Finally, there’s a vegan wool alternative that’s not only warm and luxurious, but cruelty-free and eco-friendly, too!
By Diane Small
Although many fashionistas love the material for its breathability and biodegradability, PETA has long spoken out against wool for ethical reasons. Namely, their video exposé of the British wool industry revealed some horrifying sights at 25 UK farming sheds. Shearers were caught punching sheep in the face, stamping and standing on their heads and necks, and beating and jabbing them in the face with electric clippers.
More horrendous scenes showed one farmer dragging two injured sheep into a shed, where he left them to suffer without care until they eventually died. Several others died during shearing from possible shock resulting from the rough handling – or what one farmer called a “heart attack”.
In short, although wool can indeed be eco-friendly, it’s pretty hard to find ethically sourced wool. “Sheep are gentle prey animals who are petrified of even being held down, yet they endure vicious beatings, bloody wounds, and broken limbs in the hideously cruel British wool industry,” says PETA Director Elisa Allen. “We want to encourage (consumers) to ditch wool this winter in favour of soft and cosy, cruelty-free materials for which no animal had to suffer.”
Luckily, there’s a vegan alternative available that has the same feel, breathability and protection against the cold as wool – but it’s 100% cruelty free.
A Vegan Wool More Sustainable Than Dirt
WEGANOOL is made from pure plant resources. The newly discovered fabric consists of 30% Colatropis – a plant that grows wild in deserted lands with no need for farmers to water it – and and 70% organic cotton.
Production of this vegan fabric is mostly done by hand, and it empowers women in rural communities too dry to engage in traditional agriculture. VEGAN WOOL is produced with zero waste: once the necessary fibres are extracted, the concentrated and fermented leftovers from the plant are mixed with different Ayurvedic herbs and made into something called Arka, which is a highly efficient bio – nutrient and insect repellent.
There are many other benefits to this product, including the fact that:
- Production of 1 kg of VEGAN WOOL yarn saves 9000 L of clean drinking water compared to 100% cotton yarn
- Cultivating the VEGAN WOOL plant can convert dry, unusable terrain into profitable land for farmers
- Scientific research confirmed that these fabrics have antimicrobial properties against most common skin disease created by staph bacteria
- VEGAN WOOL fabrics are sustainable at every stage of their life cycle – from production and processing to ultimate disposal
- The fabrics out of VEGAN WOOL cellulose fibers do not shrink with every wash and are generally easier to maintain than protein-based wool fabrics
This material is really new, so not many companies are using it yet. The only one we know of is the highly stylish, ethical children’s brand Infantium Victoria, which has already used the fabric in its Fall Winter Collection for 2021 (pictured in the main image and below.)
Dinie van den Heuvel, the Creative Director of Infantium Victoria, is committed to finding hidden gems of traditional craftsmanship and to supporting organic cotton cultivation. In her collections, she experiments with different textures of organic cotton and rare and innovative plant-based materials such as Pinatex, Rami, lotus fibers, seaweed, and cork, all of which support a sustainable and vegan approach to fashion.
Vegan wool isn’t anything really that ground-breaking. Several brands, such as Vaute Couture, have attempted to imitate the texture and warmth of the material, and some would argue that polyester and acrylic have the same qualities of wool. The difference between those fabrics and VEGAN WOOL is, of course, the fact that the latter is zero-waste and eco-friendly.
Although it’s only being used in children’s wear for now, there is infinite potential for this new, sustainable vegan wool. It can not only be used to make all kinds of fashion products, from socks to sweaters, but it’s even possible to employ it as insulation for housing.
And unlike other new, innovative fibres like mushroom leather, this one is really easy to weave together, and it’s cost-efficient, too. In short, we have a lot of high hopes for vegan wool in this coming decade. We’d love to see vegan designers like Stella McCartney use it, in particular. Watch this space!