Five Vegan Fashion Trends You’ll Be Wearing in 2021
by Sascha Camilli
Vegan fashion continues to grow in popularity – thanks to groundbreaking eyewitness investigations, consumers are learning more about animal abuse and environmental destruction in the skins and wool trades. Today, we also know that exploiting and killing animals for clothing poses a risk to our own health – fur and exotic skins are two industries that have links to the coronavirus pandemic.
Luckily, there’s never been a better time to get into vegan fashion. Innovative companies are using plant-based materials to create designs that are kinder to the planet as well as to animals, including humans. Below, we’ve listed the five vegan trends that fashion lovers will be fawning over in 2021.
It was 2020 that put the final nail in the fur industry’s coffin. After outbreaks of the novel coronavirus on mink farms around the world, countries such as France, the Netherlands, and Poland announced fur-farming bans.
Faux fur is always a kinder choice for the environment and animals. But are synthetic materials the only vegan fur option? Not according to faux-fur manufacturer ECOPEL, which has developed KOBA, a material partially made with corn from the biofuel industry. KOBA, the production of which uses 30% less energy and emits 63% fewer greenhouse gases than that of traditional faux fur, was among the winners of the 2019 PETA Fashion Awards and has been used in high-end coats by Stella McCartney. Recently, Stella teamed up with PETA to send one of the coats to Italian screen icon Sophia Loren for her 86th birthday. Sophia loved the gift, posing for an Instagram shot in which she showed just how glamorous vegan fur can look.
Leather that comes from slaughtered cows is old hat. Consumers everywhere are waking up to the fact that the leather industry is part of animal agriculture – one of the worst offenders when it comes to climate change. Leather is also the biggest killer of animals in fashion, claiming over 1 billion lives each year. Today, the most sought-after leather accessories are those made from natural, plant-based sources, and the latest innovation is cactus leather. Created by Mexican material innovation company DESSERTO and used by vegan accessory brand LUXTRA, cactus leather is organic and partly biodegradable – and saves water, as cacti don’t require irrigation. Luxurious and long-lasting, cactus leather is the vegan leather of the future.
Whether it’s sheep’s wool, cashmere, alpaca, or angora, knitwear made using animals has been proved again and again to be cruel. Sheep shearers even pleaded guilty to cruelty-to-animals charges after being caught on video abusing sheep. It’s time to drop wool – and today, we no longer have to choose between animal fleece and synthetics. Just like with leather, the material innovations in vegan wool come from the plant kingdom. Indian company FABORG has created Weganool – a material made from rain-fed organic cotton blended with fibres from Calotropis, a plant that grows in desert areas with no need for water or pesticides. Lightweight, soft, and 100% animal-free, Weganool nabbed the Innovation Award in the 2020 PETA Fashion Awards.
Many people are aware of the ways in which animals suffer for fur and leather, but not everyone knows about the hidden cruelty behind silk. The horrifying production practices of silk involve worms being boiled alive in their cocoons, requiring the lives of around 6,600 worms for just one kilo of silk. The material has also been found by the Higg Index to have a devastating impact on the environment. A great vegan replacement is bamboo silk, which is loved by eco-conscious designers for its softness, drape, and naturally silky texture. Bamboo can also be a planet-friendly choice: in addition to being animal-free, it doesn’t require chemical fertilisers.
Biodegradable Vegan Leather
Vegan leather that’s biodegradable will soon be a reality, thanks to Natural Fiber Welding, the company behind Mirum – a plant-based leather made from agricultural waste. This supple, abrasion-resistant material is made by bonding together natural composites, and it’s fully biodegradable. Cutting-edge designer duo Felder Felder, whose brand is 100% animal-free, has used Mirum in its London Fashion Week presentation, proving once again that killing animals for leather is out and plant-based innovation is in.
The Future of Fashion Is Vegan
Vegan fashion – clothes, shoes, and accessories that don’t contain leather, fur, wool, exotic skins, or any other animal-derived material – is revolutionising the way that we shop and dress. Check out our guides to help you make compassionate choices while shopping:
And speak out for animals abused for fashion: