PETA’s dedication to animal-free fashion is second to none – and we were thrilled to see that PETA US had taken their first foray into styling with a brand new vegan fashion lookbook, featuring brands such as Insecta Shoes and Matt and Nat – and starring two of the most prominent faces of ethical style, Joshua Katcher of The Discerning Brute and Brave GentleMan, and Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture.
We had a chat with PETA’s Campaign Coordinator Christina Sewell, who’s also the blogger behind Brave Heart Habitat, about her work on the campaign, her choice of brands, and the future of vegan fashion.
1. How did you select the products to be featured? What were your criteria?
I wanted to include the companies that are truly revolutionising what it means to be cruelty-free. Those proving that beauty is heightened when it’s more than skin deep, and that you really can have your (vegan) cake and eat it, too. After weeks of compiling companies with 1) the most socially and environmentally conscious business practices; 2) sustainable and/or innovative technology; and 3) reliable sourcing methods, we were looking at some seriously beautiful cork handbags, wool-free knits, faux-fur stoles, and patent vegan leather platforms, all of which I was dying to take home with me! Some fun facts about our 2015 Vegan Fashion Award winning designers/companies featured in this year’s lookbook:
· Brave GentleMan is the first all-vegan and sustainable men’s fashion brick-and-mortar store in New York City. Katcher’s suits use a recycled cotton/poly tweed and Turkish “future-silk” recycled poly lining, and his suede and leather-like jackets are made from recycled polyester. Vaute has long been known for its vegan wool-blend hats and coats—made of 100% recycled plastic bottles, crafted in the USA, and insulated and lined with the same advanced materials used by arctic explorers—and, this season, has started developing a vegan “wool-like” chunky knitted sweater.
· Insecta Shoes, this year’s Most Talented New Designer, handpicks materials at vintage suppliers and vintage and thrift stores and gives them a new life as 100% unique footwear—no two same pairs exist.
· Della, this year’s Most Socially Conscious Designer, is woman-owned and –run and driven by its mission to create goods that give back to those most in need. The company’s beautiful accessories are handcrafted by members of the Hohoe community in Ghana, where Della provides jobs, education, and skills training.
· The Reformation, 2015’s Most Loved Vintage/Repurposed, manufactures most of its garments in its own sewing factory in downtown Los Angeles and sources mostly repurposed vintage garment or rescued deadstock fabric. Its recent No Red Carpet Needed Collection initiative donated 25% of proceeds to MUSE School, the first all-vegan school in the U.S. run by Suzy Cameron, wife of director James Cameron.
2. What are some common misconceptions about vegan fashion that you’ve come across?
Vegan fashion has come a long way. This used to be a concept attributed to “hippie dippy” apparel like brown hemp sacks or rubber sandals, which of course are vegan, but with the rise of conscious consumerism today and innovation of natural and man made fabrics that outperform their animal based counterparts, this kind of apparel has come to mean garments and accessories with a higher consciousness that can fit anyone’s budget or lifestyle. And that’s because style savvy consumers are realizing that crudely handling sheep for their wool, ripping feathers from live geese for down, and bludgeoning exotic reptiles for their skins is outdated and cruel, but still industry standard. Which is why they’re turning instead to ethical, animal friendly brands like those featured in our lookbook which offer sustainable, luxurious options made from things like Primaloft recycled plastic bottle polyester technology, upcycled and vintage lyocell and cotton, all repurposed rubber soles, and closed loop wool-free knits. People are inherently good and are becoming more and more attracted to conscious clothing that lets them tell that story.
3. How do you see the future of vegan fashion evolving?
Fashion in general is becoming increasingly forward-thinking, with a focus on materials that do more to protect the planet and all of the animals who live on it (including us), and “vegan fashion” continues to lead that charge. With today’s rise of information regarding the mass cruelty and environmental destruction around raising and killing animals for clothing, people can easily choose to do their research and make kind, sustainable choices, and they are. That, along with better educated new designers and businesses looking to sustainable and innovative practices for their designs, the day is near where consumers and businesses are no longer resorting to wearing or selling bits and pieces of any animal’s skin or coat.
See the full lookbook here. All photos courtesy of PETA.