“V” for Vegan: The new fashion identity

Evita Apalaki

The fairytale… 

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a well-dressed beautiful lady. She was the owner of a fashion house, famous for its beautiful designs of fluffy furry coats and clothes. Her colleagues worked hard to satisfy her by making her ideas come true. But her soft scarf made from fox fur, her leather shoes made of snake skin, her big coat made of tiger fur, and the big carpet under her feet made from cow, were not enough to make her forget the idea of getting a long, brand-new, black-spotted white coat. I am sure that you remember that her plans went bad when the 101 Dalmatian dogs, the ones that she was chasing to kill and use their skins for her design, rebelled against her, destroying her reputation. Cruella de Vil is a fictional Disney character that, undoubtedly, represents the evil and greed aspect of consumerism. Now let me continue with another story that doesn’t start with the phrase “once upon a time”.

Two billion animals are killed every year in farms and ‘slaughterhouses’ in order to use their fur, skin and horns for fashion products. In order to make a long beautiful coat, the skin from 200 chinchillas is needed. Skin from thousands of sheep is also used to make soft wool sweaters. The process needs to be done while the animal is still alive in order to maintain the quality of the material. Also, numerous geese are trapped and de-feathered for their perfect colours. Unfortunately, the aforementioned actions roughly outline the unspoken bloody pathways that need to be taken before these items appear on the shelves of a luxury brand boutique.

The thoughts… 

Indeed, it is shocking to focus on the reality, but it is even more difficult to believe how much cruelty is hidden behind the breath-taking glamorous lights of catwalks. Currently, a large amount of the population is alarmed by the warnings that the planet exhibits. Nobody said that it is easy to change the lifestyle that we are used to living, but if the intentions are positive, then there are countless alternatives that we can adopt in our everyday life to make the difference. Additionally, if we are not sure where or how to start, or if we need help in the beginning, there are many organizations and ambassadors that can guide our choices to a greener life. The respect that we have for nature is reflected in our acts. Fashion is a worldwide power that can be the vehicle to demonstrate the urgent need to end the cruelty behind consumerism. The start of the second millennium was accompanied by multiple rebellious actions initiated by members of the fashion industry. Famous models around the world refused to walk for designers while wearing clothes made of animal products. The terms “Ethical”, “Cruelty-free” and “Vegan” Fashion began to be introduced to the general public, followed by the revelation and communication of the problem.  

The voices…

A lot of effort and sacrifices are needed to change stereotypes in a community. However patience and perseverance finally alerted some of the most renowned artists to change their principles. Stella McCartney is one such example who publicly shows support for this transition. After having been interviewed multiple times by PETA, it is not easy to forget her words, “The recent changes are consumer driven. It is not the industry that would be doing that if consumers weren’t demanding it”. In 2018, fur was banned by the London fashion week, while Helsinki’s Fashion week went leather-free  in 2019. Vivienne Westwood, John Bartlett, Joshua Katcher are some of the big names that have embraced similar ideas. At the same time, well-known brands like Gucci and Prada started to exclude animal products from their collections.

Amateur videos available on the internet expose the torturing of animals in order to collect their skin, fur or other parts of their body. It is difficult for anyone to watch these scenes without closing their eyes. However, painless individual decisions can have great impact. It is possible to stop being a part of this cycle. As we say “We are what we eat,” let’s also adopt the slogan “We are what we wear.”

Fashion has a worldwide impact on human beings, though consumerism can become the perfect vehicle to deliver “green” messages. The market is far bigger than we believe, with hundreds of new choices available to explore. Contemporary brands switch to 100% vegan and designers are inspired to use alternative materials like recycled plastic, wood, rubber or industrial waste to create their products. The quality and the style remain high, when usually such options are more affordable. Brave Gentleman, Moo Shoes, Patagonia, Doshi, Della, Hipsters for Sisters are a few brands from the long list of those that follow animal friendly rules. 

During our next shopping day, let’s not forget to check the labels of the products that we want to buy. Items made from acrylic, cotton, polyester, synthetic or manmade materials are great options. Real fur, leather, coated leather, wool or feathers should be avoided if we want to go VEGAN!

Sources: FOUR PAWS Australia, the dodo, VAUTE youtube video