Embracing a vegan diet is only the starting point of your journey. Once you are comfortable with making this transition, you will need to turn your attention to the next step: dressing vegan. Interestingly enough, many people find vegan fashion to be trickier than eating!
When you think about it for a moment, this becomes easier to understand. Vegan food is easily identifiable and readily available. Vegan fashion, on the other hand, is still finding its legs in the modern world. If you are genuinely committed to your new lifestyle, though, this is what you need to know:
What is Vegan Fashion?
The same rules that apply to your diet are relevant for your fashion choices as well. In short, vegan fashion is clothes, shoes, or accessories made from materials that are free from animal components.
In vegan fashion, all the clothes and accessories you would have to wear is either plant-based or synthetic materials. There would have to be NO “Genuine *blank*.
The Materials You Need to Know About
Animal fibers are the second most common materials used in clothing. The problem, though, is that you probably aren’t even aware that you wear these fibers. Or, you continue to purchase them because you have been misled about how they are made.
Well, here is a breakdown of the most common animal fibers and how they are obtained:
Leather can come from the skin or hide of virtually any animal. However, the most common source is the cow. It is important to remember that while leather may be a by-product of slaughterhouses, the cows raised for this purpose have often been housed in terrible conditions.
Luxury brands have also been known to sadly use the skin of deer, seals, alligator, crocodile, snake, and more. The methods for retrieving these kinds of leather are often incredibly cruel. Not to mention, the tanning method used to make leather products is harmful to the environment.
There are actually several forms of wool. The most popular is sheep wool. However, clothes can also be made from goats (cashmere and mohair), rabbits (angora), and alpacas. Unlike some of these other fabrics, wool doesn’t involve the killing of the animals.
While this makes it seem like a more vegan-friendly material, this isn’t always the case. Most of these animals are bred in cramped and dirty conditions. Furthermore, they are often sheared quickly and without care, resulting in various injuries to the animals.
Down can be retrieved from birds in one of two ways. The first method involves plucking dead birds. The second is where live birds are physically restrained and then plucked while they are still alive. Sometimes, this can happen two or three times during the birds’ lives.
Although the first method may seem milder, it isn’t by much. As with all of the other animals on this list, the birds that produce down spend most of their lives in cages. They experience very little freedom and are treated rather poorly as well.
Silk is obtained from silkworms. These worms spin a cocoon around themselves made from silk. Each worm is capable of producing around 1.5 miles of silk. However, farmers wish to extract the silk without cutting any of the threads. To do so, they either boil or steam the cocoons, killing the worms inside.
Fur, too, can come from a wide variety of animals. They can be obtained from bred animals such as rabbits, foxes, minks, lynxes, and chinchillas. There are also animals that are trapped in the wild. These include wolves, otters, and coyotes.
Regardless of the methods used, these animals undergo fear and pain before they are killed for their fur. Not to mention, there are “non-targeted” animals that also end up in traps. These creatures are discarded as they are of no use to the fur industry.
Vegan Alternatives to Traditional Materials
The great news is that there are so many vegan alternatives to select from when you decide to change your fashion demands. Here are some of the options you can look for instead:
- Leather Alternatives: some of the top substitutions include imitation/vegan leather, pleather, Kydex, and Lorica
- Wool Alternatives: there are numerous options for wool alternatives such as organic cotton, hemp, Tencel, linen, soybean fiber, and bamboo.
- Down Alternatives: if you want to stay warm in the winter without the help of down, there are many synthetic choices. These include but aren’t limited to Primaloft, Thermal R, Omni-Heat, and Cocona Insulation.
- Silk Alternatives: if you crave the soft texture of silk, there are many humane varieties as well – Ahimsa (Peace) silk, synthetic spider silk, Art Silk, and Ramie.
Finding Vegan Clothes
As you can imagine, one of the biggest obstacles you may face is actually finding vegan clothes. After all, most manufacturers aren’t too forthcoming about how their clothing items are made.
The easiest way to be certain you are purchasing vegan fashion is to only buy from brands that are 100 percent vegan. These manufacturers use only plant-based and synthetic materials in their clothes as well as shoes. Thus, they are the most reliable.
Vegan fashion is becoming more popular, however. For instance, a number of luxury brands have pledged to stop using fur. Powerhouses like Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, John Galliano, Burberry, Versace, and DKNY are just some of these brands.
There are other companies that offer a few vegan clothing items every now and then. However, make no mistakes, these brands are not wholly vegan. For instance, while the famed Stella McCartney brand does offer vegan accessories, it isn’t a vegan brand. The company does use wool from “animal-friendly wool farms”.
So, you will have to be careful about what you buy from them. Not to mention, you may have to wrestle with the fact that these manufacturers are involved in certain inhumane animal practices as well.
Tips for Clothes Shopping as a Vegan
Let’s take a look at some tips for shopping for clothes as a vegan.
- Always check labels: since you have already started eating vegan, checking labels will have become second nature to you by now. When it comes to fashion, you need to know what your clothes, shoes, bags, and more are made of. The label will help you out here.
- Watch out for blends: an easy thing to miss out on is “blends”. This is when two or more materials may be mixed together. So, you should always check that your vegan material isn’t mixed with any fabric or fibers that are derived from animals.
- Focus on small details: it is important to keep in mind that a single clothing item can be composed of many different fabrics. Sure, most of that shirt might be vegan, but what about the sleeves? To get genuinely vegan products, you will have to identify where each aspect of the clothing item or accessory came from.
- Pay attention to sustainability: you should know that vegan and eco-friendly are often not synonymous. However, at the end of the day, you need to be certain that your clothing items are environmentally friendly as well. So, do a little research into how the clothes are made before you go on that shopping spree.
Following Vegan Fashion Blogs
Do you want to cut down on the amount of work involved in being a vegan fashion icon? Well, this is easier than ever before, thanks to all the vegan fashion blogs that have cropped up in recent times.
Since you don’t want to be too trusting, always verify what these bloggers are saying. Are the brands they promote truly vegan? Are they eco-friendly and sustainable as well? Once you have clarified these points, it can be simply a matter of following their lead.
The Dilemma of Your Old Clothes
Buying vegan purchases in the future is all well and good. But what about the non-vegan clothes and shoes currently in your closet? What should you do about them? These are questions that many people have to face.
Well, this is entirely up to you. In a perfect world, you would be able to throw away, sell, or donate all of these items and buy new ones. Of course, this isn’t financially feasible for most people. Furthermore, many of these items may have sentimental value attached to them as well.
If you can’t bear to part with what you currently have, then wearing them until they fall apart may be the more sustainable route. Then, you can begin to build your new wardrobe, piece by piece.
This is what you need to know about vegan fashion. There is no denying that there is quite a bit of information to digest here. Not to mention, when you do decide to adopt vegan fashion, you could have your work cut out for you as well.
However, if you make the necessary changes to adopt vegan fashion, you can guarantee that your conscience will be lighter. Admittedly, this is worth more than all the designer duds in the world?
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