Vegan And Broke

A Quick Guide to Vegan Clothing

What do you mean Vegan Clothing?

Food is one of the biggest focuses in the vegan community but there is another aspect to this lifestyle that can be easily overlooked. Clothing and materials used for accessories can also be non-vegan. Trying to implement veganism within your clothing can be a confusing experience because unlike food items, clothing usually doesn’t have an accurate ingredient list for you to refer to. Vegan clothing is widely available and not uncommon, however, you do have to be mindful of specific materials. This post will go over the common non-vegan materials you are likely to find within your clothing and how you can avoid buying them.

Vegan Clothing: Leather

The very obvious animal material that is commonly known is leather. Leather can appear on belts, coats, shoes and even leather patches on jeans. Leather garments can be made from cows, alligators, pigs, sheep or deer. Leather is a symbol of quality; therefore, it will be reflected on the price and the labelling. It will explicitly have stickers stating its leather or it will have a stamp stating that the garment is leather upper which means its authentic leather. Cheap leather is made of synthetic leather and this will be reflected on labelling stating that the material is manmade. The labelling will help you easily differentiate between the two.

vegan clothing
vegan clothing

Vegan Clothing: Fur

Fur can be found on winter garments like jackets, coats and hats. It can appear as a large fabric or smaller trimmings and attachments. Fur is harder to differentiate as there are no legal regulations that require retail stores to explicitly label fur correctly. The UK has banned fur farms but retailers are allowed to import and sell fur. (HSI)


An investigation by the Humane Society International in 2018 revealed that retailers and independent stores had garments labelled as faux fur which contained real fur. Despite the EU regulation requiring clear labelling of products, retailers do not comply with this rule. This makes it impossible to figure out if a garment contains real fur. This is made harder by the prevalence of online retailers. 


Unlike leather, real fur can often be cheaper than synthetic making it more profitable for retailers to use real fur instead to gain a higher profit. Since it is cheaper, it will not be labelled clearly and will only contain information on what the fabrics are made of. This makes it harder to detect real fur.


A method to figure out if something is real fur is by looking at the base of the fur material. If it is real fur, the base will be leathery like skin. If it is faux, it will be attached to a woven fabric base. Another way is by looking at the tips of the ‘hairs’. If it is real, it will taper and if it is faux, it will be cut bluntly. You can, also, do a quick search on Google to see if the particular retailer has a history of mislabelling fur. This will be an effective way to distinguish online retailers too. 


It would be advisable not to trust online retailers like Amazon and eBay because a lot of their garments are imported from countries that have loose regulations on animal welfare and labelling on garments. Be vigilant and aware. (HSI), (BBC).

Vegan Clothing: Wool

When considering vegan clothing wool may be one material overlooked to most consumers. A common misconception with wool is that it’s simply a haircut for sheep but that’s far from the truth. Sheep are genetically modified to produce more wool. This greatly inhibits the quality of life for the sheep. This also means excessive shearing which can cause cuts on the sheepskin which can become infected and infested with fleas and flies. To prevent parasitic infections, mulesing is done on the sheep. (FashionUnited). Mulesing is “stripping off the skin around the breach and tail stumps” without anaesthesia. This places the sheep in immense pain and stress. (AnimalsAustralia).


It’s hard to tell what industrial practices retailers are using to manufacture their products so it is better to avoid wool. You can check the labels to find out if something is made of wool. Unlike fur, wool makes up the majority of most winter garments which means companies have to label this accordingly. Check the label and see if an alternative is used instead. For vegan clothing alternatives, materials like cotton, hemp, Tencel, acrylic are great replacements for wool. (PlantBasedNews). Check the labels before you place them in your basket.

vegan clothing
vegan clothing

Vegan Clothing:
Feather and Down

Feathers can be found in trimmings for garments, insulation or fill for jackets and winter coats. Feather, like wool, is plucked from animals like geese and ducks which cause pain and distress to the animal. (FashinIsta). 


Unlike fur and leather, birds shed their feathers naturally on a cyclical basis. For an industry that’s more concerned with profitability, waiting for birds to naturally shed is not the most efficient method of production. However, small companies are selling and using naturally moulted feathers to be used within their garments but they are hard to come by. Besides, it is unclear whether such companies actually use humane farming practices. 


Another consideration is the type of feathers being used. Ostrich feathers, for example, are widely used in fashion but ostriches don’t go through the natural moulting cycle so the feathers are obtained by plucking while they are alive or they are killed and plucked. 


So how can you avoid garments using feathers? Seek out alternatives that are used instead of feather. Alternatives such as cotton, polyester, Primaloft and Thinsulate are used more widely instead of feather for insulation in puffer jackets. Check the fill type or the insulation type to find out if the puffer jacket is filled with feathers or one of the man-made alternatives. Feather is also commonly present in duvets and pillows so check the labels to make sure that the fill type is not bird feathers.

Vegan Clothing: sILK

Silk can be found in clothing like dresses, pillowcases, hair scrunchies and underwear. (Britannica). The method of making silk is inherently not vegan as the production of silk requires the silk-producing larvae to be killed before it grows into a moth and escapes out of the cocoon it builds around itself. They are killed by boiling or being gassed by hot air. (Quartz). The industrial practices to produce silk is also cruel as they store female egg-producing moths and keep the male moths in a semi-frozen state till they are ready to mate.  (EcoWarriorPrincess). 

While there are questions of whether the animals can feel the pain, the act of requiring an animal to be killed for a material to be produced is in itself exploitative. The cocoon is what is used to produce the silk so letting the larvae growing into a moth and break out of the cocoon will mean that the cocoon will be destroyed in the process. 

Another argument is that if the silk is not mass produced as is instead ‘wild silk where the cocoons are obtained after the moth has left the cocoon, then this would be more ethical. While there is merit to this argument, it would be hard to trace whether the silk was actually wild-silk or if it was actually industrially produced. There are no legislations that require companies to state this explicitly and by no means is it investigated so it is better to avoid non-vegan silk altogether and opt for alternatives. (VeganFriendly).

Check your labels to make sure that the fabrics used within your garments are not silk. Usually, silk is more expensive, therefore, it will be mentioned within the label but be vigilant regardless. Seek out alternatives like lotus silk, cactus silk (BagOfEthics), peace silk or Ahimsa silk, man-made spider silk (Eluxemagazine), orange silk, Tencel, cupro, micro silk,(EcoWarriorPrincess), polyester, and soy silk (VeganFriendly).

vegan clothing
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