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What is vegan clothing?

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Vegan? What does this word conjure up in your mind? A hippy who doesn't eat meat or use any products containing animals? Ha, I guessed so. More and more people are choosing to become vegan, I'm sorry to admit that I am neither vegan or vegetarian, but I do recycle and repurpose things, I try to buy ethically sourced things from small businesses where I can. I am tempted to try the vegan diet though, I may do a vegan week soon to see how we get on.

So what is vegan clothing you may ask?

Well, vegans do not wear clothes, shoes or have furnishings made with the skins, hair or feathers of animals, so this includes fur, leather, wool, feathers, bone, horn, shells, cashmere, suede and silk. Fabrics that vegans can wear are cotton, linen or hemp, bamboo and cork, tencel and modal, and man-made fabrics like polyester, acrylic or nylon.

In general veganism is all about protecting animals and their welfare, but ditching all the above may sound tricky, after all most jumpers are made from sheep's wool and shoes are made from leather, aren't they?!

Some brands are beginning to use recycled materials too, such as making footwear from recycled rubber, bags from recycled plastic bottles. Some are even using tree bark and coconut fibre! Old vintage clothing is also being recycled and given a new lease of life.

What we need to be looking at then are natural materials such as cotton and hemp. Organic cotton is usually grown in sub-tropical countries like India, China and Turkey from plants that have not been genetically modified, without the use of any chemicals such as fertilisers or pesticides, this has a lower impact on the environment. This cotton is also usually softer and stronger and therefore lasts longer.

Hemp fabric is made using the strands of fibre that make up the stem of the plant. The long fibres are then spun together to make thread that is then woven in to a fabric. Grown and woven with every effort to protect the planet, hemp is a super-star fabric.

Cotton and hemp are two of the most eco-friendly fabrics you can choose for your clothes. Tencel, modal and bamboo all begin life as sustainably grown trees and plants. All three of these are made into beautifully soft fabrics. But do try and find out where your clothing has been produced. Often large companies will pay workers in countries such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia a very low wage to mass produce clothing.

Unsure what you're buying? Check the label, look at the lining, outer shell, and quilting. Also look at the trims, some denim jeans have leather trims, what are the buttons made of? Some old styles are made from shell, horn or bone. Does it have pompoms? Some times these are made from wool or even fur.

Online searching will help you discover brands, there are lists of places where you can buy vegan clothing on the PETA website. We all live on this planet together and all of us can help to make a huge difference, including me!

*Pictures sourced from Unsplash*

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