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A Guide to Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Vegan Clothing

Many people we know have recently gone plant-based after watching on Netflix: The Game Changers, Forks Over Knives, or What The Health. This is often the start to realizing the plight of animals, or the impact to the environment a non-plant based diet has. After connecting the dots, many people realize the connection between animal and human abuse in the fashion industry. Once this sinks in, many people choose to also consider what they wear.

We have been vegan for over ten years, so we know what’s out there. Newer vegans may need some guidance, so here you go!

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Vegan clothingA sad day for many of us, hearing that Vaute Couture ended their business. I had one of their first coats 12 years ago when Leanne and Vaute were starting out. She was a VEGAN line, branded that way, and sustainable as well. My coat was made from recycled materials, and sewn in Chicago by workers making a fair wage. This is kind of unheard of. Who pays that much for a coat? Well, I did, and many others, too. She moved to NYC and grew her business, and now she is leaving.
Advertised as

SHOCKINGLY WARM - Inspired by 20 years of Chicago Winters
AMERICAN CONSTRUCTION - Cut & sewn locally supporting American artisans
ECO CONSCIOUS - Using recycled & organic fibers wherever possible
100% VEGAN - The warmest coat for your warmest heart

In 12 years in business, we have: 

♥️ SAVED about 44,000 geese (from being plucked for their down)
♥️ SAVED about 3,000 Sheep (from being factory farmed for their wool)
♥️ RECYCLED approx. 265,000 plastic bottles
♥️ DIVERTED approx. 60,000 yards of industrial fabric
♥️ SUPPORTED hundreds of local artisans

That’s inspiring. Whew!

There are other brands and sites we use for inspiration, but hardly any that has done all that Vaute has.

Here’s a little list to get you started. It includes bigger names, not small people like REBL. In general, to be TRULY sustainable, you buy nothing new! Well, those people are better than me. I do prefer to shop LOCAL and shop SMALL, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. So here is a start:

WEBSITES FOR SUSTAINABLE OR VEGAN CLOTHING AND FASHION:

Veg News – Head over to their Fashion/Beauty tab and see what’s new. Also, SUBSCRIBE! Great articles, facts, etc. in every issue.

PETA – They have a tab as well. Check it out. (If PETA turns you off, there are other places to learn about a vegan lifestyle, such as Mercy For Animals, Animal Outlook, or Sea Shepherd. These are not for fashion, but more about learning.)

Good on You – a site to see how really sustainable (not necessarily vegan) companies are. Look up your favorite. They even discuss feminism and aspects that are not always in the forefront. They have an app as well.

ACTUAL SUSTAINABLE OR VEGAN BRANDS OR SELLERS

All of these, pretty much, have Facebooks, Instagrams, etc. You can read their specifics, because they care. Some more about animals, some environment, some fair wage. All good.

WHAT DOES VEGAN AND SUSTAINABLE MEAN? SOME STATS

Vegan shoes

  • When we go to vegan pop-ups and Veg Fests, we often get this question. VEGAN clothing simply means no animal products included. This can be the material (no silk, leather, fur, etc.) or the inks (no animal products in them either.)  This does not mean they are fully sustainable or ethical.  There is how and where the garments are made. Do they use organic material? Do they use recycled material? Are workers paid a fair wage? There are standards, such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) as well as many others. We use them when choosing brands, but sometimes one person’s concerns are not someone else’s, so we offer a variety. Here’s a hard fact: It will take you about 290 gallons of water to grow enough conventional, high-yield cotton to produce a t-shirt, according to Cotton Inc. To grow the same amount of organic cotton for a t-shirt, however, requires about 660 gallons of water. But... conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world's insecticides and 7% of pesticides. Another not-so-fun fact: only single material clothing can be easily recycled. So cotton and poly blends are usually trash – unless given to another person. So only buy what you will wear, and wear out!

 

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH

And sometimes you get bad news from people you liked. I just went to a Patagonia event, and watched a film on how they support bison for food, because it saves the land. Not sure I can go there. This is why the more you know, the better you shop.

Look on our website to see how we choose our garments, inks, printers and packaging. Please support the brands you like. Take it from Leanne if not me.

-Ellen


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