Veganism is turning into a general movement of cruelty-free products. And the fashion industry is listening. You may have heard about alternatives to animal-based products like faux leather, but is faux leather vegan? Faux-leather products are on the rise with designers finding alternative ways to avoid the manufacturing process of leather and reduce one of the biggest polluters in their scene.
The number of full-time vegans – those who choose not to use any products derived from animals – is rocketing in the UK. The Vegan Society estimates that there were more than 600,000 vegans in the UK in 2018 – a number that has been steadily doubling every year since 2014. More than 250,000 people – a record amount – took part in “Veganuary” in the UK during January 2019, where participants adopt a vegan diet for the first month of the year.
Food is by no means the only focus of veganism. Materials such as leather, wool, and silk are out of bounds for vegans – so fashion and clothing are also a focus. For example, this ankle strap vegan gladiator sandal looks like any normal leather slip-on, but it uses materials that do not harm animals. In the three years from August 2015 up to September 2018, consumer insights company Hitwise reported a 39% increase in web searches for vegan fashion or vegan clothes in the UK.
In America, Vegan Fashion Week is dedicated to elevating ethical fashion globally.This 4-day event is designed to empower conscious brands and humans globally with an elevated platform for achievement, inspiration, and discovery.
The website tells us that this is a tribute to the animals & an ode to the end of animal exploitation in all forms. Produced and curated by creative director and animal rights advocate, Emmanuelle Rienda, this event is an experience where fashion meets activism with a deeply conscious twist. She creates experiences that inspire.
The launch of this historic event took place in the heart of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles in February 2019. The following days, guests had the opportunity to travel to the LA fashion district to experience a Vegan World at the California Market Center, witha curated selection of animal-free designer pieces on the runway, and a vegan lounge offering cruelty-free fashion, beauty, food and innovative alternatives sourced globally.
The global faux leather market is set to hit $85 billion by 2025, according to a 2017 report by business consulting firm Grand View Research (GVR).
The lower cost of producing animal-free fabrics is one of the factors driving the sector - along with the increasing number of consumers opting for animal-free materials. Technological advances in the quality of the faux leather materials are also playing a part in the sector's growth: "As textile technology is evolving consumer are preferring vegan fashion," says GVR.
As a result, fashion brands are seeing greater demand for stylish vegan accessories, including bags and shoes, which replicate the look and functionality of leather without the cruelty or sustainability issues of animal skin.
According to GVR's report: "North America and Europe are expected to observe moderate growth owing to the rising trend of adopting cruelty-free products.
"Moreover, animal rights laws in several countries have become a major hurdle for natural leather manufacturers. Growing awareness among consumers regarding animal killings mainly owing to the programs run by organizations such as PETA, PAWS, WWF, and others has played a major role in increasing demand for other alternatives.
"Furthermore, the supply-demand gap in the natural leather industry is another major factor which is responsible for manufacturers opting for artificial alternatives."
In addition, faux leather products are generally more eco-friendly than their animal-based counterparts - if the rights fabrics are used. PVC, which many companies use as an alternative, is considered to be the most toxic of all the plastics. It does not break down naturally, causing major problems for the planet.
To counteract this issue, eco-conscious fashion bosses are turning to a range of alternative options - including fabrics made pineapple, mushrooms, and even recycled bottles.
One of the most interesting recent developments in the vegan leather market is an alternative made from coffee.
Created by German company Nat-2, which was founded in 2007 by Sebastian Thies, the material is currently available in the form of two styles of sneaker - high and low tops.
The kind of coffee used in the production of the sneakers depends on what kind is the most sustainable to harvest.
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