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Vegan Fashion: A Comprehensive Guide for the Conscious Shopper

CEO Tinh Phung
Are you curious about vegan fashion, but find yourself overwhelmed by the abundance of information out there? It's time to cut through the noise and become a knowledgeable and conscious vegan fashion enthusiast. In this...

Are you curious about vegan fashion, but find yourself overwhelmed by the abundance of information out there? It's time to cut through the noise and become a knowledgeable and conscious vegan fashion enthusiast. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about vegan fashion, from understanding what it means to identifying vegan materials and finding sustainable alternatives. Let's dive in!

What is Vegan Fashion?

Vegan fashion encompasses clothing, shoes, and accessories that are free from any animal-derived materials. These materials include fur, leather, feathers, wool, silk, exotic animal skin, and hair, among others. By opting for vegan fashion, you can ensure that your style choices align with your ethical values. Vegan fashion also promotes the well-being of animals and contributes to a more sustainable and compassionate fashion industry.

However, it's important to note that not all brands claiming to be vegan are truly transparent about their practices. To ensure you're making ethical purchases, look for certifications such as PETA-Approved and The Vegan Trademark when shopping for vegan fashion.

Materials to Avoid for Vegans

As a vegan, it's crucial to be aware of materials that are derived from animals and should be avoided. Let's take a closer look at some commonly used materials in the fashion industry:

  • Leather: The leather industry is responsible for the slaughter of over 1.4 billion animals every year. Additionally, the production of leather involves hazardous chemicals that harm the environment.
  • Wool and Hairs: The wool industry is plagued by cruel practices, such as shearing that often leads to injuries and neglect of sheep. Various types of wool, including cashmere and angora, are non-vegan and involve animal exploitation.
  • Downs and Feathers: The extraction of downs and feathers from ducks and geese involves violently ripping them from live birds. This practice, known as plucking, is incredibly cruel and unnecessary.
  • Fur: The fur industry inflicts immense suffering on millions of animals every year. Animals on fur farms endure deplorable conditions and are often skinned alive. Additionally, wild animals are trapped and subjected to prolonged suffering.
  • Silk: Silk production involves boiling or gassing silkworms alive in their cocoons, causing significant harm and cruelty to these insects.

These are just a few examples, and there are other animal-derived materials like bones, horns, shells, hooves, beaks, and pearls that the fashion industry continues to use.

Surprising Vegan Fashion Pitfalls

A vegan fashion illustration

While navigating the world of vegan fashion, it's essential to be mindful of potential pitfalls that can mislead even the most well-intentioned shopper. Here are a few examples:

  • Clothes with Leather Patches: Denim and other clothes can still be vegan as long as they don't contain leather patches. Make sure to read labels carefully.
  • Vegan Leather Made with Non-Vegan Glue: Some vegan items, like shoes and bags, might still contain animal-derived glue. Always check the materials used in the production of the item.
  • Jewelry and Embellishments with Mother of Pearl: Pearls are not vegan-friendly. The process of obtaining pearls involves oyster exploitation and unnecessary harm to these creatures.

Remember, reading labels and conducting thorough research is the key to identifying truly vegan-friendly items.

Exciting Vegan Materials to Embrace

Now that you know what materials to avoid, let's explore the exciting world of vegan materials that can provide sustainable and ethical alternatives:

  • Plant-Based Leather Alternatives: Innovative plant-based alternatives, including Desserto, Piñatex, Appel Skin, and Vegea, offer luxurious and cruelty-free alternatives to animal leather.
  • Plant-Based Fibers: Materials such as lyocell, Tencel, organic cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo are affordable and sustainable alternatives to wool and silk.
  • Artificial Silk: Brands like Maylyn & Co. produce PETA-Approved vegan silk by combining recycled plastic bottles with Lotus fibers, creating a cruelty-free alternative to traditional silk.
  • Orange Fiber: This unique fabric is made from leftover orange by-products after the juice is extracted. It offers a luxurious and sustainable alternative to real silk.

These are just a few examples of the innovative vegan materials that are transforming the fashion industry. To learn more about sustainable and zero-waste fabrics, check out our comprehensive guide.

Is Vegan Fashion Sustainable?

While vegan fashion is cruelty-free, it's important to address its sustainability. Some common vegan fibers, such as cotton and plastic derivatives, can have a significant environmental impact:

  • Cotton: Conventional cotton production requires large amounts of water and relies on the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. Opting for organic cotton and sustainable alternatives like linen, hemp, and bamboo can mitigate these issues.
  • Plastic-Based Fibers: Polyester, nylon, and acrylic are vegan alternatives but contribute to environmental pollution. The production and washing of synthetic clothing release microfibers into the ocean, harming marine life. Choosing recycled fibers, like Econyl, can help reduce the negative impact of plastic-based fabrics.

To embrace sustainable practices within the fashion industry, it's crucial to avoid fast fashion and opt for recycled and environmentally conscious alternatives.

Navigating Vegan Leather

Vegan leather, also known as "faux" leather, comes in two main types: PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride). While these alternatives don't involve animal exploitation, they come with their own sustainability challenges:

  • PU Faux Leather Fabric: PU leather is made by applying a polyurethane finish to a base material like polyester or cotton. While it imitates the look of genuine leather, PU is made using chemicals that are not biodegradable and can contribute to environmental pollution.
  • PVC Faux Leather Fabric: PVC leather is similar to PU leather but utilizes polyvinylchloride. Like PU, PVC presents environmental concerns due to the use of non-biodegradable materials.

Instead of opting for plastic-based vegan leathers, consider exploring plant-based alternatives that provide the look and feel of genuine leather without the environmental drawbacks.

Must-Try Vegan Fashion Brands

Now that you're equipped with knowledge about vegan fashion, it's time to discover some remarkable vegan brands that prioritize ethics and the environment. Here are a few brands that have captured our attention:

  • Matt & Nat: This Canadian brand offers minimalist vegan leather bags, shoes, accessories, and outerwear.
  • Boody: Hailing from Australia, Boody specializes in minimalist bamboo activewear and loungewear.
  • Pixie Mood: This Canadian brand creates trendy and functional vegan bags and accessories.
  • Will's Vegan Store: Based in the UK, Will's Vegan Store offers a wide range of vegan footwear.
  • Angela Roi: This New York-based brand combines luxury and ethics with its collection of vegan handbags.

This is just a small selection, and many more vegan fashion brands exist to suit your style, location, and budget. Explore our brand directory to find the perfect vegan fashion brand for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions that arise when discussing vegan fashion:

Do you have to be vegan to buy vegan fashion items?

No, you don't have to be vegan to purchase vegan fashion items. However, supporting animal-friendly fashion aligns with promoting compassion and sustainability in other areas of your life as well.

Are "vegan" and "cruelty-free" synonymous?

While these terms are often used interchangeably in the fashion industry, it's essential to note that a product can be vegan but not cruelty-free. It's always best to double-check and ensure that the product is truly vegan and cruelty-free.

Can you buy secondhand and vintage clothes made with animal products if you're vegan?

The decision to purchase secondhand items made with animal products is a personal one. Some vegans choose to buy secondhand as a way to reduce waste and environmental impact. Consider your own principles and choose what feels right for you.


  • https://www.peta.org.au/action/leather-trade-investigation/
  • https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry/
  • https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/industry/
  • https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/
  • https://www.peta.org/blog/is-silk-vegan/
  • https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/animals-used-clothing-factsheets/wool-fur-leather-hazardous-environment/
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T#thats-because-both-the-jeans-and-the-shirt-are-made-from-a-highly-water-intensive-plant-cotton-17
  • https://bettermeetsreality.com/is-faux-leather-pleather-eco-friendly-sustainable-animal-friendly/
  • https://www.garrettleather.com/blog/how-do-faux-leather-fabrics-compare-to-real-leather/

Photo credit: Sunsetoned from Pexels