The booming trend of vegan style and fashion comes as no surprise after millions of millennials and younger generations drop animal foods from their diets. An obvious next step for these ethically-minded individuals is stripping animal products from their wardrobe and beauty routine. But where do you even get started? What even is vegan style? How can you tell if a shoe is vegan? How can you tell if a piece of clothing is vegan? I’ll answer all these questions and more within this post. By the way, can you tell all four of my outfits below are vegan?
What is Vegan Style?
Let’s be real, “vegan” can be a scary word. It’s a loaded term that has a wide array of interpretations depending on who you ask. Let me offer some clarity on how I define “vegan”. I define vegan as a diet and lifestyle that uses zero animal products or animal by-products. I don’t wear fur, silk, feathers, leather, wool, or use any other product that comes from animals. You may be asking yourself, “Well what do vegans wear?” It seems restrictive but it’s really not, in fact, you’re probably already wearing vegan outfits all the time and you don’t even know it.
How Do I Know If My Outfit Is Vegan?
Figuring out if your outfit is vegan is pretty simple. Grab an item of clothing and look at the tag. If the tag lists any of the following materials, it is not vegan. If it doesn’t, it is vegan.
- Calf hair
- Faux feathers
- Fox Fur
- Merino wool
- Rabbit Fur
If your garment doesn’t contain any of these animal materials, then congratulations, it’s vegan!
How to tell if shoes are vegan?
There are a few different ways to tell if a shoe is vegan or not. Grab a pair of your shoes and look on the upper inner area near the heel. There you’ll find the shoe material composition listed. You can also find this information on the back of the shoe tongue, on the band of the shoe, or on the strap of women’s heels. The most common animal materials used in shoemaking are the following. If the shoe contains any of these materials, it is not vegan.
- Calf hair
- Fox Fur
- Rabbit Fur
If your shoes don’t contain any of the materials listed above, then congratulations they’re vegan!
What Are Those Symbols on the Bottom of Shoes?
You can also look at the bottom of a shoe to see if it’s vegan. Most shoes will have a clear sticker with black or gold symbols indicating what that shoe is made from. Use the key below to figure out if your shoes are vegan or not. The two symbols on the left are not vegan. The first sign is the universal symbol for leather, aka cow skin. The second symbol is for coated leather. The third symbol is for textile; this indicates the shoe is made form fabrics, typically viscose or cotton. The last symbol (first on the right) stands for all other materials, including man made materials. Man made materials are synthetic materials, you’ll typically see “all man made materials” printed on the bottom or inside of nearly all vegan leather shoes.
Here’s an example of leather symbols on the bottom of a leather shoe
Example of faux leather symbol on the bottom of a vegan leather shoe
For higher-end shoes, it’s common to see the leather symbol embedded in the shank of the shoe.
Some of the best vegan and cruelty-free fashion brands
There are currently lots of amazing vegan fashion brands offering cruelty-free shoes and clothing. The vegan fashion scene has really eploded this past year. Dozens of new brands have launched just in the the last year from 2018 to 2019, and there are currently dozens more preparing to launch. Even history fashion houses like Gucci and Hugo boss have dropped some animal products and introduced faux fur and vegan shoes.
Perhaps the most well known vegan fashion brand (and one of my favorites) is Stella McCartney. Her ultra recognizable handbags are stylish and mimic suede really well and are completely vegan. Click on any of the products below to shop.
Cult of Coquette
One of my favorite vegan high heels shoe brands is Cult of Coquette. If you’re looking for a vegan version or just a cheaper version of a Christian Louboutin So Kate heel, take a look at Cult of Coquette’s Gloria heels. They’re nearly identical to the So Kate heel but they’re cruelty-free! Another great shopping site for vegan shoes is Beyon Skin. They offer a wide range of vegan shoes and accessories for women; they even offer vegan bridal shoes!
Will’s Vegan Store
For men’s vegan leather shoes, one of my favorite online retailers is Will’s Vegan Store. They offer a wide range of men’s vegan leather shoes from many different vegan and sustainable brands. They options range from casaul sneakers to high end dress shoes. If you want good quality vegan men’s shoes or vegan leather belts and accessories, take a look at Will’s Vegan Store.
A Special Note About Feathers
Feathers are often used as accessories or as embellishments on clothing. Most recently, we saw gowns at the MET gala made almost entirely of feathers. While feathers on some of those brightly hued gowns can seem fake, unfortunately, they are entirely real. You may have purchased a feather boa or feathers from your local craft store at some point in your life. Those feathers are also real, meaning they come from real birds. Bird are forcibly held down and violently plucked without, any sedative, for their feathers. The birds are often left bloody, hurt, but still alive to be plucked again in the near future.
Fake Feathers Are Not Fake
After posting about Kylie Jenner’s feather-embellished MET gala on my instagram feed, I received a few dozen messages and comments stating those feathers were fake. They certainly look fake and I wish they were but they are not. Brightly colored or patterned feathers look fake because they are dyed or stamped with unnatural looking colors. You can find “faux feathers” for sale online or at you local craft store, however they are not fake. They are marked as “faux” because they have been dyed or stamped so they no longer have their natural color; however, they are still sourced from real birds.
The only true faux feathers that I’ve been able to find, that are not sourced from animals, are made from wood or paper and you can certainly tell they are not real bird feathers. As of the writing of this post, I have not been able to find a vendor for authentic looking non-animal sourced feathers. I messaged several dozen online retailers marketing faux-feathers and they confirmed their feathers are sourced from animals. They are listed as “faux” because they are dyed or altered to look unnatural. If you’re buying a garment or accessory with feathers, chances are those feathers are real and you should look for a cruelty-free alternative.