Vegan Materials Becoming More Prominent in the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry has always been a key area for vegan activists to target in order to help improve animal welfare and rights, while also improving the industry standards and environmental impact as a result of switching to vegan fabric alternatives.
There is an array of materials used in the fashion industry that are sourced from animals from silk, fur, feathers and cotton, to the most famous of them all, leather.
Many in the vegan world are campaigning to remove animal products entirely from the industry, and as veganism grows throughout the world, many fashion brands are (and rightly so) changing direction with regards to the fabircs that are being used in their products.
Take vegan fashion designer Tom Ford for example; Tom Ford is now cutting back on its use of fur and leather in its ranges in order to improve its footprint on the agricultural industry. Tom has referred to the film ‘What the Health’ as for his reasons for switching to a vegan diet personally, and how the brands strategy has been influenced by his personal decisions.
There are plenty of brands out there that are also switching to vegan alternatives. For example, Stella McCartney now uses a vegan fur alternative that looks just as good as animal fur, if not better. Additionally, high-street fashion designers Topshop, Zara US and H&M are all providing vegan fur alternatives in a bid to also improve their agricultural footprint while also targeting and retargeting audiences that are or have now turned to veganism within their daily lives and diets. But why is this import?
The Importance of Vegan Materials
First and foremost, the main reason why using vegan materials in the fashion industry is a better alternative is down to animal rights and welfare. The Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2006 in the hope that animals would be protected from cruelty and animal owners would be reprimanded for improper conduct towards these sentient beings. However, not enough is being done to fully remove the use of testing on animals and using their materials for fashion materials.
The UK has the toughest animal testing regulations in place and UK wholesalers are becoming more active in not purchasing products that are violating the Animal Rights Act. This is a step forward, but isn’t perfect – mainly because animals are still used for fashion products, so regardless of the conditions they live in, the ultimate goal is to use them further down the line, and this is where activists are not happy with the fashion industry generally and are taking a stand for more animal rights.
In 2015 and 2017 both of the main UK political parties proposed policies to help improve animal welfare generally. Depending on the party, these included; ending the badger cull, removing wild animals from circuses, encouraging other EU countries to follow in the UK’s footsteps and lead the fight against animal cruelty worldwide.
Additionally, with the use of social media, more and more activists are finding places to increase the reach of their messages and mission to remove animal cruelty worldwide, which has led to an increase in vegan activists, veganism globally and a need for fashion brands to take notice and improve their product lines as a result.
Vegan Materials Look Great
Vegan fashion materials might initially get a bad rap, but when seen in the ‘vegan-flesh’ they look great. Take Stella McCartney’s vegan fur for example; perhaps only fur experts would be able to tell the difference between the animal fur and the vegan substitute. As a result, the fashion industry can replace animal materials with vegan alternatives without impacting sales margins and a products aesthetics.
Additionally, materials such as vegan leather are easier to colour and tone – meaning you can get additional colours that will match your outfit more closely than leather, while appearing to look and feel like leather. The colour palette for vegan leather is so vast, you can find nearly every tone in the Pantone colour chart! However, this process isn’t as easy as using real leather and so crafters of vegan leather can often find this a little confusing at first!
That being said, it shouldn’t deter brands away from using vegan leather. This is a material that will be a common practice to use in the future.
There Are Now Vegan Alternatives for Most Animal Materials
As the fashion world develops, so too does the scope for more and more vegan alternatives. For example, it might not be common nature that organic cotton is now being grown and having a much better impact on our ecosystems due to the way it is sourced.
Additionally, seaweed, yes seaweed is being sourced and used to design fashion garments. The plant is crushed, ground and merged with cellulose fibre to incorporate into a fashion material that is solely vegan. There are also health benefits from using this product too! Down to the algae within seaweed it is believed cell regeneration is activated and the skin can be re-mineralised, whilst not having the ‘itchy’ impact wool has.
You can also use everything from linen, wood, rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate), soy, vegan leather, and of course, the vegan favourite – hemp. These are the materials big brands who are focusing on vegan products and ranges are looking to utilise in order to ensure they’re improving animal welfare and looking out for their customers.
Kuma Design uses vegan leather to help look after animal welfare along with adhering to UK standard rules and regulations on animal rights. It’s something that should be common practice across the board – you don’t need animal materials to make a fashion statement anymore!
Vegan Materials are Just as Durable
A wide misconception is the sustainability and durability of vegan products long-term. After all, misguided minds believe that if a product is made from a plant, it must be as weak as one! Vegan leather is in fact widely regarded as just as long-lasting and durable as traditionally used leather.
Therefore, when considering a leather product, by just tweaking the mind to look at vegan alternatives you can find a durable, very-stylish and environmentally friendly vegan alternative for a fraction of the price, which leads us to our next point.
Impact on the Environment
It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt. That’s astounding! That’s enough water for you to drink for two and a half years. According to the World Resources Institute, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of the worlds water pollution! That’s 20% of animal life and homes destroyed from the fashion industry alone.
Furthermore, with factories based in Asian countries, fashion products are still made using coal-fired electricity, which has an impact on our carbon footprint globally.
Vegan activists also believe that the world’s deforestation is taking place as a result of the fashion industry. This is due to the sourcing of unsustainable fabrics within the fashion industry. It is also believed that textiles contribute to at least 5% of all landfill waste!
Moving Forward with Vegan Fashion Alternatives
As the myths are busted and more brands continue to delve into a vegan based product line, expect to see a far less harsh impact on the environment, stronger animal welfare and vegan fashion accessories and garments which have developed to look just as good, if not better than the animal alternative.
Next time you’re looking for something in particular, ask you yourself – is there a vegan option I could take a look at?