Shopping for Vegan Clothes? Here’s What to Keep in Mind

Being vegan doesn’t only mean excluding meat and dairy from your diet; it’s an environmentally conscious way of living. When it comes to ethical clothing, your options can sometimes be limited. Fortunately, many international and local brands alike are leaving behind wool, leather, and fur. Vegan clothing doesn’t use any animal products or byproducts in the manufacturing process, and some of it is also biodegradable and environment-friendly. If you’re new to vegan shopping, here’s what to keep in mind when buying clothes.

Is Vegan Clothing Completely Ethical?

While vegan clothes are the more ethical option, countless international brands opt for cheaper labor in third-world countries, while others use synthetic fibers that are hard to recycle and negatively affect the environment in the long run. However, you don’t need to adopt the all-or-nothing approach, as every step you take toward living on a cruelty-free planet counts. Gradually, try to incorporate more environmentally-friendly choices in your wardrobe and try to support small businesses as much as you can.

Avoid Vintage

If you’re shopping for local brands, you can always ask the store manager or read the label. However, with thrift and vintage shopping, you can never be sure. Ethical clothing is a relatively modern concept in fashion, and vintage clothes are more likely to have animal products. Further, leather, wool, and fur were far more affordable and abundant back in the day, so don’t let the affordable price tag fool you. Luckily, if you’re opting for a more vintage look, you can browse vegan brands that recreate retro clothing without harming any animals in the making.

Check the Label

It’s sometimes just that simple. If the label doesn’t say it’s made of real leather, then it probably isn’t. When in doubt, always ask the store manager or send the manufacturer a message. Some manufacturers include blends, so keep an eye out for that. For instance, you can find fur that is clearly labeled as faux but uses a small percentage of real fur and usually says so on the label.

This goes to everything from wool jackets to faux fur gilets. The reviewers at recommend shopping from specifically vegan brands to make sure that no animal by-products are used. This also applies if you’re shopping for suede and shearling as well.

Shopping for Shoes 

If you’re shopping for shoes, the information you need is likely listed near the heel area. It may also be labeled at the back of the shoe tongue along with the brand of the shoe. If it’s not listed and the shoe is imported, avoid buying it.

You should know the materials that you should avoid and these include leather, rabbit fur, silk, calfskin, snakeskin, shearling, and suede. If none of these materials are listed, then your shoe is completely vegan. However, some brands include the materials in symbols, so if you’re unsure what they mean, always ask the store manager.

Avoid Knock-Offs

A good rule of thumb when shopping for ethical clothing is to avoid imported shoes that do not list their materials. Some of the knock offs you can find will include the exact materials that the original brand uses, but the sources can never be trusted. To stay on the safe side, buy your clothes from local brands or otherwise trusted sources. If you’re unsure, you can visit their website or check if the PETA page lists them as vegan.

Some obscure manufacturers don’t list their materials, but if they have a website up and running, you can always send them an email or simply ask them on their social media page. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before you buy if the resources used are unclear.

Stick to Cotton

As a vegan, cotton will be your best friend. They’re comfortable, often inexpensive, and they’re almost always completely vegan. Even when they’re blended with other materials, those usually include lycra, spandex, linen, microfiber, bamboo, among others, which are also completely synthetic or plant-based.

Synthetic fibers are also very versatile, so you can find them in many textures, and they’re not as limited as they used to be in the past. You’ll also notice that they’re much less expensive than products with any animal skin, fur, or wool blended with them, so it’s both more affordable and better for the planet. 

Opting for cruelty-free clothes is a step towards a greener planet. When you’re shopping for vegan fashion, make it a habit to check the label and if you’re ever in doubt, always ask the store manager or message the manufacturer to stay on the safe side. With that being said, you should know that vegan clothing is always eco-friendly and it’s not always completely ethical, so you’ll want to gradually try to include more biodegradable options in your wardrobe.