Mena Suvari, the actress known for both “American Woman” and “American Beauty,” was in the front row at last week’s first Vegan Fashion Week at the California Market Center, wearing a black textured patent-something cap with matching jacket and pants by Enda, along with “leather” shoes by a brand that bore the label Cult of Coquette.
Ms. Suvari, 39, has been vegan for the past two years, and it quickly dawned on her that this commitment involves not just food, but also clothes.
“I remember the moment where I was sitting with my $1,300 leather tote at Little Pine, Moby’s restaurant, and I felt like a jerk. I was like, ‘I can’t do this!’” she recalled. “I went home and got rid of everything in my closet, was left with two pairs of shoes and one handbag, and have worn cruelty-free fashion ever since.”
She has started an Instagram account devoted to the topic of vegan fashion and said she recently met with a manufacturer and plans to start designing herself.
Suvari adopted a plant-based diet in early 2018. According to the Rhode Island native, it was a series of events that led her to a more cruelty-free lifestyle. She had worked with Last Chance for Animals, a nonprofit founded by “General Hospital” star Chris DeRose, on an anti-vivisection PSA. After that, she watched the 2017 documentary “What the Health,” which explores the link between diets heavy in animal products and chronic disease.
“I believe it was not only seeing footage of what happens within our world towards animals but also the way that the documentary clearly explained the health aspect of veganism,” Suvari tells LIVEKINDLY. “It all just instantly clicked for me and I went plant-based overnight.”
At first, Suvari found it challenging to find a vegan fashion that stood up to non-vegan counterparts like fur, leather, silk, and wool. But, she was determined to rework her entire wardrobe. “It all became a sort of fun mission for me,” she says.
Suvari turned to the web and found inspiration through Instagram. “I fell in love with so many awesome designs and couldn’t believe how much was out there that I’d never known of,” she wrote on The Kind Life. After purchasing a pair of MooShoes and Sydney Brown clogs, she “saw things differently.”
Not only did Suvari want a vegan wardrobe, but also “I am a fan of anything that is eco and sustainable,” she says. “I try very hard to follow these guidelines within my wardrobe and style and feel very lucky to have met some amazing designers, like ENDA, along the way that will work with me to create pieces for events.”
Fashion’s relationship with animal-derived materials dates back to times when humans had no choice but to rely on fur, leather, and wool. But the industry is adapting to increased demand and new innovations. “I love that I can have so much and such a fun variety in my closet. And most importantly, it’s honoring these individuals who choose to work hard with pure passion to change the fashion space,” Suvari wrote. “Plus, a lot of these companies work with a variety of different charities and donate a portion of sales to them. To me, that’s the most special.”
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