“I love this!” exclaims vegan model Daryna Milgevska while slipping into Raw Apparel‘s “VOGUE Vegan” sweatshirt. “The material’s incredibly soft”. And she’s right: the softness of the fabric is hard to beat. Photographer Chasity Nao is head over heels for the collection as well – her favourite is the Almond Butter print.
Raw Apparel’s overnight success is hardly surprising – the brand’s creator Vanessa Palmer has tapped into that minimalist chic, Instagrammable aesthetic that’s ruling the Internet today. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweatshirt – the fit is perfect to a tee and the selection of vegan-themed prints is enough to bring a stampede of plant-based bloggers to Raw Apparel’s website. In fact, model-slash-blogger Jill of Jillicious Journey has already been seen in not one but two of the designs.
How did the Somerset-based brand come about? “After starting to eat a fully vegan diet, I began researching all aspects of the vegan lifestyle and really learnt more and more about the impact of our choices, especially our clothing, on not only the animals but the environment and people as well,” says founder Vanessa Palmer. “The information that I was taking in completely shocked and disgusted me, that I was mindlessly buying clothing such as a leather jacket that came from a terrible tanning process and the killing of an innocent animal. So I cleared out my wardrobe and realised that I was left with not that much at all! The UK high street didn’t seem to cater to my newfound ethics so I turned to the Internet – where else? – to find brands that shared my values. I found high delivery costs and much that suited my fashion taste. Also I found that several of the companies didn’t actually share all of my values – for example, some claimed to be ‘sustainable’ but included leather products. At this point I knew that if I was having these issues, then other people were as well! So I decided to start really small and sell my favorite clothing item, the sweatshirt, and move forward from there. As Raw Apparel grows, we’ll move into more apparel products and also bring together products from different brands all sharing the same values of sustainability, ethical manufacturing and of course veganism.”
The brand’s minimalist-chic aesthetic has roots in Vanessa’s own personal style: “Personally, my fashion taste is minimal with a monochromatic palette and clean lines. For my capsule wardrobe, I curate around 40 stand-out pieces that I mix and match daily. It’s important to me to not over-consume fashion and to ensure every piece has a meaningful place in my wardrobe. So this is what I wanted the collections to reflect – minimalism, veganism and conscious consumption.”
“I wanted to create clothing for someone who shares my taste in fashion and ethics. I envisage a chic city dweller living in London, LA or Sydney rocking Raw Apparel pieces with their go-to wardrobe staples like a tough faux leather jacket, some great fitting jeans and pair of cool sneakers. But the great thing about Raw Apparel is that whilst following a minimalist sense of fashion, we’re excited to see people take our pieces and mix them into their wardrobes whatever their fashion sense is, and whoever they may be. As a company we don’t subscribe to the conventional segregations of the fashion industry and are so happy to see people of all ages, genders, sizes and ethnicities loving our clothing!”
As for celebrating progress in cruelty-free fashion, Vanessa has a few favourites: “I’m amazed every single day by the sheer amount of new, beautiful vegan fashion brands popping up! It’s incredible to see so many people coming into the space and wanting to make a real difference in the world. It’s also incredible to see how vegan style has evolved into a more fashion-forward space, almost bringing vegan fashion into the mainstream and showing people that you can still look beautiful, fashionable and on trend whilst also living consciously. Personally I have so many favorite vegan brands at the moment. At the top of the list is definitely Alexandra K, their all vegan, ethically made and environmentally sustainable handbags are beautiful! Think of a gorgeous cross between a Celine Luggage handbag and a Givenchy Antigona! I’m also loving Matt and Nat’s new shoe line, and I’m lusting over @beyond_jp’s line on Instagram and can’t wait for their online store to open! But I have to say I’m quite impressed by some of the burgeoning British high street lines as well, like H&M’s Conscious Collection and the ASOS vintage clothing section. I think it shows that the world of fashion is really changing for the better!”
On shoot day, the overcast London weather slowly gives way to what ends up being a beautiful spring day, perfect for capturing each design in Raw Apparel’s sweatshirt range and harnessing the rebellious creativity of East London’s street art. A laid-back, relaxed Sunday afternoon feel, with an added flair of city cool: it’s the new face of vegan chic.
Model: Daryna Milgevska
Shoes kindly provided by Beyond Skin
Clutch bag kindly offered by Wilby
Weekend bag by Matt and Nat
Jacket by H&M
Sleeveless jacket, New Look
Trousers, model’s own
All photos by Chasity Nao
This post has sponsored content