A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Fashion: Everything You Need to Know
Last updated on October 20th, 2023
Wondering what is vegan fashion? Going vegan is about more than just what we eat. It’s a lifestyle choice, which includes the clothes we choose to wear too.
If you want to be part of a fashion world that’s kind to animals and the planet then this guide to vegan fashion will get you on the right track.
Vegan fashion is all about clothing and accessories that are made from materials that don’t involve animals or the exploitation of animals. Vegans avoid materials such as leather, fur, wool and silk.
Instead of using these animal-derived materials, vegan fashion focuses on using sustainable and cruelty-free materials.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at what vegan fashion is and explore if it’s a good alternative to using materials such as leather, silk, fur and wool.
So, whether you’ve been vegan for years or you’re just starting to explore the world of ethical and sustainable fashion, this post will cover all you need to know.
What is Vegan Fashion?
One of the most incredible things about the modern world is how easily accessible information is. And with information, comes knowledge and awareness. And that is why vegan fashion is getting more and more popular.
But what is vegan fashion? It simply means dressing in clothes, footwear and accessories that are not made using any animal sources products or byproducts.
This means avoiding real leather, fur, wool, silk, feathers and any other animal-derived products.
There are plenty of alternatives and many of them use sustainable and innovative vegan materials such as recycled plastics and plant fibres like cactus, pineapple and mushroom leather! Pretty creative stuff, right?
What Can Vegans Wear?
If you’re wondering what vegans can wear, the good news is that as a vegan you don’t need to cover your private parts with a little leaf you pluck from the garden tree.
Vegans have plenty of choices.
Vegans can wear pretty much anything they want as long the materials are vegan-friendly and there are vegan versions of pretty much everything these days. So, checking the label for any animal products or by-products is key.
Keep an eye out for materials such as leather, suede, fur, felt, wool, silk and cashmere.
This doesn’t mean vegans have to miss out on traditionally not vegan-style clothing. Today it’s an extremely easy task to find a faux leather jacket, a pair of vegan suede shoes or even an imitation crocodile skin bag – if that’s what you’re into.
And if you’re after materials that are traditionally more vegan-friendly there are loads to pick from. You can opt for cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo and other materials made using plants. Let’s not forget synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. We’ll talk about the sustainability of these materials later but they’re often used in vegan fashion.
As you can see, vegans are not short of options in the fashion world.
And more good news is that as the industry advances the quality of the materials is improving. These days some vegan materials are more breathable, versatile and durable than many traditional animal-based alternatives.
What Clothes Can’t Vegans Wear?
Vegans cannot wear any clothing made from animal products or byproducts.
That includes materials such as:
Testing Materials on Animals
It may be obvious what clothing to avoid by looking at the label but it’s also necessary to ensure that the company you are buying from doesn’t test any of the materials it makes on animals, either themselves or by outsourcing it.
The best way to find the answer to this is by googling them and looking at their stance on animal testing. Or you can take a look on this really great website – Good On You. And in most cases, if they aren’t very transparent it isn’t usually a good sign.
What Makes a Clothing Brand Vegan?
Fashion brands that never use animal products or byproducts in their garments, or in any part of the process of making them, are considered vegan brands.
Fully vegan brands need to source all their materials in a way that’s completely free from animal products. Animal exploitation and any manufacturing processes that involve unethical practices should always be something vegan brands avoid.
Even though sustainability is not technically essential to be considered a vegan brand, many vegan fashion brands also prioritise sustainability and aim to be as eco-friendly as possible.
For many people sustainably and veganism come hand in hand.
Why is Vegan Fashion Good?
Vegan clothing is a good choice for many reasons.
One reason is that it ensures the clothing we wear is not the cause of cruel and environmentally harmful processes. So we can feel good in our clothes.
Sadly, there are a number of cruel and quite disturbing ways that animals suffer in the process of obtaining materials from their bodies to use within the fashion industry. By rejecting these materials you’re not supporting these processes.
Not always, but often, vegan materials are more environmentally friendly because they need fewer resources and release less harmful chemicals and gasses into the environment.
How Do I Know If My Clothes Are Vegan?
This might sound a little obvious but simply check the label.
The label should tell you all you need to know. If there are any materials you’re not familiar with just do a quick Google search and you’ll be able to find out what the material is made from.
What you typically want to see are materials that come from plants such as cotton, hemp and bamboo or materials made from plastics, ideally recycled plastics. And if you see animal-sourced materials such as leather, silk, fur and wool you know to stay clear.
If you want to buy from fully vegan brands you can check if they are certified by organisations that have authority within the vegan community such as PETA and the Vegan Society.
Are Vegan Clothes Good?
Yes, vegan clothes can be just as good, sometimes even better than clothes made from animal-based materials.
Vegan fashion is growing in popularity so designers and researchers are pumping more money, time and resources into making the best vegan materials possible.
This means vegan materials that are versatile, breathable and durable are becoming more widely available.
This is also supported by the fact that more consumers than ever before are paying attention to where their products are coming from and how they’re made, many buyers are willing to pay a little more for quality products that are sustainable and cruelty-free.
Is Vegan Fashion Eco-Friendly?
Yes, vegan clothes can be more eco-friendly than clothes made from animal-based materials. This, of course, depends on the process involved in making the materials.
A huge portion of the harmful gasses that are causing major concern to our planet come from animal agriculture. These gases, in addition to the chemicals that are used in the production of materials such as leather, are causing big problems to our environment.
If we choose vegan materials that are eco-friendly we can help to reduce the impact these gasses and chemicals have on our environment. This makes vegan clothing eco-friendly.
And that’s not all, vegan materials don’t just help to stop more damage from happening, this industry can also play a part in reversing damage. By using recycled materials such as old plastic bottles vegan fashion is also helping to reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfills.
Is Vegan Fashion More Sustainable than Non-vegan Fashion?
Yes, vegan clothing is usually more sustainable than non-vegan clothing.
This is because the production of the materials usually causes less harm to the environment. And many vegan garments use recycled materials reducing the planet’s waste.
As we’ve talked about above, animal agriculture has a large impact on the environment. This can be seen in several forms such as water pollution, the release of harmful gases and deforestation.
While not all vegan materials are sustainable, many are, whereas animal materials simply can’t be.
So, by choosing both vegan and sustainable products you are helping to reduce your environmental impact.
Are Vegan Clothes Always Sustainable?
It’s very important to remember that not all vegan fashion is sustainable. People often believe that ‘vegan’ is a magic word and if a product is vegan then it’s perfect in every way. This is not the case!
Vegan does not equal sustainable.
By name, vegan fashion only needs to focus on creating materials that don’t use animal products such as leather, fur and silk.
Exactly how the products are made and the long-term impact they have on the planet, animals and people does not come into consideration when the vegan label is being given.
So, buying a vegan jacket can guarantee that no direct harm was caused to an animal but it could have contributed negatively to our planet in some other ways.
Some vegan fabrics, like polyester, are made from non-renewable resources, meaning they’re not sustainable. And while polyester can be recycled and reused a few times it will eventually lose its quality and can no longer be used. Meaning it ends up in landfills.
When it comes to fast fashion, there are many synthetic materials used, even in vegan fashion.
And some of these synthetic materials require an incredible amount of energy to be produced. And they often release harmful chemicals that damage the environment.
Caring about animal welfare is great but to make a real difference to the environment and create a fair and sustainable fashion industry for everyone, we should look for both vegan and sustainable fashion.
This means buying vegan products that are eco-friendly and made using renewable materials, as well as reducing waste by recycling and upcycling.
Remember to always think about the whole life cycle of each item you buy. You need to understand each part from its creation right through to its disposal. Knowing and thinking about this will make it easier to make the right decision.
Are Vegan Clothes More Expensive?
Fast fashion is cheap whether it’s vegan or not vegan. But once you move further afield and look for quality items that will have a long life in your wardrobe, vegan fashion is no more expensive than non-vegan fashion.
We all know that we can head to a high street shop and buy a pair of shoes for under £20.
- But will they be vegan? Who knows?
- Will they last well? Unlikely.
- Will they be sustainable or eco-friendly? Very unlikely!
- Will they have been made using poor labour conditions? Likely!
Quality clothing costs more, and so it should.
I don’t mean £1,000+ for a bag, but if you can and want to, more power to you.
What I mean by quality is something that is made using material that will stand the test of time. Something that looks and feels good and is comfortable to wear.
If you buy products that use vegan materials that are widely available such as cotton and linen then vegan fashion is super affordable. Whereas if you want to try out some of the more exciting and innovative items made of materials such as mushroom or cactus leather then they’re likely to be expensive because of the new production methods.
But, just wait, they might be the norm in a few years.
There are many affordable vegan fashion brands offering stylish and high-quality options that compare in price to non-vegan clothing of similar quality.
It’s useful to remember that big brands will be expensive whether or not they are vegan.
Vegan fashion is for everyone, there are plenty of options and it doesn’t need to be expensive. By supporting sustainable and vegan fashion you are standing against animal cruelty and helping to build a healthier and safer planet for us all.
And choosing vegan clothing and accessories doesn’t mean you have to go without or compromise on how you look and feel. There are plenty of vegan brands out there creating affordable, sustainable, quality and innovative items.
Next, why not take a look at this post – Support Sustainable Fashion. And look fabulous!
Meet the Author
Meet Sinead O’Carroll: Vegan explorer, sustainability advocate and the founder of The Wondering Wandering Vegan. Embracing veganism since 2018 and vegetarianism since 2005, Sinead is armed with a Vegan Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle qualification, and is on a mission to share her passion for cruelty-free living.
With a taste for adventure and a heart for eco-conscious choices, she’s here to prove that vegans never miss out on flavour, fun or style. Join her in enjoying the delights of a vegan-friendly world! 🌱✈️🌍
Want to know more? Check out Sinead’s About page here.
Follow me on Instagram to see all the delicious vegan food I find, the vegan and cruelty-free products I use and what I get up to as a travelling vegan.