Vegan clothes are set to go mainstream in 2019 – here’s how ethical fashion became cool
As the UK vegan movement continues apace many shoppers are reassessing the contents of their wardrobes as well as their fridges
Vegan clothes and shoes are set to go mainstream in 2019 as many Britons start to reassess the contents of their wardrobes as well as their fridges.
With Veganuary and plant-based diets (and sausage rolls) in the spotlight, fashion-conscious consumers are increasingly seeking out clothes and shoes that are as animal-friendly as their almond-milk lattes and fake-meat burgers.
Las Vegas is to stage the world’s first Vegan Fashion Week next month, while in the UK, Marks & Spencer has announced a vegan footwear rangecomprising over 350 styles after observing online searches for vegan shoes and clothes jump by over 200 per cent last year.
How to make sure your shoes really are vegan
The best way to ensure your footwear is vegan is to check for the Vegan Trademark, the international symbol that guarantees no animal products, or animal testing on behalf of the manufacturer, The Vegan Society says.
Even when shoes aren’t made from leather or other animal products, some stores still use animal-derived glue in their product, made by boiling an animal’s connective tissue or bones, so check with the retailer before buying.
Cool to be kind
Some may argue the term “ethical fashion” has a whiff of self-righteousness about it, but millennials and Generation Z-ers, who have been credited with helping to drive the dramatic uptick in veganism, have deemed it cool to be kind.
Nine in 10 Generation Z-ers (people born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s) believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues, according to a recent report by the The Business of Fashion.
“Increasingly there are vegan customers who want to know what materials are in [their clothes, for instance] and not just what they’re eating,” the report quotes British fashion journalist Tamsin Blanchard as saying.
Stella McCartney ridiculed
Designers and brands are quickly jumping on the cruelty-free fashion bandwagon but not so long ago, it was considered faintly ridiculous, gauche, even, to consider animal welfare in the fashion industry.
“When I first started, I was made fun of for my starting point and the things that I was talking about,” Vogue has previously reported McCartney as saying.
“I was told that I wouldn’t have a business by people I worked with – I was ridiculed.”
Vegan movement not just a fad
It hardly seemed likely then that M&S would one day be following in McCartney’s footsteps – but now the retailer has, shoppers can expect the rest of the high street to be hot on its (vegan) heels.
Bean counters at M&S clearly view the vegan movement as more than just a passing fad, believes Laura Arrowsmith, who lectures in fashion business and promotion at Birmingham City University.
“We are becoming compassionate conscious consumers demanding not only ethical and sustainable produce but also transparency,” she says.
“There is now an enormous selection of cruelty-free natural and recycled fabrics to choose from such as soya bean fibre, bamboo and recycled plastics, so its seems obvious to create products that are environmentally and vegan friendly.”
Compassion in fashion
The M&S announcement has been warmly received by vegans and animal welfare advocates too.
“It’s great to see a mainstream brand increasing its vegan options and making it more accessible for people to buy clothing free from animal products,” Dominika Piasecka of the Vegan Society says.
“Consumers are recognising that fur, skin, wool and feathers are only ever ‘natural’ on the animals who were born with them.
“Compassion, sustainability and innovation are shaping today’s fashion industry.”