The Knitwear Edit: Ethical Vegan Knits That Are More Stylish Than Cruel Wool

As the air gets chillier, it’s time to wrap up in cosy knits – and we’re secretly glad that sweater weather is upon us. Patterned sweaters paired with flared jeans, oversized knits thrown over a faux-leather mini skirt, chunky cardigans teamed with delicate dresses…knits are a cold-weather fashionista’s best friend. No garment is more reassuring and easy to pull off than a warm, heavy knit, especially if you know that it was created without cruelty.

Why not wool?

Contrary to what many people are led to believe, wool is not a “haircut for the sheep”. First of all, sheep are bred to produce large amounts of wool – in their natural state, they would grow just enough wool to protect them from the elements, without a “need” for shearing. Secondly, sheep shearers in large-scale industry (which is where high-street knitwear comes from – a far cry from the “local small-scale farmer” image many strive to have) are often paid by volume, not by the hour, so it is in their best interest to produce as much wool as possible, meaning the sheep’s well-being is put aside in favour of profitability. Countless undercover investigations on different continents have shown sheep being cut and left with bleeding wounds, kicked and hit by the workers. And thirdly, when their consumed bodies are deemed no longer needed for wool production, they are sent to slaughter. And all of this is before we even mention the practice of mulesing, where sheep are mutilated to prevent flystrike. Enough said.


What to wear instead

Fortunately, it has never been easier to dress with respect for both animals, humans and the environment. Natural and eco-friendly alternatives to wool include organic cotton and linen, hemp, Tencel and Lyocell, and soybean fabric.

Recycling also plays a large part in new vegan fabrics that are replacing wool. Menswear designer Joshua Katcher of Brave GentleMan works with recycled polyester, upcycled water bottles and cotton to create his “future wool”, which is entirely vegan. For more on the brand’s “superior materials”, see their About page here.

Going back to womenswear, we have handpicked five knits that will look amazing, feel soft (we all know that familiar feeling of wool stinging and itching…) and leave your conscience clear.

Aran Sweater in Forest, VAUTE

The ultimate winter warmer, this forest-green cable-knit sweater from VAUTE is produced locally in New York with 80% recycled cotton. Wear it with skinny jeans and vegan Dr Martens.


FAI Organic Cotton Jumper, Komodo

100% organic cotton is the way forward for this teardrop-textured cropped style in a delicious wine hue. Team with high-waisted trousers and ankle boots for an autumn outfit that is both cosy and chic.


Cindy Sweatshirt, Riyka at Gather and See

Sport-inspired luxe meets sustainability in this striped style made from 70% reclaimed cotton and 30% organic cotton through small-scale production. Wear over loose trousers or a relaxed weekend dress and sneakers.


The Chunky Knit Cotton Crew, Everlane

Had enough of dark colours? Go for this pastel-hued cotton-candy knit. On Everlane’s website, you can see the factory where this garment was produced and follow its journey into your wardrobe – the San Francisco brand is big on transparency. Team with a mini skirt and chunky-heeled boots.


Elise Stripe Jumper, People Tree

Stripes are an easy way to brighten up your look without venturing into more bold pattern territory. Wear this 100% certified organic cotton design from People Tree with a midi skirt for work, or dark denim on the weekend.


Snuggle Ikat Sweater, Passion Lillie at Bead & Reel

Crafted from 100% organic cotton jersey, this knit is made by Passion Lillie, a brand that hand-draws every pattern, which is then brought to life using ancient artisanal dyeing and weaving traditions in India. Wear it with a high-waisted skirt and add a black cross-body bag.


Photos by Nick Karvounis via Unsplash


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Sascha Camilli

Founder and Editor

A passionate changemaker, Sascha Camilli is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vilda Magazine. Born in Moscow and raised in Stockholm, she has also lived in Los Angeles, London, Milan and Florence, before landing in her current hometown of Brighton, UK. She was selected as one of GLAMOUR UK's Most Empowering Nu-Gen Activists and is a frequent public speaker on the topic of vegan fashion and material innovation. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books.


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