It’s of great comfort to us at Global Vegans that the Vegan fashion industry is booming. With everything from independent shops to international retailers embracing the benefits of animal-free fashion, it’s never been easier to dress head to toe in Vegan clothing!
This is a truly positive step. Whether you’ve been Vegan for 20 years or 20 days, you’ll know there’s much more to Veganism than avoiding meat, eggs and dairy. It’s a lifestyle, and one that requires you to evaluate and change your wardrobe just as much as your plate.
However, if you’re new to the world of Veganism (welcome!), you may need some extra guidance when it comes to finding animal-free clothing. To help you out, here’s our guide to what Vegans don’t wear and why.
Vegans Don’t Wear Animal Skin or Fur
Living a Vegan lifestyle means avoiding practices that exploit, harm and kill animals. This includes eschewing clothes that contain animal-derived materials, such as animal skin and fur.
Leather, including suede, is perhaps one of the most obvious materials to avoid when buying animal-free clothing, but many people don’t realise just how many species are exploited and killed for their skin. Cows don’t bear this fate alone; pigs, goats, crocodiles, snakes, ostriches and kangaroos are also skinned for jackets, bags, shoes and belts.
It is also no secret that the fur trade is one of the most inhumane industries in the world. Many species suffer as a result of this billion-pound industry, including mink, raccoons, foxes and rabbits. What’s also worrying is that many retailers have been caught selling real fur labelled as faux fur, which demonstrates the blatant lack of regulation within the trade.
As Vegans, it is our responsibility to ensure we don’t wear the skin or fur of animals - but these aren’t the only materials to avoid.
Vegans Don’t Wear Animal Wool or Down
Because animals aren’t killed before being plucked or sheared, it’s a common misconception that these materials are cruelty-free. Unfortunately, they are anything but.
The wool industry paints a picture of happy sheep, goat and alpaca lining up to have their heavy coats sheared as the summer rolls around. Yet, the truth behind this family-friendly tale is much less innocent. The animals are kept in poor conditions, subjected to a painful shearing process and trapped in a cycle of exploitation that only ends when they are sent to slaughter. Wool handlers are paid by the volume, not the hour, so they work quickly and aggressively. This means that every type of wool, including Merino, mohair, Angora, cashmere and shearling, is off-limits to Vegans.
Down is another animal-derived product that Vegans must avoid. Why? Because buying and wearing down jackets and winter coats means supporting an industry that relies on live-plucking. This barbaric process sees handlers pluck feathers from birds and ducks while they’re alive and conscious.
So, it’s not just skin and fur that Vegans need to be aware of. However, the fashion industry still relies on many animal and insect-derived products that often aren’t labelled clearly or generally acknowledged to be unethical.
Vegans Don’t Wear Animal or Insect-derived Products
Sadly, animal exploitation reaches almost every corner of the fashion industry. Although many of us can identify a leather jacket or wool jumper without difficulty, it can be challenging to source clothes that are entirely animal-free. After all, lots of fashion brands use animal and insect-derived products in their manufacturing process.
Silk is perhaps the most obvious example of insect exploitation in the fashion industry, with silkworms killed en masse to produce this so-called luxurious fibre. But, we must also be careful to avoid:
● Animal-based glue, which is produced from collagen and used as an adhesive for shoes and clothes;
● Animal-based dyes and inks, which are produced from insects and molluscs, such as cochineal and octopuses;
● Animal-based buttons, which are made using horn and bone.
These three products are truly sinister; not just because of the exploitation behind them, but because they make it almost impossible - without the correct labelling - to distinguish between Vegan and non-Vegan clothing. Although a garment may appear to be free from the more obvious candidates, it may still contain traces of animal exploitation and suffering.
We hope that the global demand for Vegan clothing will encourage all fashion retailers to label their products accurately and to clarify when a garment contains any animal-derived material. We’d also like to see a world where Vegans lend their support to animal-free retailers, putting their money into the pockets of brands fighting the good fight! If you’re not sure where to begin, check out some of our favourite Vegan clothing brands via our Vegan Directory.
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