What is Vegan Fashion?
The definition of vegan fashion is pretty straightforward. It’s just clothes and accessories that are made without the use of any animal or animal by-products.
That means no fur, leather, wool, cashmere, silk, angora, and all the other animal-based fabrics we use in fashion. This includes bags, shoes, and all other accessories.
On a deeper level, though, vegan fashion can take on a personal form. You could be practicing veganism because you’re concerned about animal welfare or the environment. You could be doing it because vegan brands are usually more ethical and transparent.
Some vegans are okay with wearing their old leather shoes, while some choose to give them away. There’s no concrete way to account for each individual’s practices when it comes to vegan fashion.
That aside, let’s explore some of the reasons why vegan fashion seems to be growing more and more over the years. Additionally, for a more in-depth look, we recommend you also read this article by Puratium on what is vegan fashion.
Perhaps one of the prime reasons vegan fashion is growing in popularity is more conscious customers.
In the era of information, where anything you might need to know is just a click away, it’s much easier to learn—and be concerned—about what goes on in the world.
The more we realize how the fragile balance the world is in, the more we are urged to act in the ways we can. All of the following factors influence why vegan fashion is becoming more popular.
However, it is, arguably, the growing body of mindful consumers that most heavily influence the steady incline. Not to mention all the celebrities and influencers in the social media space actively advocating for better fashion choices.
A few decades ago, you probably wouldn’t be able to use the word vegan and have it mean something. There were minimal choices, and most couldn’t build an entire wardrobe out of just the vegan options available.
Today, however, so much has changed. There are now countless vegan fashion brands that have been making strides in the fashion industry. Some have been around for quite some time, while others are pretty new, still riding on filling the gap.
If you look at vegan brands’ rationale, mission, or why they started, you will see a common theme. Most of them found that there was a gap in the market they wanted to fill.
Despite opting for vegan fashion, the founders couldn’t find viable options for their leather shoes, wool jacket, or silk blouse. And through these gaps, numerous vegan brands were born.
Today, you can get vegan leather in so many variations. From admirable plant-based leathers to the less desirable cheap plastic leathers, options are steadily increasing as time goes by.
Greater variation and better availability could also be part of why vegan fashion has become more popular lately. It’s easy for something to go mainstream if it can easily slip into current trends unrecognized. And that’s what vegan fashion does.
More than just a testament to the vegan movement, vegan fashion today comprises beautiful and durable pieces that are just as good as their nonvegan alternatives.
Another reason vegan fashion seems to be thriving is that it’s the more sustainable choice (most of the time).
The textile industry is one of the world’s major polluters due to the chemicals, energy, and water used to process fabrics. On top of that, animal husbandry contributes to around 18% of our total greenhouse emissions.
Knowing the disastrous effects our clothing can have on the planet; it’s only reasonable to want the more sustainable option. Fortunately, most vegan brands advocate for sustainability as much as they do animal welfare.
Take note that not all vegan clothing options are sustainable. Cotton, one of the world’s most used fabrics, is still incredibly unsustainable when farmed conventionally. As such, many vegan clothing brands choose to go for its organic alternative.
Sustainability made this list of reasons why vegan fashion is growing more popular because vegan fashion brands are, more often than not, mindful brands. They care about their impact on the environment far more than they do the next dollar they earn.
It is this dedication to change that’s so important and relevant in today’s evolving fashion climate.
Ethical Fashion Choices
The fashion industry, especially fast fashion, is notorious for its unethical treatment of workers.
Low and middle-income countries make 90% of the world’s clothing. These workers experience plenty of occupational hazards at work, such as the lack of protective equipment and poor ventilation.
One of the most infamous events that show this lack of safety is the Rana Plaza disaster that killed more than 1000 Bangladeshi workers in 2013.
Now, vegan and unethical aren’t two mutually exclusive areas of interest. A brand being vegan doesn’t always mean they’re ethical.
However, circling back to the previous reason, vegan fashion is usually mindful fashion. Most vegan brands focus on creating more than just fashion, but also value for the environment, their employees, and their customers.
As people seek transparent supply chains and ethical factory conditions, vegan fashion is there to give them what they’re looking for.
Brand Leaders are Stepping Up
The sources of vegan fashion aren’t just 100% vegan brands. So many mainstream brands have also come out with vegan lines or collections—most likely pushing the vegan market forward.
Many major high fashion houses have now banned fur in their collections. Some have even gone so far as staying away from exotic leathers like alligator or snakeskin.
These changes that come from the top trickle down into how we think as consumers. And while consumer demand influences the direction fashion takes, trendsetters also make a difference.
There are undoubtedly plenty more ways that vegan fashion has evolved and grown over the last decade. The internet age mixed with growing consumer concern are only some parts of a whole.
Regardless of the reasons, it remains true that vegan fashion has steadily grown and will continue to do so in the near future. The global vegan women’s fashion market is even expected to grow more than 13% CAGR from 2020 to 2027.
Taking part in this change doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire wardrobe. Slight differences like avoiding leather purchases or buying more sustainable cotton will already make a world of difference.