Think buying vegan fashion is a hard ask? Honestly, it’s easier than you think. I put together a guide to shopping cruelty-free clothing for InStyle.co.uk, with the expert help of Sascha Camilli at PETA.
Vegan clothing is so good right now, it’s impossible NOT to shop it. Gone are the days when animal-friendly shoppers were stuck with hemp tunics and brown sandals. Now? Topshop, H&M and Zara are full of vegan clothing options, and they’re so easy to find.
We spoke to PETA to get their top tips on buying vegan clothing, so whether you need a refresher on exactly which fabrics are or aren’t vegan, or want some hints on how to tell if something is faux, look no further…
What Do I Need To Know?
Most vegan shoppers know that fur and leather are off the table when it comes to cruelty-free fashion, but there are a few other fabrics that you probably wont want to wear if you’re cutting meat and dairy out of your diet.
Is Wool Vegan?
Wool might not be the “haircut” that most people think it is, as shearers can be paid by volume rather than for their time, and sheep can get hurt. Shearling, angora, alpaca and cashmere are also off-limits for ethical shoppers, so try Vaute Couture for wool-free coats and jumpers instead.
Is Silk Vegan?
Silk is made from a fiber secreted by silkworms, and can be taken from them by force rather than recouped from their pods, so vegans steer clear of this fabric.
So What Can I Wear Instead?
There are so many amazing alternatives on the market, it’s hard NOT to shop vegan. As well as all the Charlotte Simone’s faux-fur stoles (all of Charlotte’s styles are available in faux, but she does sell animal-skin fabrics), fake shearling jackets, pleather trousers and faux-snakeskin boots you can easily buy on the high-street, fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, denim, rayon and microfiber are all animal-friendly, as well as good old polyester.
How Will I Know If It’s Faux?
First things first, the price is often a giveaway as to whether an item is made with animal materials or not. £25 biker boots on the British high street? Probably vegan. Although watch out for ‘cheap’ deals in markets and smaller stores, both in the UK and overseas. Secondly, read the labels. Thirdly, just ask! Your sales assistant should be able to help you out, and it also lets the brand know that there is huge demand for vegan clothing.
What Should I Watch Out For?
PETA have a few top tips for making sure your latest purchase is 100% vegan.
1. Some knits have that pesky 8% of wool in them (although you’ll be surprised at how many don’t)
2. Shirts and blouses can have a percentage of silk.
3. Some faux-leather shoes might have a leather insole, so check the symbols that can usually be found either on a sticker underneath the shoe or on a label inside the shoe. If all the symbols are a diamond shape, you’re good to go. If one or more of them looks like a cowhide, they contain leather.
Do I Have To Buy From Specialist Vegan Fashion Shops?
Nope! The high-street have so many vegan fashion pieces. Mango, Zara, H&M, Topshop and COS are great places to shop, while Urban Outfitters is good for sheep-free jumpers. Keep an eye out for vegan brands in department stores, like Fiorelli at John Lewis.
Where Can I Shop Online?
There are loads of vegan brands with their own websites, but ASOS is an absolute winner for vegans, as you can apply a ‘non-leather’ filter when shopping for accessories. They also stock vegan shoe and bag brand, Matt & Nat.
Aren’t Vegan Shoes Hard To Find?
Dr Martens have a vegan range of boots, while Beyond Skin, Bourgeois Boheme and Rombaut are specialist vegan brands. Matt & Nat and Vagabond have also launched new shoe lines in 2016. You also really need to check out these vegan shoes and bags in our shoppable gallery, which features vegan bag brands Labante and Wilby.
What If I Want To Go High End?
All the same rules still apply. There’s definitely a higher probability that products will be made with real animal skins and materials, but there are some designers who stay away completely. Stella McCartney is obviously a vegan’s dream. All their accessories are crafted from high-quality faux leather and the brand also recently launched fur-free furs. Speaking of faux fur, no one does it better than street-style fave Shrimps.