By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Now that Gucci has promised to ditch the fur, it seems like cruelty-fashion is now a mainstream thing. Consumers are increasingly demanding clothing that doesn’t involve the killing of animals, and why not? For us, it’s a total no-brainer.
The problem is that a lot of companies greenwash their plasticky, toxic ‘vegan leathers’ as being cruelty free, but my friends – they are not. I mean, polluting waterways, air and land with nasty petroleum based textiles (or worse) is anything but cruelty free!
Luckily, there are increasing numbers of chic vegan labels who get it. These are the new, eco friendly vegan brands we’ve got an eye on, not only for their style, but their sustainability, too.
Here’s a material we never thought of for vegan bags before: stainless steel! STEWART/STAND is an absolute innovator with this material, and their vegan stainless steel wallet and clutch collection is redefining vegan fashion. More jewellery than fashion accessory, these clutches and wallets, which are designed by the two brothers who founded the company, also protect against the growing problem of RFID theft.
After a visit to China back in 2009, Aaron Pei discovered an innovative new material called ultra-microfiber. Knowing that this existed, he was dismayed by the fact that people continued to slaughter innocent animals for their skins when a perfect alternative already existed. Forget the cheap, toxic smelling material that many vegan bags used in the early days in a bid to venture away from animal materials; this material is the creme de la creme luxury vegan style, and it comes in a variety of colours and textures. Today, JW Pei creates chic, minimalist bags, wallets and backpacks from the stuff, perfect for all aspects of city living.
There are lots of things you can do with old coffee grounds: make a natural face or body scrub; fertilize your plants, or if you’re innovative German brand Nat2, you can create vegan friendly sneakers from the stuff!
Yep, it’s true: a strong, leather-like material can actually be made from used coffee grounds, and believe it or not, your feet will smell a bit like java after wearing these, too!
4. Rafa USA
Rafa shoes are cool, chic and feminine – not to mention sustainable, too. The vegan brand uses recycled materials that are vegan friendly, and also uses sustainable processes to create slow fashion shoes and accessories for animal-loving fashionistas like Pamela Anderson, Natalie Portman and others. You’ll find Rafa shoes at some of the most stylish online stores like Assembly and Reformation as well as online at RafaUSA.com.
Always striving to be ever-more eco-friendly, Svala is a vegan brand that uses sustainable materials like cork and Pinatex to create its bang-on-trend bags. One of our favourite styles is the ‘wallet purse’ (below) which can either be a simple wallet, or when the elegant chain is added, it becomes a refined evening bag.
Moroccan artisans are the creative force behind AMAZ sneakers, under the guidance of the brand’s founder Fadila Bennani. This footwear label honors local craftsmanship through a special programme that contributes to improve access to education for girls in landlocked areas of Morocco. Of course, AMAZ’s products are completely vegan, using natural fibre textiles like waxed cotton instead of leather for their artistic uppers and rubber for their soles.
Not familiar with raffia? It’s a straw like plant that forms the perfect base for bags, like these fun creations by The Noces. The brand works to create these accessories with communities in Madagascar, where the material, which comes from palm trees, is sourced.
Raffia’s an environmentally-friendly material that regenerates quickly after being extracted, and the label’s “raffia only” accessories are not only 100% vegan, but also use dying techniques that respect the health of not only the users of the bags, but the planet, too.
Thought is a brand that started with men’s shirts and beachwear made from sustainable ramie and hemp materials, and has since grown to become a vegan fashion brand that caters to modern designs to both sexes.
Thought uses only natural, organic and recycled fabrics, such as organic cotton and bamboo, helping them to lower their impact on the planet whilst making sustainable fashion more mainstream and readily available. From the first to the final stitch, each Thought produce is made in the same country, so it’s never shipped from place to place, making them mindful of the environment.
9. Veerah Shoes
Incredibly stylish and versatile, Veerah’s vegan shoes are made from an innovative material derived from wasted apple fibres! Not only is the brand focused on this sustainable aspect of production, but they also offer accessories such as straps, jewels and fringes, that can be added to any style, easily transforming one shoe style into three!
10. Bag Affair
Bag Affair is a French brand that’s working hard to bridge the gap between the practicality of briefcases and the elegant designs of handbags. Realising that finding such bags is even more difficult for vegans, they spotted a gap in the market and designed a range of fashionable bags/cases using cork as their main source material. All bags are handmade in Portugal at the hands of cork-specialised artisans and are all cruelty-free and purely natural, from the cork exteriors to the wooden ‘hardware’ and cotton interiors.
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