There is a huge array of online stores that specialise in ethical, sustainable and vegan fashion, so you will learn a lot just by browsing. Passionate vegan Clea Grady encourages us to shop consciously, and shares some advice about finding the best ethical fashion.
Type ‘vegan fashion UK’ into Google and you’re almost overwhelmed by the results! Via websites like Well Made Clothes, Rêve En Vert and Mamoq, you’ll quickly discover that ethical choices are up-to-the-minute, fashionable and plentiful.
Many of these sites have search functionality that allows you to filter products by ‘vegan’, but even those that don’t should have all information recorded in the product description.
Where high end goes, the high street will follow so it’s worth keeping an eye out for what’s happening on the runways of Paris and New York. Even if you’re not a dedicated follower of fashion, it’s heartening to read about the forward-thinking developments in this world. After all, designers set the trends and can generate massive positive publicity on account of their name alone.
Stella McCartney is a good one to have on our side: a long-time animal advocate, Stella has never used leather or fur and openly shuns any sort of animal skin and feathers. In doing so, her brand’s stance is that they are ‘proving it is possible to create beautiful, luxurious products that are better for everyone – animals, people and the environment’.
Not all materials used in Stella’s designs are vegan (yet), but there is a Materials and Innovation section on stellamccartney.com, where you can read about how they source materials and explore new options. They’re developing new ways of creating silk, for example.
Leaving out the leather
After only a little research, you’ll see that fashion technology is a big thing. Vegetarian leather has commonly been made from PVC or polyurethane, but these materials are being developed and improved all the time so that their production is more environmentally friendly.
Stella uses a version called alter-nappa for shoes and bags (which has a much lower footprint), but is already looking into ‘lab-grown leather’ as a better option. These new faux leathers are plant-based and innovative by design, with some already being engineered from cork, kelp, pineapple and even mushrooms.
Obviously, you’re not going to see these products popping up in Top Shop next week, but if the big name brands are making waves, then their ripples will reach us soon enough. In the meantime, we still have the luxury of choice and you’re likely to become a more informed shopper than you ever were in your non-vegan life.
My final tip is to look for lists – lots of fantastic websites have done the hard yards so you don’t have to. You’ll find links to vegan-friendly fashion designers, shopping portals, brands and stores in all sorts of places; from Farm Sanctuary to Vegan Food and Living and PETA. Don’t forget to ask questions and swap tips and knowledge within our community as well, whether that be online or in person – you’ll pick up some of the best and most reliable information from the people you know.
Going vegan is an adventure and a joy, so regard any gaps in your knowledge as opportunities for discovery. You’re not expected to know the intimate production details of every shirt you buy, but if you mix research with a healthy dose of common sense, then you’ll find a balance that works for you. Making vegan choices feels good, and it’s a lucky thing for us that it can now look good too!