Vegan fashion has changed my life–yes, jeans, and shoes, and sweaters have made me a better, more compassionate person.
This article won’t chastise you for wearing leather, try and convert you to veganism, or tell you that you’re somehow inadequate for choosing animal fur over faux. Ultimately, we are all humans who have the ability to make choices – paper or plastic, apple or banana, regular or premium – and reading this won’t take that ability away from you. What it will do (I hope), however, is serve as a platform for discussing all the things vegan fashion has done to not only change my life, but really enrich and enlighten my outlook on the world.
First, what is vegan fashion? It’s clothing, shoes, outerwear, and accessories that are free from animal-based materials, namely leather and suede, wool, silk, or fur. Lots of the clothes we wear are vegan by default: denim, cotton tees and undies, etc.
Fashion, whether it’s vegan or ethical or eco-friendly or not, is a global phenomenon – a process that may start clear across the planet before ever making its way into our closets. And with an impact that broad, it’s important to identify why it matters so darn much. Fortunately, intentional vegan fashion is often a positive process resulting in a product that’s better for everyone involved. And the ways in which it has changed my life, for better or worse, is what we’ll be exploring today.
1. Human Rights Awareness
Sometimes we become so focused on the animals that we forget about the ones who make the production aspect possible – people. Clothing manufacturers’ employees deserve to earn living wages, have safe work environments, and perform under humane working conditions, which in many cases of fast fashion, are completely overlooked. I’ve come to the conclusion that the founders of ethical, and fair trade vegan clothing companies are all around more compassionate and aware of such problems, and less concerned about the company’s bottom line. Of course, that doesn’t apply to all vegan products, but there are those brands out there that do consider these factors, and that makes all the difference.
2. Save More Money
This may not seem true at first glance, considering that vegan clothing from ethical retailers and manufacturers can sometimes be more expensive that their counterparts, but because I’m ultimately more selective about what I spend my money on, opting for quality over cheaper, fast fashion quantity, then I’m not faced with the cheap, disposable factor of the items I buy. Not only that, but synthetic belts, shoes, handbags, fur accented coats, and other clothes and accessories made from faux materials sometimes actually cost less than those made from the real thing.
3. Trickle Down Effect
Adopting vegan-only fashion had what I like to call a trickle-down effect on my choices, in that the idea sort of naturally influenced my way of thinking in other areas of life. Going cruelty-free with my toiletries, makeup, hair dyes, cleaning solutions, and other products was a direct result of my fashion choices. It only made sense to “go all the way” forcing me to explore new territory that required a lot of research and discovery, but was incredibly rewarding nonetheless. Today, identifying brands and products that are acceptable for my lifestyle is easier than ever, like second nature. It has made the journey worth the initial work because I feel better about my choices and what I put on my body.
4. Sadness, But Also Compassion
I’ve seen the undercover videos, I’ve read the books, I’ve watched the documentaries, and although you can’t believe everything you see or hear, there’s a lot of truth to what goes on in the leather and wool industries, the fur trade, and more. It’s a sad reality for the animals we use for fashion and it really bothers me. Not only do they experience extreme suffering, but with appalling revelations publicly surfacing about China’s dog fur trade, there’s no way of knowing whether the animal is actually someone’s beloved pet. Anonymous or named, any animal being harmed makes me sad, but also knowing that they’ve suffered only compounds my feelings, resulting in a whole lot of compassion for the gentle, unassuming beings that share this planet with us.
5. New Discoveries
During my research into textile alternatives to animal-derived materials, I have been exposed to technological advances and innovative techniques that have produced some of the most unique and beautiful “fabrics” I’ve ever seen. This has opened my eyes to the future of both the regular and vegan fashion industries, with high hopes that one day famous designers will opt for the innovative product rather than the traditionally high-end product that so often require the use of animals. I believe that adopting this principle will not only set a new standard but it will also appeal more readily to the progressive generations to come.
As individuals, we are free to make our own choices, so let’s hope that a message without blame will incite more compassion in all aspects of life. And, as always, let us know your thoughts on the EcoSalon Facebook page.
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