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 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.
3. Dá Quý
Enrica Ramilli’s Vegan footwear brand Dá Quý fuses her 33 years of experience in the footwear retail sector with her concern for the environment. The name comes from a Vietnamese expression đá quý, which means “precious stones,” but if you say it out loud, Italians will immediately think of another phrase: “da qui” which means “from here.” This definitely evokes the starting point for a change in ethical fashion. These shoes are made in ethical Marche and Tuscan factories using eco-friendly materials composed of biodegradable fabrics.
4. Rafa USA
Rafa shoes are cool, chic and feminine – not to mention sustainable, too. The vegan brand uses (unspecified) eco-friendly materials in (again, unspecified) 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.
After having worked as a VIP Personal Shopper for Acne Studios, Felsha Papa wanted to make a change in the fashion industry, As a vegan, she felt the urge to provide sustainable footwear with the use of non animal leathers and glues, and so Collection & Co was born.
Produced in small factories in Greece and Portugal, the brand has become popular with the likes of Miley Cyrus and Madelaine Petsch, and no wonder: these sleek, feminine styles are beautifully Instagrammable.
“Maâlems” 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 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. It’s an environmentally-friendly material that regenerates 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.
It’s all silk, but in a cruelty-free way! Silk has been acclaimed for being among the most delicate, soft and precious of fabrics, but normally, many insects are killed to get it. Fortunately for we vegans, Minzkou uses the sophistication of peace silk (which doesn’t harm the silkworms) to create garments that are both elegant and timeless. Their cruelty-free silk is crafted, dyed and then sewn by the hands of skilled artisans to create flowing, feminine looks that defy trends.
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.