With the rise of the vegan movement – thanks, in part, to easily accessible online documentaries and the connectivity of like-minded individuals through social media – consciousness about the treatment of animals has been elevated like never before. Some people feel as strongly about *all* animals as they do about their own dog or cat.
Due to this and many environmental issues, the fashion industry has felt increased pressure, in the last decade, to provide sustainable clothing options that do not use animal materials of any kind.
Though some were skeptical these pieces could still be considered “fashionable,” vegan and cruelty-free designers have been stepping up to prove that looking good doesn’t have to come at a cost.
Faux fur has been on the market for as long as animal activists, so it should come as no surprise that many major retailers (such as Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and JCPenney) carry only the faux versions in their stores — allowing for a sigh of relief from shoppers worrying about accidentally purchasing the “real deal.”
Of course, as the weather cools and we start shopping for a new warm coat, some worry that faux fur (and man-made stuffing) will not provide the same protection designed by Mother Nature to keep animals warm and dry.
While faux fur lacks the water-shedding and double-coat that genuine pelts naturally offer, designers are often conscious of this and aim to compensate by adding thicker layers of fleece to keep us toasty during the chillier months. Vegan coat wearers are no more prone to getting a case of the “shivers” than their pelt-wearing counterparts.
Another common complaint of those trying to switch over to kind clothing is shoes. During autumn and winter when leaves and snow cover the ground, shoes on the market tend to feature leather and suede, marketed as the only way to keep your little piggies warm and stylish.
Good news! There exists a vegan option to make your footwear as coveted and cozy as the “real thing”: cruelty-free suede. Typically made from synthetic materials that mimic their genuine predecessors, this option so closely resembles real suede many have trouble telling the difference.
Companies such as Vegetarian Shoes out of the United Kingdom (though retailers in the US — like MooShoes — do carry the brand) specialize in creating fashionable footwear that does not sacrifice warmth or style, proving itself as a viable option for animal-conscious shoppers in need of a new fall flat.
Of course, coats and shoes are only half the battle, as there’s a lot more to you than just feet and torsos. Though many clothing items (such as dresses and shirts) are naturally vegan due to their reliance on cotton, some savvy shoppers want larger retail stores to carry more accessories made with the well-being of our fuzzy, feathered and scaled friends in mind. As with shoes, it can be difficult to find handbags made from faux leather, but retailers such as Free People (who have six locations across Canada) offer a wide array of vegan shoes, bags, skirts, vests and even make-up brushes to help decorate any look with a kind twist.
For those looking for more “activist” inspired wear, then websites such as Etsy boast a wide array of vegan designers from across the globe who create “merchandise with a message.” If you’re interested in promoting cruelty-free clothing that features everything from t-shirts depicting whimsical avocados printed on organic cotton, to simple graphic shirts with empowering messages written on the bust, the vegan fashionistas of Etsy have something for everyone, and with every price-point in mind.
With kind clothing fashion, you can feel fabulous – and friendly.