By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Ah, Italy! It’s a country known for its beauty. Whether it’s found in a Renaissance palazzo, in the tri-coloured deliciousness of a classic pizza Margherita or in the sleek, modernist lines of Vespa scooter, there’s something gorgeous no matter where you look in most Italian cities. Italy is also well known for its industrial design, architecture and fashion brands, including old-school ones like Missoni and Pucci and newer ones like Miu Miu and Dolce & Gabbana.
Until now, most Italian fashion hasn’t been particularly eco-friendly; in fact, many Italian brands rank amongst the lowest for eco-friendliness. But a few are starting to make a difference.
Here, I’ve rounded up some of the most Vegan Friendly Italian Fashion Brands from my beloved homeland.
Leave it to Italians to come up with a vegan leather made from food! Opificio V Milan makes shoes from a kind of material derived from cereals that miraculously gives off different textures like patent leather or suede, but is so animal-and-planet friendly that it’s certified by Peta, the Vegan Society UK and LAV. We especially love the sleek lines of the designs of Opificio’s shoes.
“Walk lightly” is how CamminaLeggero translates into English, and clearly the brand means to walk lightly on the Earth. The label adamantly does not use animal skins, wool, silk or any other material that may cause unnecessary suffering to animals. Their fully eco-friendly footwear is manufactured with as little energy used as possible in all stages of production, and is made in Northern Italy by local craftsmen and artisans.
The materials used by Barel Ethical Luxury will feel familiar to luxury lovers: the fabrics they used have the same texture as high end bags made by Prada. The difference is that Barel Ethical’s collections are made of 100% cruelty-free and vegan-friendly materials. Fabrics and microfibres are selected from the best Italian non-leather products, such as Mycro, that is a superior quality MicroFibre; that is stronger and more stable over time than the best leathers. Plus, each bag is fully biodegradable. More proof that vegan leathers do NOT have to be plastics based!
4. Zette Shoes
Zette Shoes are a well known Italian brand with modern vegan styles, including heels, flats and sandals. Though we’re not sure how eco-friendly the materials used here are, the brand is certainly a tribute to animals, since it chose its name based on a very cute silver-tabby rescue cat called Zette.
Origine Made in Italy was born from the desire to create a new concept of luxury that is cruelty free, as certified by LAV animal free fashion. Giulia Marotta, the founder of Origine, was committed from the beginning to produce elegant designs without the use of skins or any products of animal origin. The result is the use innovative materials to create a high-end, luxurious range of modern looking accessories.
Roman born Tiziano Guardini is an eco-artist who creates sharply chic environmental couture. No wonder he has been defined the “designer of nature” – his raffia crochet handbags are an excellent example of the way he merges originality and sustainability, creating eco-sculptural accessories. Just as exceptional is Guardini’s soya silk collection, where kimonos, shirts, trousers and skirts are all fashioned from soya fibre, which has little impact on Mother Nature.
Cartina is an innovative startup that was born from a unique concept: to use recycled paper for fancy sneakers. Two years of intense research culminated in the development of an innovative production process that makes Cartina the first and only company in the world who has patented systems and materials to industrially produce shoes with this original material. Cartina’s shoes are both waterproof and durable, and are much lighter than the usual sneakers, giving runners a speed advantage.
OOD is how it’s written and Wood is the way it’s pronounced. These chic handbags are the result of Marta Antonelli and Marcello Antonelli joining forces in creating a new fabric out of wood: Ligeah. This plastic-free, vegan-friendly material is as soft as leather by using walnut, birch and ash wood fibres that are interwoven to create a magical effect.
Escudama was born in 1981 in a small town on the hills of Piedmont, a well known area for luxury items Made in Italy. Escudama bags have a high-tech, arty look, and so it’s no surprise the brand also makes bags for technological instruments like tablets or laptop. The bags’ artisanal production is grounded on solid experience in manufacturing and the research of high quality materials such as patented eco-leather.