The New Luxe: Why Cruelty-Free Style is On the Rise

A recent hot topic in haute fashion has been ethics. From New York Fashion Week, where vegan fashion house Vaute Couture made its debut to Gwen Stefani’s new line of eco-responsible separates, there’s no doubt it’s cool to care.

Vaute Couture was the first cruelty-free fashion house to show at NYFW last year. In case you missed it, designer Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart’s Sailor Moon-inspired collection not only graced the stage, but was then fully embraced by fashion folk round the world, landing CNN’s homepage the very next day.

Cri de Coeur x Arden Wohl, coming Spring 2014

Cri-de-Couer, a vegan shoe brand we at Vilda love, also made it’s NYFW debut this past fall with it’s Spring ready lucite heeled and gold sparkled shoes, designed in collaboration with New York City socialite Arden Wohl. If you stalk her Instagram, like I shamelessly do, you would see her parading, twirling and stomping all over the Big Apple in her namesake kicks- no one the wiser that her covetable feet are doing more good than harm.

At the speed people use and lose things like resources, food and clothing, it’s becoming more apparent that something needs to change, and it has. Sustainable and quality items from high end designers are ushering in a new era of luxury. What was once thought of as only leather or alligator skin, the new luxe pushes boundaries with innovative materials and the idea that shopping thoughtfully ultimately leads to a better and happier planet.

Freedom of Animals Coletta Backpack
Freedom of Animals Coletta Backpack

Stella McCartney has forged and traveled this path for years, and her success is solidified in the millions of stylish girls looking to get their hands on one of her faux-skin Falabella bags. She has been vocal on her anti-leather stance, however just her bags and shoes are vegan approved for now since she still uses wool and silk in her collections. Despite this, the craftsmanship of those bags and shoes deduce a bright lightbulb moment – they’re trendy, well-made and come with a price equivalent to her designer counterparts. This means something, and that something is that there’s not only a place at the table for ethical fashion, but a hunger aching to filled.

Contributing to this high end category are stellar handbag designers like Jill Milan, Freedom of Animals and GUNAS. We’re obsessed with each brand’s take on luxe. Freedom of Animals has been compared to Celine on more than one occasion for designer Morgan Bogle’s minimalistic silhouettes and color blocking.   They are the epitome of chic, and having been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, we don’t think you need any further convincing. Whoever said knapsacks are for children hasn’t seen Freedom of Animal’s backpack.

Jill Milan’s Soho Carryall

Jill Milan‘s bags are a total star on the red carpet, in glossy magazines and on blogs everywhere. Their cruelty-free position easily flies under the radar – their Italian-made exquisite princess clutches and to die for totes speak for themselves.

Another brand of fabulous taking the world by storm is GUNAS, the New York based accessories line exclusively for those seeking the finer things in life. Their in-house studios allow for unique custom orders, arguably the most luxe purchase you can make. I’ve seen them craft a one-of-a-kind bridal clutch for a special girl’s big day  worthy of royalty-  beads, needlework and all. Gunas celebrates inner and outer peace so stylishly that it’s hardly a surprise that everything down to their glue is 100% cruelty-free. Their travel bags, aptly named London and Paris, are the perfect companions to any jet-setting girl, while their Rockstar purses can be found in several boutiques – we love their roominess, unique structured shape and standout hardware.


Getting in on the environmentally friendly fun are idolized designers like Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood. These two among others like Jason Wu have famously collaborated with Melissa Shoes of plastic shoe fame. Who would have thought such miracles could be carved from rubber? Flats tied with ribbons, heels in the shape of ice-cream cones and shiny hardware could only come from the hottest of the haute – and we are eating it up!

The list of trendy animal-friendly labels can go on forever: Italian made Krze Studio, Olsenhaus which majored in “sexy”, and Angela + Roi, who color code their bags by the associated charity their profits support. Check out our picks of the season below that can hold their own on the runway.

The higher price tags come unapologetically with higher standards. Investing in your wardrobe is cool, but investing in a movement bigger than your tiny walk in closet is commendably chic.



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Nicole Hoffman

Nicole is a native New Yorker and graduate of New York University with a Bachelor's in Media, Culture and Communication. Her cruelty-free style is girly and carefree with lots of sparkles thrown in for good measure. She blogs about NYC life and animal-friendly fashion at Too Chic for Meat.

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Vilda (Swedish for “the wild one”) is an international digital vegan fashion magazine. Our aim is to inspire elevated compassionate living. For info and media kit:


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