These vegan Italian fashion brands aren’t just using innovative, cruelty-free fabrics; they’re creating them!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Ah, Italy! It’s a beautiful country. Whether it’s a Renaissance palazzo, 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, family-owned ones like Missoni and Pucci, and newer ones like Miu Miu and Dolce & Gabbana.
But until now, most Italian fashion hasn’t been particularly eco-friendly. In fact, many Italian brands rank amongst the lowest for eco-friendliness. Luckily, a few are starting to make a difference by making their creations from more ethical and sustainable materials, including vegan leathers.
Here, I’ve rounded up some of the most vegan friendly Italian fashion brands from my beloved homeland. I believe these are all maintaining the traditions of sartorial beauty in my country. And now that sustainability has become a key theme in the fashion industry, Italians have embraced the challenge to create more sustainable textiles, cruelty free styles, and eco-friendly designs.
Which vegan fabrics are Italian designers using today?
Today the Italian textiles industry has developed numerous intriguing and innovative low impact fabrics. These are usually – but not always – plant based, and include:
- Orange Fibre. This patented material comes from hundreds of thousands of tons of citrus juice byproducts
- Apple leather (by Frumat), a uniquely Italian material created in Bolzano. This leather alternative comes from apple waste in the food industry. This waste normally just gets burned or tossed into landfill.
- NewlifeTM, engineered from 100% post-consumer bottles which are sourced, processed and spun into yarns using a mechanical process, with a fully traceable Italian supply chain.
These materials aren’t just great ideas sitting in labs or shown for special exhibitions. Not at all! In fact, they’re actually being used right now by these innovative, vegan Italian fashion brands.
Che Bella! Ethical, Vegan Italian Fashion Brands
This is one of the poshest vegan friendly Italian fashion brands! Benedetti Life often uses apple leather to create their accessories. But the label also employs other fabrics, such as Pinatex, recycled yarn, hemp, and organic cotton, to name a few.
Each intricate design made by Benedetti grasps its inspiration from nature, and every collection uses unique cuts, gathering and tailoring. The result is a blend of classical, Italian dressmaking techniques with avant-garde fabrics and silhouettes. And ultimately, works of great beauty.
CO|TE is a Milan-based womenswear and accessories brand founded in 2010 by designers Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari. The duo chose to use mainly ECONYL, a yarn made from recycled fishing nets and carpets, in their collections.
ECONYL is the ideal sustainable material for creating delicate lace, and plastic-like detailing and accessories. Ideal for this feminine brand!
CO|TE’s collections exalt geometric forms and flowing silhouettes. The natural and refined sensuality ingrained in every woman becomes the star of each look.
Vegans rejoice! Milanese designer Daniele Calcaterra is the founder of a fabulous eco-friendly label that creates realistic looking “feathers” and “fur” by weaving hemp rope, organic cotton organza and silk.
Besides coming up with ways to save animals from dying for fashion, Calcaterra is also a fervent fan of sustainable materials like TENCEL. This fibre comes from wood pulp. It’s always sourced responsibly from sustainable forest plantations and produced in a closed loop process to ensure that all water and solvents are continually re-used.
Rich volumes and sleek lines make Calcaterra stand out from the other vegan Italian fashion brands. The designer is passionate about beautifully dressing both men and women of the 21st century.
Roman born Tiziano Guardini is an eco-artist who creates sharply chic environmental couture. For example? His raffia crochet handbags stand out for way he merges originality and sustainability, creating eco-sculptural accessories. Just as exceptional is Guardini’s soya silk collection. This includes kimonos, shirts, trousers and skirts, all fashioned from silky soft soya fibre.
Guardini is probably the best known of all the vegan Italian fashion brands. His search for the most sustainable materials and production processes on the planet lead to some very creative results. For example? Guardini made one of his most innovative pieces from organic peace silk and recycled nylon. The ethical dress features hand embroidered sequins, which he made from found seashells and discarded CDs.
Of all the vegan Italian fashion brands I know of, this is perhaps one of my favourites! This elegant vegan fashion house uses only the most eco-friendly materials imaginable. These include hemp, linen and organic cotton to create its flowing, feminine styles.
Poethica is the brainchild of Jose Luis Toniutti, an art director based in Milan. The label prides itself not only in working with a small, ethical collective to construct the garments, but also in making sustainable luxury surprisingly affordable.
Photo credits: Dress & Earrings: Folium Collection 2022 Model: Anastasya Lazurko – Ph: Jose Luis Toniutti