan store offering home-designed clothing with a message, plus accessories and more. (We personally love the “I’m the vegan option” buttons and pins.) @herbivoreclothing; herbivoreclothing.com

Brave GentleMan – New York, NY

A luxury shop and online boutique offering quality clothing and shoes for the discerning gentleman. @brave_gentleman; bravegentleman.com

MooShoes – New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA

A vegan boutique with cruelty-free and animal-approved shoes for men and women.
@mooshoes_nyc & @mooshoesla; mooshoes.com

The Vegan Outfitter – Troy, NY

A boutique of clothing, shoes, bags,
and accessories, including vegan leather jackets, for men and women.
@the_vegan_outfitter; theveganoutfitter.biz

Doshi – Southern California

A designer of vegan leather bags, belts and backpacks available online and at vegan retailers across the country. @doshishop; doshi.shop

Hiraeth – Los Angeles, CA

A totally animal-free line of ready-to-use women’s clothing and accessories that was co-founded by Rooney Mara and is transported by numerous retailers.
@ hiraeth.collective; hiraethcollective.com

White bags for rhinos – Austin, TX

Vegan leather bags and backpacks designed in Texas and Canada and available online. @whiterhinobags; whiterhinobags.com

Mink shoes – Los Angeles, CA

Luxury vegan shoes for women with heels, handmade in Italy and available in the company’s online store, The Glorious Boutique. @minkshoes; minkshoes.com

Tastemaker – El Monte, CA

Sustainable shoes for men and women, as well as wallets and belts without skin, available to order online and through selected retailers. @tastemakersupply; tastemakersupply.com

The fabrics of the future

Do you want cruelty-free fabrics that are even kinder to the earth? Try these materials by size:

  • leather made with plants such as pineapple, orange peel, mushrooms and cereals instead of petroleum-based products
  • down alternatives made from materials like recycled ocean plastic
  • fur alternatives made with natural materials such as corn
  • laboratory synthesized silk instead of spider silk or silkworm
  • natural and organic materials such as cotton, hemp and linen

I’m sold! How can I shop in a sustainable and vegan way?

“Consumers increasingly want to align their wardrobes with their values, and when more cruelty-free and sustainable alternatives hit the market, that choice becomes easier,” says PJ Smith, director of fashion policies at the Humane Society of the United States. . By shopping from brands that offer these choices, you will show companies that they can do well by doing good, he adds.

These days, vegan fashion can be found practically everywhere. * The easiest way to get started? Check the label on any clothing you are thinking of buying. Cashmere, angora and wool are sometimes present in knitted garments such as sweaters, and the down jacket is a popular filling for winter coats.

Other things to look for? Shoes can use animal bone glue. Leather bags or purses can have pullers or labels with a leather zipper. Jeans often have leather patches on the belt and straps and jewelry often also contain leather.

If you can’t say it right away, check out the company’s website. Many brands publish information online that reveals which of their products are vegan and which materials they use. If they don’t, ask. You will receive your reply and at the same time encourage them to expand their offers.

Ask the companies that produce vegan products also for the materials. For example, are they biodegradable? What happens at the end of their life cycle? Do they contribute to microplastic pollution? Are they produced with harmful chemicals? After all, choosing vegan alternatives means avoiding harm and suffering and we need to look at the big picture.

To make a positive impact and support change in the fashion industry, “See yourself as a city investor; every purchase you make matters,” says Katcher. “Support the brands with which missions you align.”

The personal approach to climate change

The climate crisis is never far from the front page news. But although we are aware of this on a global scale, are we aware of our personal contribution to global warming, as well as of the opportunities that each of us has to reduce it?

Enter UC Berkeley’s CoolClimate calculator for homes, schools, businesses and governments. Although the tool is scalable, we love the easy-to-use version for individual families. You can quickly calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of your home, transportation, food, goods and services, then create a customized list of ways to reduce your carbon footprint in each category.

Simple tips how to change your energy supplier or adapt your eating habits may seem like little potatoes, but the CoolClimate calculator determines exactly the impact that each action will have. You can make authorized and responsible choices for yourself and your family knowing that even if you can’t see the change yourself, it’s definitely happening.

– Laura Sugden

This article was originally published in the May / June 2020 issue of I live United States, under the title “Detox Your Wardrobe”.

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