What is fashion? In general, it is a term that applies to any way of dressing, a style which has the ability to change and shape lives through its personal connection to us all. Wearing clothing represents a personal choice. What we wear tells the story of who we are, or who we want to be. Globally, the industry is valued at $3 trillion. It is the second biggest worldwide economic activity for intensity of trade, that employs over 57 million workers in developing countries. Clothing is vital to our most basic need of warmth, and protection but now we are beginning to see fashions role in our health and well-being extend beyond this.
So then what is vegan fashion, and what is going on with animals in fashion? For centuries animals have been exported on fur farms and cattle ranches and because of the lack of transparency of the brands means that consumers don’t even have a clue as to what conditions these animals were in, how they were transported, treated, and then slaughtered. Most people don’t even think about it when they wear fashion and apparel trimmed in leather, for example. The leather industry itself wreaks of cruelty not just with the animals, but there is a lack of regulation, and labour abuses including tanneries employing underage children and harming workers with chemicals. It’s not just leather either.
There are those that may choose to not wear leather, but choose to wear clothing and accessories made from wool, Angora, and silk, for example. What they don’t know is that animals such as sheep, rabbits, and even the silkworm suffer immensely all in the name of fashion, with the same lack of regulation.
Hard-hitting campaigns targeted against the fashion industry has caused the fashion world to take a closer look, and become more compassionate. In fact, vegan fashion is something of a growing movement. More and more consumers are seeking out sustainable, ethical and cruelty-free fashion options, just as they have done over the past several years in the vegan food sector, and now it is the same in vegan fashion. Vegan Fashion has now extended even on the runway; fashion week in England, the Netherlands, and Australia have now become 100% fur-free, leather-free, and skins free.
There is a term that was founded by Joshua Katcher, fashion entrepreneur, author, and educator, called Circumfauna. Circumfauna is bypassing the use of animal materials in fashion. The data-driven research behind Circumfauna was spearheaded by Joshua, as he explains that in circumfaunal fashion, there is no brain, no skeletal system, no nervous system involved in the creation of materials, but a growing and evolving industry, with factories that create fibers without the use of animals that are brutally skinned or boiled, but rather using synthetic biology and bio fabrication which greatly cuts out our precious resources of land, fuel and water. Think of how much of these resources are used every day around the globe to process sheep for wool, cattle for leather, and reptiles for their skin. Now there are kinder alternatives. Whether it be ‘leather’ made mushrooms, ‘furs’ made from recycled ocean plastic or coconut oil, ‘silk’ made from the fibers of the eucalyptus, pineapple and banana, ‘yarn’ made from seaweed we are circumventing the use of animals in fashion and creating beautifully innovative alternatives that are better for our planet and better for the animals.
There is vegan silk made entirely from the Agave plant also called cactus silk. Harvested from the Saharan aloe vera cacti in northern Morocco, the fibers are removed from the plant, then washed, dried, dyed and hand spun. Then there is cactus ‘leather’, which is now also being used not just in fashion, but to outfit the interior of automobiles. Another amazing ‘leather’ is Mycelium which is a fabulous alternative to leather, and like cactus leather, it is rocking and revolutionizing not just the vegan fashion industry, but also the sustainable vehicle industry, sustainable water luxury travel industry, sustainable packaging and more. It’s truly amazing what plants can do when combined with brilliant and thoughtful minds, kind engineering and chemistry. Pinatex is another ‘leather’, that is a sustainable natural textile made from pineapple leaf fiber waste. Beautiful. Sustainable. All of these amazing alternatives to leather are not just plant based but even better, 100% cruelty-free.