The fashion industry can be cruel. Animals are farmed not just for meat but also for their fur and skin (as well as other parts) in order to make clothes for people who don’t realise or care what they are purchasing. The skin of animals like cows and snakes is turned into leather bags, shoes and belts, while fur from foxes and minks is often stitched into coats and scarve. Even sheering sheep for woolly hats and jumpers causes lots of abuse, with sheep being killed at a young age once their wool stops being profitable.
None of this is necessary, thankfully – you can have fashion without suffering, you just need to know what to avoid and where to look!
Viva!’s campaign, The Big Cover Up, showed people the cruelty behind the leather industry and encouraged others to stop buying leather for good! When a cow goes into the building and comes out as nothing but meat and skin, we know that nothing humane or kind has happened to the cow along the way…
Find out more about leather here.
Cows are not the only animals that humans turn into leather – they do it to kangaroos, too! Kangaroo leather is used to make football boots. In 2003, Viva! played a leading role in showing the horrors of kangaroo leather and still continues to fight against Adidas, Nike, Puma! and Umbro to make sure they kick the cruelty out of their boots!
The fashion industry also uses the fur from foxes, minks and rabbits for clothing. These animals are kept in small cages, often malnourished and diseased, before being eventually killed and skinned for their fur. Thankfully, nowadays, there are many fake (or ‘faux’) furs available which have the same look and texture but are ethically made, not taken from animals!
Read more about animals farmed for fur.
Woolly hats, woolly jumpers and woolly scarves are seen everywhere during the winter. Unfortunately, however, these woollen garments are made at the expense of sheep. Every sheep that is shorn eventually becomes no good at producing wool and is therefore killed at a young age, often at under half of their natural lifespan. Shearing itself is often also painful and very frightening for the sheep – some even die of heart attacks during the process! Wool is actually totally unnecessary, given that so many alternatives now exist.
Find out more about wool.
Other substances to avoid:
Shellac (the shell of the lac bug)
Animal-based glues (commonly used to hold shoes together)
Silk (from the silkworm)
Suede (a type of leather)
Cashmere (a sort of goat wool)
Down (the feathers of ducks and geese)
Thankfully, you can find vegan clothes at most major retailers nowadays. Anything that is entirely synthetic (e.g., 100% polyester) or cotton is entirely vegan, for instance. Read on for some of our favourite vegan, ethical and sustainable fashion brands! (However, if you are environmentally conscious, you may want to avoid buying entirely new clothes anyway – especially as synthetic clothing gives off so many microfibers when washed!)
|Vegan Outfitters||Viva La Vegan||Plant Faced Clothing||Herbivore Clothing||Will’s Vegan Store|
|Kula Backpacks||Vegetarian Shoes||Blackspot Shoes||Heavenly Feet||WAMA Underwear|
|Insecta Shoes||In The Soulshine||Brave GentleMan||Loomstate||Wuxly Outerwear|
|Delikate Wayne||Kotn||Boody||Conscious Step||Tentree|
Most brands that are fully-vegan also make efforts to reduce their ethical and environmental footprint on the planet, but you might want to double-check that the items you are buying definitely agree with your principles! Research the labels you buy or use a service like Ethical Consumer to be certain.
To avoid buying new, you can also check out websites such as Vinted and Depop – these are not fully vegan, of course, but you can find plenty that is vegan on there. Buying second hand is also much better for the environment (as well as being cheaper for you)!