The sometimes indulgent world of fashion is not immune to the trend to sustainability and using more ecologically sensitive materials…
You might look at your wardrobe and think it’s largely animal free — your shearling bomber jacket uses faux fur and the only leopard print you own is A) fake and B) reserved for fancy dress parties. But then you take a closer look, to your sheepskin-lined ugg boots, your suede trainers, even your jeans carry a leather patch, and your silk ties are considered non-vegan, being produced by silkworms.
Turning your wardrobe vegan doesn’t mean swapping your existing clothes for ‘Save the whales’ T-shirts, hemp sandals, and insufferable lectures about morality — here are four simple ways to remove animal products from your fashion.
It’s hard to avoid animal-derived materials when you don a suit, which is normally accompanied by leather shoes, an animal-skin belt, and a silk tie. And although faux suede and leather is a fraught path to thread, Stella McCartney tried to prove that animal-free formalwear doesn’t have to look frumpy when she launched her debut menswear collection (below) last November. “You should be able to buy non-leather shoes if you’re Morrissey, and not sacrifice your style,” she said. “Our women customers take that for granted.”
There’s a growing community of fledgling animal-free menswear labels popping up everywhere, but Thought (below) is one of the oldest. Established in Australia in 1995 (originally called Braintree Clothing) before exploding in London seven years later, Thought relies on sustainable fabrics like hemp, cotton, and bamboo to produce its summery range of relaxed button-down shirts. New York-based Brave GentleMan employs even more out-there “future-textiles” like Brazilian tweeds and twills made of recycled cotton and polyester, and Turkish silk made of recycled water bottles.
American designer Sydney Brown has turned her focus from luxury women’s footwear to men’s shoes this year, releasing three pairs of sustainable sneakers (below) — a classic-looking high top, low top, and a sandal-hybrid cutout — that swap leather and suede for sustainable cork bonded to organic cotton. Next on the agenda? Developing a material made of fennel — yep, the vegetable — as well as derby and desert boot designs. McCartney’s menswear line also contained vegan sneakers for US$595 (AU$780) made of canvas if saving the animals is more important than saving your bank balance.
Australian start-up Time IV Change (pronounced “time for change”) launched the world’s first vegan leather watch last year, when Victorian duo Marko Stevanja and Monique Medved created a range of six minimalist timepieces using high-grade polyurethane leather straps and recycled aluminium case (below). London-based manufacturer Votch — a portmanteau of the words ‘vegan’ and ‘watch’; a name that could probably do with a little more work-shopping — followed their lead last year, too, with similar pieces.