A Guide to Vegan Fashion

Happy Veganuary! Are you going plant-based this month? One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable is to reduce your meat and dairy consumption, and that includes in your clothing.

As I’ve gone on about my food choices for years now, I thought it about time I create a guide to vegan fashion! It’s actually taken me a while to decide where I stand when it comes to vegan clothing: some of the materials are sustainable, some of them not so much. Hopefully this guide will give you an insight into this conundrum, and you’ll feel more confident when shopping for sustainable fashion – vegan, or not!

Which clothing materials are vegan?

In my guide to sustainable fabrics, I cover 14 different fabrics that I tend to look for when shopping for clothes. The vegan fabrics I recommend are:

  • Linen
  • Organic cotton
  • Denim (made with organic cotton)
  • Recycled nylon
  • Tree-based fabrics such as bamboo, lyocell, modal, tencel, rayon, and viscose
  • Hemp

I’ve removed silk, wool, and cashmere from this list as they’re all derived from animals, meaning they are not vegan, even if they are sustainable.

There are, of course, plenty of other vegan fabrics out there. However, many of these are made from oil (yes, the nasty black fossil fuel oil) and I imagine if you care about animals, you probably care about the planet too. Vegan fabrics I recommend avoiding:

  • Acrylic
  • Elastane (aka Spandex or Lycra)
  • Nylon
  • Polyamide
  • Polyester
  • Polyurethane
  • Sequins

All of these fabrics will release plastic micro-fibres when you wash them, polluting our waterways and ocean. So if you do own them (or sometimes buy them second-hand like me), I recommend purchasing a guppy friend bag* to catch these fibres, which you can then throw in the bin after each wash.

What is vegan leather made from?

While we’re on the subject of vegan fabrics, I also have to mention vegan leather. Vegan leather is essentially any leather-like material that doesn’t originate from animals. There are sustainable vegan leathers (made from rubber, wood, cork, apple, and even pineapple) and not-so-sustainable vegan leathers (made from PVC, PU, or another plastic-derived material).

In my review of Matt & Nat, I explained how PVC is to be avoided at all costs – Greenpeace and PETA have both spoken out against the use of PVC, as it requires toxic chemicals to produce and cannot be recycled.

PU is better than PVC: while it is still a plastic material, it is less harmful than PVC and can be recycled.

I’m of the opinion that vegan leather products made with PU in a fair and responsible way are a better option than animal leather products. There’s no cruelty involved, and they can be recycled. However, if I can find a more sustainable material, like pineapple leather (called piñatex) or cork, I’ll go for that.

In the above outfit, I’m wearing two of my favourite vegan leather pieces – my cork leather clutch bag gifted from Blackwood, who specialise in cork and wood leather bags, and my trusty vegan leather chelsea boots, gifted by Wills.

My Favourite Vegan Outfits

So, onto my wardrobe! When I started planning this post, I had to avoid a lot of my wardrobe, because I wear a lot of wool and second-hand leather (please don’t crucify me for this – I genuinely believe both are sustainable options). However, there were a lot of great vegan options in there too, so I’ve put together three different looks to showcase these, and also highlight a few different elements of vegan fashion.

The above outfit has to be my favourite of the three. The white one-shoulder top is from Lauren Lynn London, gifted by Brooks & Sharp. This piece is designed and made in London, and is so incredibly well-made, with a good lining and gentle shoulder ruffle.

I’ve tucked the top into my striped trousers, passed down to me by my sister, and paired the outfit with my black vegan leather heels from Koi Footwear (gifted).

Best UK Vegan Fashion Brands

If you’re looking to shop for vegan fashion this month (or anytime, really) here’s a list of my favourite UK brands creating animal-friendly fashion:

Antibad: Sustainable fashion, lingerie, and shoes designed without animals.

Beyond Skin: Vegan leather shoes and heels made in Spain.

Blackwood: Vegan leather pouches and clutch bags made using wood and cork.

Cotton & Push: Vegan lingerie made from organic and natural fibres.

Ferron: Vegan leather handbags in classic colours with soft curves and utility.

Hooves: Animal, vegetarian and vegan friendly footwear based in London.

NAK Fashion: PETA-approved luxury vegan shoes and sneakers.

Nudie Jeans: Where my favourite dark blue jeans are from. Ethical, sustainable, mendable and vegan.

OffDutyLDN: Vegan handbags and small accessories, registered with Vegan Society.

People Tree*: The mothership of sustainable and vegan fashion. From basics through to V&A print dresses.

Reformation*: LA-based sustainable fashion house creating vegan dresses, tops, swimwear and more – now stocked at Browns in the UK.

Rozenbroek: Vegan womenswear and menswear made sustainably in England.

Ruby Moon*: Sustainable swimwear made with vegan and recycled materials.

Shrimps: Whimsical high end fashion, with stunning vegan faux fur pieces.

Sonia Ayaz: Luxury vegan leather handbags made ethically.

Stella McCartney*: Luxury vegetarian fashion brand advocating against fur and leather.

Thought*: Sustainable fashion brand showcasing natural materials across their prints and patterns.

Votch: Vegan leather watches made using piñatex and other sustainable materials.

Watson & Wolfe*: Independent store for men’s vegan wallets and card holders.

Wilby*: Gorgeous vegan handbags made using cork, cotton and hemp.

Wills Shoes: Stylish vegan leather shoes made in Europe. It’s where my boots are from!

Animal-Friendly Fashion Brands

While we’re here, I also want to highlight a few animal-friendly fashion brands in this guide. Veganism is often tied to animal welfare, and if there’s a way to support animals through fashion, well, what could be better!

Animals Facing Left: Ethically-made vegan fashion with 10% of proceeds going to World Animal Protection.

Boodi Jewellery*: Ethical, positive jewellery, with 10% of sales going to animal welfare charities.

Critically Endangered Socks: Socks that support the world’s most endangered animals.

Kay Reed Jewellery: Recycled jewellery featuring organic designs and supporting conservation charities.

Pangaia: Cruelty-free, ethically-made clothing. My gifted elephant t-shirt is part of their limited edition range with 100% proceeds going to conservation of the animal printed!

Want to know more?

Vegan Style book by Sascha Camilli

I’m by no means an expert on vegan fashion – but I do know a few people who are!

If you’re looking for more vegan fashion inspiration, I recommend reading Sascha Camilli‘s book, Vegan Style*, which details how to go vegan across fashion, beauty, home and travel. (Plus you can get 20% off vegan books at Waterstones* this month with the code: PLANT20)

Also make sure to give my vegan friends Marta Canga, Immy Lucas, and Sara Steele a follow on IG!

Disclaimer: This post contains gifted items (denoted 'gifted') and affiliate links (denoted '*')

2 Comments

  1. Antonia
    February 2, 2020 / 1:27 pm

    Hi Besma,thanks for doing such a useful blog it’s really helpful I’ve just become vegan and need the help navigating stuff.I’m 56 and wish I’d done it years ago although mostly vegetarian I could never quite make the leap but im so glad I have .Its great to know there’s people like you around to help.Keep up the good work and thanks again x

    • besma
      Author
      February 2, 2020 / 5:51 pm

      Thank you for the delightful comment Antonia – I’m so happy to hear you found the guide useful! I promise there’s more guides to come!

      B x

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