Vegan fashion is clothing and accessories made from cruelty-free sources, i.e. no animal products were used in making the garments and gear, and no animal was harmed.
Why should I be aware of this?
- There are many cruelty-free and environmentally friendly options that are also attractive and trendy. Vegan fashion is no longer ugly looking shoes and ragged knit handbags.
- Nonleather products are readily available. Many department stores and shoe stores offer nonleather shoes, bags, and other products. In fact, many products that look like leather are actually synthetic (pleather).
- According to industry sources, the economic success of the slaughterhouse (and the factory farm) is directly linked to the sale of leather goods as the skins of the animals represent the most economically important byproduct of the meat packing industry.
Vegan fashion and environment
Leather products harm the environment and tanning prevents leather from biodegrading. Various types of dangerous substances, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of which are cyanide-based, are used to turn animal skin into finished leather.
Vegan fashion and health
The most disastrous consequences this noxious waste has is the threat to human health. The threat is caused by the highly elevated levels of lead, cyanide, and formaldehyde in the ground water near tanneries. Very high incidence of leukemia have been found among residents of areas surrounding tanneries.
All about vegan fashion
Wearing leather hurts animals, the environment, and the people who produce it. The only ones who benefit are the people who profit from the misery and suffering of others.
Synthetic materials are often the answer vegan fashion trend. They offer the best, most durable options. Imitation leather has come along way and is so much more comfortable. There are some responsible and environmentally concerned companies that are making headway in creating synthetic materials that can be made with environmentally sound practices and that can also be recycled. These materials are just not readily available for all uses yet. But they're being developed.
Leather from skin
When dairy cows’ production declines, for example, their skin is made into leather, and the hides of their offspring, calves raised for veal, are made into high-priced calfskin. Leather is also made from horses, sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs who are slaughtered for meat. Other species of animals are hunted and killed specifically for their skins, including zebras, bison, water buffaloes, boars, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes.
The leather alternatives
Instead of buying leather clothing and leather accessories such belts, shoes, and purses - Look for products made with natural or man-made fiber like cotton, hemp, linen, microfiber, ramie, pleather, and imitation leather.
Wool from sheep
Most of the world's wool comes from Australia, where tens of millions of sheep are routinely punched, kicked, and cut during the shearing process. Millions of sheep raised for wool in Australia are shipped to the Middle East and North Africa for slaughter. These animals are placed on extremely crowded, disease-ridden ships with little access to food or water for weeks or even months. Due to the grueling journey and extreme weather and temperatures many fall ill while others are smothered or trampled to death by other sheep.
When you buy wool products, it is likely that you are buying wool from sheep who were raised in Australia, and since most wool is routed through China for processing, product labeling rarely indicates where the wool originated.
The wool alternatives
Instead of buying heavy, wool socks and mittens, or expensive angora or cashmere sweaters, choose garments made with more light-weight and colorfast materials, like nylon, acrylic, polyester fllece, cotton, orlon, or synthetic shearling.
Silk and alternatives
Silk is the fiber that silkworms weave to make cocoons. To obtain silk, manufacturers boil worms alive in their cocoons.
Minks, foxes, rabbits, lynxes, chinchillas, and even hamsters used in fur farming are also raised on factory farms in small wire cages without clean water and proper nutrition. They suffer from stress, fear, illness, and insanity. Resorting to extreme forms of slaughter in order to keep the pelts intact, fur farmers will often gas, poison, or electrocute the animals.
The fur alternative is faux fur - made of acrylic, mod-acrylic, or polyester fibers. It is easy to find at most department stores and clothing shops.
What can I do?
Synthetic alternatives are easy to find and are often clearly labeled. You don’t have to go to specialty shops for them. They are also available at select discount department stores. Mainstream stores have become meccas for compassionate shoppers.
- Leather: Look for words such as “manmade leather,” “all-manmade materials,” “pleather,” and “synthetic”, under shoe tongues, on tags, and on the insides of belts and bags. If unsure ask the salesperson. The price should confirm the fact as these cost a fraction of what leather products cost.
- Wool, etc: Look for snuggly warm synthetic fabrics, such as polyester fleece, acrylic, and cotton flannel—they wash easily, keep their bright colors, cost less, and don’t contribute to cruelty. Tencel, a natural fabric made from wood pulp, is a breathable, durable, and biodegradable alternative to wool for men’s and women’s dress suits.
- Silk: Find humane alternatives to silk ties and other silk items—including such fabrics as nylon, polyester, rayon, Tencel, milkweed seed pod fibers, and even silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments—online and in stores for a fraction of the price of silk.
- Fur: Read labels to weed out cruel products. Cruelty-free faux furs made of plush modern synthetics are becoming easier and easier to find.
More on Vegan fashion
Veganism is a diet and lifestyle free from any animal products or by-products. Vegans refrain from eggs and dairy and sometimes honey. Any products made as a result of an animal being harmed are also off limits. This includes all apparel and accessories as well.
What can I do to help
When wondering in the stores or perusing online looking for new garments or accessories take a moment to think how how and what was used to create and distribute that article.
Also take into consideration the effects the production of the garment had on the environment. I encourage all consumers to research more about the companies and designers that they purchase their clothes from.
Quit the Fur and Leather
I am not saying "become a vegan", I am simply suggesting that you take a serious pause before decided to by leather and fur. Most pleather and faux looks and feels just like the real thing and could possibly save you some money in the long run.
Let others know what you have learned. Let them know about the environmental effects of tanning hides and slaughter houses have. Also, encourage them to be more concious consumers by doing more research on the practices that the retailers whom they shop.
Stella McCartney is the most high profile vegan designer. She is a vegan, herself.
- Animals Used for Clothing
- Vegan Fashion = Compassionate Threads
- Leather: No Friend of the Earth
- LA Times
- Stella McCartney Apparel
- 5 Myths about Vegan Fashion