A Crash Course in Vegan Clothing

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I often think of veganism as just a diet and forget that it’s something that affects all facets of life, including clothing. Despite this oversight, I think about vegan clothing and shoes often, partly because I want to be more of a conscious consumer when I’m clothes shopping, and partly because Dr. Martens stocks a vegan boot that I absolutely love.

In case you need to be caught up like I did, veganism is a lifestyle with fairly straightforward goals. Vegans aim not to inflict harm, suffering, or death upon animals, and they believe that the lives of animals have intrinsic value. These beliefs cause vegans to try to create lifestyles in which their food, clothing, furnishings, entertainment, and cosmetics are all animal-free.

In terms of clothing, vegans avoid materials made with animal skins, hair, or feathers, including fur, leather, wool, and silk among many others. Instead, vegan clothing makes use of plant based textiles like cotton, linen, or hemp and fabrics made of synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic or nylon.  Many websites, like PETA, have guides on which materials are vegan and which materials should be avoided.

Though animal based products are pervasive in our society, especially in our food, dressing in vegan clothing is easier than you might think. Vegan clothing is manufactured by a variety of different labels, from top designers like Stella McCartney to every day stores like H&M and Forever 21. Many stores and designers aren’t 100% vegan, but carry many vegan products. And if you love online shopping, you’re in luck – many retailers that specialize in fair-trade, vegan, sustainable clothing and shoes exist online!

One major conversation in the vegan community concerns whether it’s vegan to buy or wear secondhand clothing made with animal products. On one hand, buying secondhand clothing made with animal products doesn’t create a market for the material, nor does any animal cruelty take place. On the other hand, wearing animal products could project the idea that wearing animal products is acceptable and might act as an influential force for others to buy animal products. There’s no clear answer to the debate, and people interested in wearing vegan clothing need to make their own individual decisions based on where their beliefs fall in the debate.

From this crash course, I’ve concluded that all you need to dress in a vegan way is to shop in an educated way. By paying attention and being conscious of how the clothing and shoes you buy are made, you can start dressing vegan in no time!

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