If you've grown up wearing materials like leather, wool, and silk, moving into a cruelty-free fashion wardrobe can feel daunting.
There are not many entirely animal-friendly clothing brands; however, if they are, they are often not environmentally friendly.
On the other hand, environmentally friendly companies often have expensive price tags on their products.
However, slowly but surely, more and more fashion houses are turning to better materials, not derived from animals, to create stylish garments that we just can't wait to get.
Vegan fashion is more than just acrylic and nylon. It's time to get educated on all the new options out there right now.
Vanita Bagri is the Founder and CEO at LaBante London, a brand producing luxury handbags and sunglasses.
The company, which is vegan-certified, focuses on using materials that are earth-friendly, as well as animal-free.
The brand uses Blue Star Premium Vegan Leather is specially sourced from recycled materials and other complex compounds.
They have PETA-Approved vegan handbags and sterling silver jewelry lines that sell in department stores and multiple boutiques across the world.
They have recently added a recycled wooden sunglasses line - complete in sustainable boxes their collection.
For years, the only cruelty-free options were PVC and PU leathers (known as "pleather"), but they aren't the best for the earth.
Lucky for us, there are so many plant-based leather alternatives being developed now.
Yes, banana leather. Unlike most fruit trees, which continue fruiting every season, banana plants provide only one crop of bananas.
So what should be done with these past-their-prime plants? Why produce natural banana leather, of course! It manages to be biodegradable, water-resistant, and durable all at once.
Yep, there's are people turning apple pulp waste into a 100 percent biodegradable textile for use in fashion free from animals.
Vegea, an Italian manufacturer, produces grape leather. The corporation does not allow the use of toxic chemicals or heavy metals in its production.
Another alternative comes from discarded pineapple tops. Ananas Amam uses the fruit's byproducts to create its sustainable substrate, called Piñatex. Piñatex is used for car interiors as well as for clothing, shoes, and accessories. What's more, Hugo Boss makes sneakers out of this vegan material.
Amadou Leather comes from fungi. The brand grows its mushrooms on sawdust blocks. It claims that the leather absorbs moisture and is breathable.
The end product is fully biodegradable and, Amadou claims it also to be antimicrobial and animal-free.
Called the "Berlin Curry" sneaker, nat-2 has used red pepper applied to an eco-flax layer to create the material used to create up to 50 percent of this footwear.
Yes, you can have real vegan leather from coconut water! Malai Design and Materials makes vegan textiles out of bacterial cellulose originating from coconut water, a byproduct that they use and then discard afterward.
This textile has a papery appearance, not unlike snakeskin.
The companies Rosslyn and nat-2 created a leather-like vegan material out of slate stone. The nat-2 label also has footwear composed of recycled Swarovski rhinestones.
The label sources the rhinestones which do not rate sale from Swarovski.
Corduroy is a fantastic vegan material that is already used in many mainstream fashion brands! It's durable, inexpensive, and has an aesthetic appeal for handbags and trousers. It also has a place in the fashion world for dresses and shirts. It is made from a combination of cotton and rayon or polyester and is 100% animal friendly.
Cork is one of the most popular vegan materials on this list; it is a natural water-repellant, which makes it a great candidate for fashioning into bags and shoes.
Depending on the finish, these products sometimes really do resemble a wine bottle stopper, and other times they look more like real leather from animals.
Moving on from animal substitutes, vegans can also wear 100 percent organic cotton, linen, or hemp.
The best places to get products from these materials are from a local who makes the clothes themselves.
Websites like ETSY are a great way to connect with sellers who, in the end, charge more.
Still, the money goes straight to the source of the raw materials and then the designer who probably needs to cover their costs.
There are so many alternatives for fashion-forward vegans.
Microfiber replaces suede; Acrylic knits replace wool for sweaters; Polyester ITY knits are great for drapes dresses. There are even Tyvek jumpsuits! Cotton, all over the clothing market, is the fabric of our lives.
Nylon is blended with rayono to make silk-like fibers that are ethical and good for all kinds of clothing applications. Natural blends that don't exploit animals pervade the clothing market, and you can order it all online.
In this day and age, most people know and agree that real animal fur is a horrifically, cruel industry. Now manufacturer Ecopel is developing a faux fur material made from recycled plastic bottles.
Through a collection system internalized at the company's mills in Asia, the company can now give used plastic bottles new life – rather than dumping them in landfills or oceans.
The regenerated fiber developed from this process has introduced into a new cycle of circular-economy production where it will become…an eco-friendly faux fur coat that harmed no animal.
Linen is a textile made from the reed of the flax plant. It has been manufactured traditionally in Europe and Japan for several thousand years and is a sustainable option.
However, Chinese linen also uses conventional fertilizers. It has increased impact, so look for good quality European or Japanese linens for your most sustainable options.
These options are also much higher quality, which is essential when you are creating your sustainable wardrobe.
Cupro, whose long name is "cuprammonium rayon," is just now becoming standard in clothing labels. Cupro derives from regenerated cellulose fibers of cotton.
It's a sustainable, eco-friendly textile that has been made from another eco-friendly textile that was recycled and regenerated.
There is only one Japanese manufacturer in the entire world making and selling Cupro (mostly in the shape of high-end dresses and shirts).
Cupro is one of those vegan materials able to replace silk in the long run sustainably. Its environmental impact is low, as it is essentially a byproduct of the cellulose it's made from.
Have you heard the news? The byproducts from your tofu could have been reused to create a vegan fashion blouse?
It's true - soy is another plant that is used to create synthetic silk substitutes. In addition to being fashion-forward, soy garments are compostable when you no longer need them.
One downside of soy is that formaldehyde is used in its processing. Still, it deserves mention in a roundup of vegan materials.
Lyocell is another option you can get. Made of wood pulp, this material biodegrades in eight days and is recycled to create other products. It's the ultimate sustainable material.
It is also elegant to wear. With a fluid, silk-like drape, lyocell is a great plant-based alternative. It makes gorgeous blouses and dresses that skim the body and is an excellent option for people who love to dress up.
You may also have heard of Tencel, which is a brand of lyocell manufactured by the Austrian company Lenzing AG. It's the best of both worlds. Who knew wood pulp could be turned into a stylish, ethical dress?
Bamboo, which regenerates from its roots and can be grown with less watering than other crops, has long been an environmental darling.
Bamboo has long been claimed to have antibacterial properties. However, it's not clear how much of this remains after processing.
Also of note is the fact that the fabric is chemically treated using chemicals that are discarded. While this is a stumbling block, bamboo is still a vegan fabric and should get to be included on this list.
While conventional cotton drinks a lot of water, its organic counterpart has always had a much smaller carbon footprint.
When buying jeans, look for earth-friendly denim and blends (quality jeans often contain some polyester, spandex or lycra and even fibers like rayon, modal, ramie, and viscose.)
To avoid the environmental impacts of traditional cotton production, make sure your cotton clothing is organic.
Hemp is another of the many fantastic plant-based fibers you can get with significant environmental benefits.
It can be grown on marginal land, so it does not take productive land away from food crops. Hemp is beautifully soft and is increasing in popularity.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of vegan fabrics for you to fall in love with. In fact, there are far more vegan fabrics out there than non-vegan fabrics.
Are there any on this list that has piqued your interest?
Keep your eye on the news, as innovative new materials that don't rely on animal products are always making headlines.
A vegan freelance web designer and blog writer based out of Austin, Texas USA.
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In this guide you can see the detailed sizing charts to all our products
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