By Diane Small
Vegan fashion doesn’t usually inspire images of chic women walking their dogs in Paris, or hitting the nightclubs of New York. But the fact is, that handbag you’re admiring or those shoes you covet could well be cruelty free.
Today, vegan fashion is better designed than ever, using materials that are far more eco-friendly than previous ‘vegan leathers’–which were basically the worst forms of plastic.
Here, we’ve found 5 of the most stylish vegan brands, all of which are bound to change your view of vegan fashion forever.
1. Vaut Couture
Looking for a warm, stylish coat that doesn’t use goose down or wool (or fur, duh!)? Then look no further. Vaut Couture specialises in making vegan clothing from materials like hemp, cotton, recycled polyester and other animal friendly blends. Based in New York, where winters can be fierce, these guys know how to keep you cozy in even the most freezing of temperatures, without having to harm animals.
Sadly, it’s true that vegan shoes can look a bit cheap. But Bebe Mehr, founder of cruelty-free shoe brand Cult of Coquette, set out to change that once and for all.
In October 2014, Mehr created a chic shoe brand that shuns typically toxic ‘vegan leather’ for the most eco-friendly materials available. The resulting handmade shoes are for women who aren’t afraid to rock a heel. They come in two main styles: the ‘Azar’, a classic pump with a 4.75” heel which comes in 10 vibrant colours, and a limited edition line, the ‘Muse’, a slightly modified version of ‘Azar’ pump, reminiscent of Christian Louboutin‘s style.
In light of her rapid success, Mehr is now in the process of extending her line and is creating different shoe styles (boots, flats, sandals, other styles of pumps). Summing up the sexiness of Cult of Coquette shoes, the brand states: We love for the classic Jean Cocteau quote: ‘The prettiest dresses are worn to be taken off.’ Our cheeky response to that is, “And the prettiest shoes are worn to be left on.”
Equipe Major believes all life is important and therefore refuses to sell any clothing made from other living beings. But what to do when you love the look of say, leather skirts or patent caps? The brand uses premium vegan leather to create chic urban looks that don’t cost a mint.
Their hip and fashion forward collection penetrates a city-chic feel, and in addition to their own line they handpick items from other brands (with the same cruelty-free values) and sell them on their online boutique. We love their creations so much, we’ve decided to sell them on our own online shop, too!
Though it sounds like a design duo, the name of this bag brand is actually an abbreviation of the two main values of the brand: ‘material’ and ‘nature’. Launched almost 20 years ago in Montreal, Matt & Nat is not only inspired by the textures and different shades of nature, they are dedicated to protecting nature too.
They are constantly exploring new unconventional ways to maintain their eco-friendly and sustainable methods of vegan leather production. Thus far they have used different recycled materials such as recycled nylon, cardboard, rubber and even cork. They have recently launched bags made from recycled bicycle tires to their chic collections, which are now available on ASOS too.
5. Melie Bianco
Vegan handbag company Melie Bianco is a favourite with LA celebs. The cruelty-free line was founded in 2003 by a husband-and-wife duo inspired to bring major design trends to the conscious consumer. Think Balenciaga, Celine and Miu Miu styles, but without the cruelty.
“I design bags to reflect the season’s trends, but within a budget … women—especially working women—want high-end handbags, but at an affordable price,” explained Founder Melissa Song. The eco-friendly brand, which uses premium faux leather, has previously been featured in various publications including Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire.
Main image: Stella McCartney