vegan leather: controversial clothing

Trying to live in a more ethical and sustainable way is about constant improvement. It’s fascinating speaking to others about how they balance modern life with the quest to live in an environmentally friendly way. This becomes even more difficult when you’re running a business, trying to find harmony with creating products that you can be proud of, doing the least damage possible, and of course, making profit. The challenges faced by a company trying to be environmentally friendly are no more extreme than in the fashion industry, where you are competing with brands that will cut every corner, using the cheapest labour and the cheapest materials.

Fortunately, with globalisation making it easier to see the effects we as consumers are having on the planet, we are becoming much more conscious of our purchasing power. People are shopping more ethically, and brands are reacting to this. Recently I have been seeing ‘vegan leather’ everywhere, most commonly made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. The toxic chemicals involved in the production of these materials, the difficulty of recycling them and their inability to biodegrade makes them an environmental issue. Though not comparable to the environmental damage caused by the leather industry, these problems can not be ignored.

Fortunately, there are a few pioneering brands out there, constantly researching new ways in which to make their garments more environmentally friendly. The vegan shoe company Beyond Skin have introduced 100% recycled PU throughout their collections, showing us just how to do no (environmental) strings attached with style. Matt & Nat, my latest bag obsession, have been experimenting with many different materials since they opened in 2007, and have even started using bicycled tyres! With every style you could ever need in a huge range of colours, their crisp, minimalist designs give the eco-warrior a stylish update. Lastly, the queen of cruelty free style, Stella McCartney. With by far the highest profile vegan leather brand out there under her belt,  Stella is an animal rights activist and a lifelong vegetarian. All of her products are of the highest quality, and the faux leather is unrecognisable from the real thing, bringing vegan leather into the mainstream.

Ethical blogging is a fantastic experience, as it leads me to research so many different subjects, all around the world. But reading about the devastation being done to our planet can be disheartening to say the least. It is so lovely to read about companies such as these, creating better products than the competition, without sacrificing their morals.

 

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Black Alter Coco Belt · £325 · Stella McCartney

Hamel Bag · £115 · Matt & Nat

Black Pip Sandals · £89 · Beyond Skin

Chanda Bag · £98 · Matt & Nat

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