Vegan Fashion: Draw your own line

Words by Karen Bryony Rose

The Mainstream

It’s safe to say that veganism is no longer niche. Gone are the times when buying vegan food involved trips to obscure shops, where even then the range was limited.  These days supermarket shelves are full of plant-based fare and vegan-friendly alternatives. 

Although I don’t follow a fully vegan diet, there are days when I realise that all of my meals have been vegan without really trying. It seems easy to do since I enjoy cooking with plant-based ingredients. 

Where vegan fashion is concerned, however, it’s safe to say that many brands have been slower on the uptake. And personally, vegan-friendly fashion hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind either. 

Although, there is evidence to suggest that the tide is turning in the fashion world – or at least trying to turn. As more and more people embrace vegan living, it follows that they will seek vegan friendly options in all areas of their lives. And it’s this that is driving demand.

There are examples of big brands responding to consumer pressure. Last month M & S launched its vegan shoe and accessory range, much to the approval of shoppers. Similarly, Waitrose now offers “vegan tours” of more than 100 of its stores in response to rising consumer demand for cruelty-free alternatives.

Better on the animal

Although I don’t think I’ll be going vegan any time soon, I will more closely consider my buying choices when it comes to clothes and homeware. 

If recent trends are anything to go by, seeking out the ethical credentials of purchases will become easier as more and more consumers place demands on brands. It was reported recently that in her interview with British Vogue, Emma Watson checked the green credentials of everything she wore.  I believe we’ll see much more of this in the media going forward. 

The more I take steps to live a conscious life, the more my line in the sand shifts. I’ll no longer accept the easy, one-day delivery option when it comes to buying clothes, or buy without thought as to whether I really need an item. 

Where I draw the line on wearing real fur, however, has never changed – my line is firmly marked on that score. I have never, and will never, ever wear real fur. Ultimately, I believe that the fur looked better on the animal and with so many faux fur options, there’s no need to wear the real thing. This is one area in my life where I don’t wish to seek the authentic article!

Love the alternatives

Perhaps the average shopper finds it easier to adopt vegan principles when it comes to food because of the limited choice and affordability of vegan fashion? Or perhaps they struggle to find alternatives to animal derived fashion that fits with their values?

I own multiple pairs of leather shoes and handbags too, believing that they are made to last. The ‘vegan’ alternatives are often made of plastic, and are in many cases not as durable. The old saying buy cheap, buy twice applies here. 

Sometimes the alternatives are available from fast fashion brands. Is a synthetic pair of boots a good alternative, just because it may not be made of animal products? Is it ok to support fast fashion if the reason behind the purchase is considered?

I don’t think replacing all of my leather shoes is in the best interests of anybody, not least because throwing away doesn’t chime well with my pledge to reduce consumption in my life. A more sensible and conscious option would be to use my leather accessories until they wear out and then seek vegan friendly replacements. 

Live your own values

I may not be rushing out to shop the new vegan fashion ranges any time soon – even though the M & S vegan biker boots are gorgeous – but I will pause and think before I buy anything new. 

Where we draw the line is a personal choice. And our choices may shift the more aware we become of our impact on animals and the planet. However, living by our values will set us along the right path, and enable us to make decisions that are not only right for us, but also better for our planet. 

As always, think, question and buy wisely. Don’t mindlessly replace.

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