So you’ve decided to go vegan, or maybe you just want to create a more compassionate and eco-friendly wardrobe. Great, but where to start? The image that usually comes to mind, and the one that has been propagated by popular culture when you think about vegan and eco-conscious fashion is usually the one of the hemp wearing hippie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the hippie style, it’s simply that not all vegans (actually most of them) don’t actually abide to it. Thankfully, vegan and eco-friendly brands are entering the spotlight now more than ever to support the fashion needs of veganistas and to show the world what vegan fashion actually is. Here’s a quick guide to help you create the perfect wardrobe.
The Most Important Thing: Read Labels.
I know, I know, it’s long and sometimes confusing and you’d rather do something else with your time, but it’s probably the most important part of shopping for clothing and accessories. It will take time, but then when you find that perfect wool-free high-quality sweater, it will definitely be worth it.
Know the Usual Suspects
To speed up reading labels, here’s a list of materials you should know and avoid.
- Nubuck (a type of cow leather)
- Merino (type of wool)
- Angora (made from rabbit fur)
- Silk (produced by silk worms, peace silk and vegan silk are good cruelty free alternatives)
A Journey Through Your Wardrobe
Start by looking in your own wardrobe, chances are most of the clothing you own is already vegan. When you find items that aren’t put them in a separate pile. Now, you don’t have to throw away everything that isn’t vegan, you have a few options. Throwing clothing away just creates more waste, which you definitely do not want to do. So you can either keep the non-vegan pieces until they are used up, or if you find that you are uncomfortable with that option here are a few more possibilities to consider:
Give, Recycle, Sell
You know your friend who has been complementing your leather jacket? Then why not give it to her, you’ll make someone happy and avoid her purchasing new leather and supporting that industry. Goodwill, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters are also good places to give away old gently-worn clothing items. Why throw it away when it can help someone?
You can also recycle old clothing. There are so many DIY tutorials online that you can surely find one to recycle your old wool sweater. When you’re done, why not give it away as a present? It will be unique, and good for the planet.
If you have some expensive pieces, you can also sell them. That way you give them a second life, and make some money to invest in your new vegan wardrobe.
Do Your Research
It’s fairly easy to find vegan clothing in most stores nowadays. H&M, Zara, and even Target have vegan options. If you’re looking for something specific, or something of higher quality and kinder to the planet, then you might have to do a bit of online research.
Blogs and online vegan magazines are a great way to discover new brands. Vilda is a great example that puts the spotlight on many great vegan brands. (They have a new article about how vegan fashion is stealing the spotlight which you should go read here.) You can also visit my online inspirations page, which lists some of my favorite blogs who feature great vegan brands. Online stores like Ethica, Compassion Couture and Modavanti are also places where you can browse for products by cruelty-free brands.
Visit the companies’ websites, discover where they stand in terms of the environment and which materials they use. The best way to make the best purchases is to find out about the quality of the products. Do they use PVC or high quality vegan leather? Do they use glue that is devoid of animal products? Are they a sustainable company? Those are some of the question you should ask yourselves before investing in a brand.
Invest in Quality
Sure you can probably get a pair of leather-free shoes at a big box store, but do you really want to? Good quality vegan clothing and accessories can be pricey. But considering that they support a great cause, are high quality, and sometimes even haute couture (think Stella McCartney), why would you spend $20 on a bag, when you can get one that will last you years and is super stylish. You can also start slow, spend a little more on a classic item that won’t go out of style and that you’ll be able to keep for years.
Be Patient and Be Yourself
Let’s be honest most of us don’t have an unlimited clothing budget. It might take you a while to build your dream wardrobe. Invest in key pieces that you can transition through different seasons and that won’t go out of style, but treat yourself once in a while and get that statement-making piece that you have been coveting for a while. Most of all be yourself, follow your own style, and purchase pieces that make you feel good about yourself.