It’s trendy, sustainable, cruelty-free and eco-friendly. That’s probably why these days more midlife women are turning to veganism when clothes shopping. In fact, veganism isn’t just about food: it’s a more ethical choice for people who realize that they have a role to play to save our planet.
Even if you don’t call yourself vegan in everyday life, you may still be tempted by vegan fashion for its sustainable approach. However, not all vegan products are created equal: when some brands might still use leather, wool, and other animal-derived materials, they cannot be called vegan at all.
From researching the latest plant-based materials on the market to ensuring that the entire manufacturing process is actually eco-friendly (chemical-free, organic, biodegradable, and derived from plants), here are a few things late bloomers should look out for when shopping for vegan clothes.
Check the garment label
Vegan clothing doesn’t include any of these materials: silk, leather, wool, cashmere, feathers or fur. If the clothes feature any kind of animal byproduct, they’re not vegan. Always check for the details and trimmings and look for the Vegan Trademark, the authentic international vegan standard managed by The Vegan Society; the charity that created the word ‘vegan’ back in 1944. That will ensure that each product meets the highest standards. PETA-approved vegan logo is also an extra warranty to ensure that what you’re buying really is animal-free.
Make sure ‘vegan’ means sustainable
Sustainable fashion aims to reduce the contribution of the fashion industry to the environment. So, when clothes shopping, look for transparency about the manufacturing processes, check where clothes are made and find out about their sustainable supply chains.
If an item meets the following four criteria – good quality, a clean production system, fair pay for employees, fair prices for consumers– it’s definitely sustainable. If you are not sure, refer to directories such as Good on You, CoGo, and Mochni, which include sustainable vegan listings from various brands, telling you whether that particular one has a formal animal welfare policy in place and how much transparency there is in its supply chain.
Look for vegan fabrics
Vegan materials, like cotton, linen, hemp, and the recent piñatex (the waste of pineapple farming), are the most popular vegan fabrics amongst late bloomers who have a conscious approach to clothes shopping. However, there are other innovative materials to appreciate that are not only cruelty-free but also really sustainable and often made using waste products such as: soybean cashmere or leather made from corn, apple leather (made from apple cores and leftover skin from apple harvests) or cactus leather, which is high quality and uses very little water to grow. Other vegan fibres include recycled polyester, spandex, lycra, ramie, bamboo, denim, nylon, rayon, microfiber, cork, acrylic, viscose, modal and TENCEL (a textile derived from wood pulp).
Know your brands
While not every brand might tick all the boxes, there are many of them which are getting better each year as fierce competition emerges in the eco-fashion space. According to Vogue, a growing number of luxury fashion houses like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and many others have announced a commitment to adapt to more ethical fashion practices by going fur-free, opting for eco-friendly and cruelty-free options. And high street brands such as H&M, Nasty Gal, Zara and New Look are on it, too. High-fashion designers, including Joshua Katcher of Brave GentleMan and Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of VAUTE, are also teaming up with manufacturers to create innovative, high-quality cruelty-free materials.
What’s more, brands such as Express and Gap Inc. carry silky items not derived from animals such as nylon, milkweed-pod fibres, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, polyester, and rayon are animal-free. Whilst WAMA Underwear uses hemp as an alternative.
When in doubt, check the Peta (the largest animal rights organization in the world) list directory. Whether you’re on the search for a stylish vegan handbag, cruelty-free faux-leather shoes, or ethical and chic outerwear, dresses, and jewellery, you can be sure to find many options to choose from there.