Spring is upon us, and it’s time to start planning your warmer weather wardrobe! One would think it’s challenging to find animal-free materials that still look fabulous, but if you take the time to look, there are actually plenty of options. Just as the plant-based diet has been going more mainstream in the past several years, so has the vegan fashion industry (although, maybe “industry” is not quite the right word yet). No more dowdy hemp clogs, boring canvas belts, or “This is all I could find!” cotton totes. You can definitely put together outfits that say “I care about animals. But I also like to not look homely.” Here are some tips to get you started!
Learn to Mix Pieces
A great strategy to adopt is learning to mix pieces from completely vegan designers with ones from non-vegan designers that happen to be made of cruelty-free materials (like a linen dress or cotton pants, for example). Many vegan designers focus on non-leather accessories like shoes and handbags. Only a few focus on clothing. It is your choice, of course, whether you want to support a non-vegan business by buying their animal-free clothing. I try to look at it like ordering the vegan burger at a non-vegan restaurant. I am showing the establishment that I am choosing an animal-free item, and they should produce more items like that because there is a market for them. Of course, it is much less (read: probably not at all) likely that a clothing company will look at the success of each item from the perspective of being “animal-free”, when compared to a restaurant that created a veggie burger specifically for vegan and vegetarian customers.
Look for Eco-Friendly Businesses
If you can’t find something at an outright green business, try to find the most eco-friendly options and patronize businesses that don’t use fur, or test on animals, and preferably veer at least somewhat towards being environmentally-conscious. Burberry’s use of karakul (also known as broadtail or Persian lamb fur) alone is enough for me to boycott/hate them, and no amount of cotton trenches will change my mind. Of course, one might say that there is no real difference between companies that use fur, leather, wool or any other animal derived materials, so it essentially comes down to a personal choice. Practically speaking, until many more vegan designers emerge, it is pretty difficult (and sometimes cost-prohibitive) to purchase items only from eco-conscious and/or vegan designers.
Learn to Minimize
Start looking at ways to minimize, not only our fiscal contribution to non-vegan companies, but to the entire manufacturing/consumerism cycle. Save up and invest in classic items you REALLY love and will keep for a long time. Don’t throw your shoes out— instead, take them to a cobbler. Buy items made of recycled, recyclable, organic, and/or compostable materials (yes, your cotton t-shirt, linen pants, and hemp tie can ALL go in the compost bin). Never buy PVC. Buy vintage. Shop on Etsy. Donate stuff you don’t want anymore.
THINK Beyond Yourself Before You Buy
Think of the animals, the factory workers, and the planet. Think about whether you want to support the company—vegan or not—you are buying your clothing from. Think about how long you plan to own the item and whether you really will wear it. Taking a moment to plan out and really consider what you are buying makes all the difference. And the more of us who do it, the bigger difference it makes.
And on that note, here is an outfit that may be worth investing in this spring (depicted in the image above). Who knows, you may already have similar items in your wardrobe. Sometimes all you need is a good re-shuffle of your closet. Stay cruelty-free and fashionable!
- Bassike organic cotton dot t.shirt, $110
- Gabriela Artigas Tiger Ebony and Ebony Cone Bracelet on Nimli, $60
- PetitOiseau Pimento Bakelite Hoop Necklace, $27
- 7 For All Mankind Josefina Lyocell Pants with Tie on shopbop, $169
- Melie Bianco Maurissa Carry All Messenger, $96
- olsen Haus Capri Recycled Faux Suede sandals, $120