Your wardrobe doesn’t have to be limited by your vegan lifestyle, there are plenty of ways to shop for vegan styles on the high-street if you know what to look for, and what to avoid. I’ve answered four of the most frequent questions I get asked by friends and clients on this topic. How to shop wool, shoes, faux fur, and silk. Whether you’re vegan or not, it’s always good to know what the clothes you choose to buy are made up of. Scroll on to find out how to shop vegan on the high-street and view my summer wish-list.
IS WOOL VEGAN?
Wool is an incredibly sustainable fabric because it’s natural, renewable and biodegradable. However, wool isn’t the “haircut” most shoppers think it is. Shearers are paid per kg rather than for their time, so sheep often get hurt during the process and their is the unbearable practise of mule-sling (which is banned in the UK). Having said that, for allmost all countries wool is the secondary product to sheep farming – the primary being meat. Welfare aside, wool cultivation also has serious environmental impacts through its use of pesticides. Sheep are treated with injectable insecticides or dipped in pesticides to control parasite infections and these widely used pesticides are linked to significant growth in water pollution, and have now been suspended in the UK.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR WOOL STYLES.
Most knitwear styles will be made with of a high percentage of wool, cashmere or marino. Make sure you check the label as most styles will have a pesky 8% wool in them, which is most likely to have come from the sheep farmed primarily for meat. Shearling, angora, alpaca and cashmere are off limits for vegan shoppers.
Check out Vaute Couture for wool-free coats and jumpers. If you’re a knitter you can buy awesome ethical and sustainable wool from Wool and the Gang. Otherwise check all the ingredients of your knitwear before purchasing, and opt for man-made fibres instead.
IS SILK VEGAN?
Silk is produced from the chrysalis (or pod if you’d like) of silkworms. The fibres are extracted by steaming to kill the moth chrysalis because if the moth emerges as part of its natural life-cycle this silk filament is damaged. For that reason vegan shoppers should steer clear of this fabric.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR WHEN SHOPPING SILK STYLES.
Underwear, shirts and blouses may contain a % of silk, look for manmade fibres or organic cottons instead. Alternatively you can look for peace silk, which is more coarse than silk as it allows the moth to emerge from its pod naturally, breaking the strands of the silk; but is an ethical substitute.
HOW CAN I CHECK IF SHOES ARE FULLY VEGAN?
Some faux-leather shoes might still have a leather insole. It is easy to see whether a pair of shoes are vegan by checking the symbols that are usually found on the sole of the shoe. If all symbols are a diamond shape, that means they are textiles based and you’re good to go. However if there is a cowhide symbol on any of the symbols it means leather has been used to create the shoe.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR VEGAN SHOES.
If one or more of the symbols on the sole of the shoe contain a cowhide image then they are made partly of leather. Check out my table below to see which symbol’s are which.
HOW CAN I TELL IF LEATHER AND FUR STYLES ARE FAUX?
The price is often a bit of a giveaway as to whether an item of clothing has been made with animal materials or not. A £25 biker jacket from Zara? Probably vegan. Also brands usually like to make customers aware that a product is real leather – often your’ll see “real leather” tags on accessories and styles. If in doubt check the label or ask a member of staff. I always think asking is best as it makes the brand more aware of their consumers demands. I was in Victoria Secret recently and there was one of those deals on where if you spent over a certain amount of money you got a free $70 handbag. I asked the shop assistant if it was real leather and she said proudly “yes it is, it’s one of our best gifts!” When I said I didn’t want it she replayed “that’s unusual, usually people only want it if it is leather and don’t want it if it’s faux!” This saddened me slightly, and made me realise how ingrained it is in our society to buy the more ‘luxury’ and typically expensive item, forgetting its origins entirely. Faux leather is seen as the cheaper and tackier fabric – which mind-baffles me slightly.
Shrimps is obviously a firm favourite when it comes to faux fur styles. Also try Urban Code for faux leather and faux fur. Otherwise top high-street chains such as Mango, Topshop, H&M Conscious and Zara will all sell faux styles.
MY VEGAN SUMMER WISH-LIST
VISITING LONDON? CHECK OUT MY TOP THREE ECO-STORES
69B. 69B Broadway Market, Hackney, London E8 4PH
THE THIRD ESTATE. 27 Brecknock Road, Camden, London, N7 0BT
THE GOODPLACE. 61 Chelsea Manor Street , London, SW3 5RZ
As always, any questions on how to shop for vegan styles please jump into the comment section below – I’m here to answer any questions <3