You may have never thought about the fact that some clothes aren’t vegan.
Unfortunately, certain materials come from a place of animal cruelty. Some common ones are leather, silk, wool, suede, fur, skin, cashmere, angora, down in coats, and pearls.
These materials can be:
- A by-product of the meat/dairy industry. For example, a cow is killed for meat and then the hide used for leather.
- From an animal that has been specifically killed for that purpose. Minks are often bred and farmed for fur.
- From an animal that hasn’t died for the product, but is living a cruel life. Industrial sheep-shearing is fast paced and can result in lacerations, other injuries, abuse, stress and ultimately an early death.
Leather is an especially destructive material, as it also damages the environment with toxins produced during the tanning process.
In a nutshell, it’s better to only buy clothing that is confirmed vegan. For example, you may think shoes are cruelty-free as they’re not leather, but some use glue made from boiled bones or tissue. Clothing made from unconfirmed materials are a big no-no. Just like with toiletries and cosmetics, Google is your friend. Somebody may have already asked the company if any of their products are vegan, so it can save you the time researching and enquiring yourself. Certain fashion websites also have a vegan filter, such as Skechers shoes.
There is also the topic of ethical fashion. Ethical clothing isn’t necessarily vegan, but fabrics are made/sourced in a sustainable way, and workers are given a fair wage and good working conditions. Many vegans prefer their clothes to be both ethical and vegan – we care about human rights and the environment too! However, these clothes are often more expensive, so just do what you can and consider supporting ethical companies when you are financially able.
That’s why one of my absolute FAVOURITE ways to source clothes is from vintage or second-hand shops. Not only are these clothes cheap, but we are also reusing materials, and proceeds often go to local businesses or charities. Win-win-win! You just need to be willing to have a rummage and check with the owners where they source stock from.
If you’re in a pinch, high street shops often stock vegan clothing without advertising it. Check labels – ‘wool’ jumpers can actually be synthetic, and leather fake too. In actual fact, synthetic leather is usually cheaper in price, so try to stay savvy when out shopping!
Some common vegan materials on labels are: pleather, synthetic leather, man-made leather, linen, spandex, polyester, cotton, nylon, hemp, cork, acrylic, canvas, bamboo.
But what if you’d rather buy from new?
Some of my favourite vegan AND ethical clothing stores are:
- Wills Vegan Shoes – their products are of a very high
quality.They make shoes and accessories for adults and children.
- Bourgeois Boheme – pricey but great quality – and they do have a sale section!
- HeartCure – great for statement yet classy designs, plus 100% of profits go to an animal sanctuary.
- Alice Vandy – one for the ladies. Bold, unique designs that won’t go unnoticed at a party!
- Willowknd – cute clothes for babies and children. They are cruelty-free and organic.
- People Tree – a great selection and sale section, hooray!
- Thought – they have a great vegan section and use a range of fabrics too. Find men’s, women’s, accessories and gifts here.
- My Vegan Clothing – get on board with a lesser known and affordable brand. My Vegan Clothing uses manufacturers that are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, they eliminate chemicals and use water-based inks. Perfect for the ethical consumer and sensitive skin! They also offer 10% off your first order.
- Online sites such as eBay, local selling pages, and Etsy for vintage or second-hand clothes from ethical stores.
Bonus tips for buying vegan clothing:
- Double check older and vintage clothing – it’s more likely to contain animal products.
- Real fur FEELS like hair and has a direction of growth. Faux fur is sewed in rows, feels like a rug, and often has a fabric backing to it. Go and cop a feel!
- Don’t forget accessories and small details. Handbags can be made from skin, and hats can be real fur, for example. There’s also fur trims, leather labels on jeans, and buttons made from shells.
- Plan out purchases, and invest in quality if possible. That way, you buy long-lasting clothes with less of an environmental impact, and have time to ask the manufacturer any questions about unclear labels.
So what do you do if you already have leather, silk or another animal product in your wardrobe?
To be honest, everyone is different. Some people, once transitioned to veganism, feel repulsed by the smell and idea of things like leather. In that case, they get rid of them. If you feel the same, you can give them to people in need such as homeless shelters or charity shops. Others shred them so they are out of circulation completely.
However, there are quite a number of people who carry on making use of their existing clothes until they no longer have a purpose. Some feel it’s disrespectful to the animal to throw it away, when they lost their life for it. It could also be more damaging to the environment when you think of the time, water, resources and transport miles that go into producing clothes. Whatever decision you make with regards to your old clothing, it doesn’t make you any more/less vegan.
That’s your basic guide to starting to buy vegan clothing!
Any questions? Do get in touch.