What Is Vegan Fashion?

Carol Luther

A lifestyle that avoids the consumption of meat is vegetarianism. Vegans take this philosophy further, declining to eat or wear anything made from any part of an animal. While vegans have numerous food options, vegan fashion requires forethought, planning and diligent attention to details. The clothes a vegan wears — shoes, gloves, hats, even accessories such as jewelry and luggage — need to meet the specifications of the vegan lifestyle.

Lyocell is a petroleum-based wood pulp product.
Lyocell is a petroleum-based wood pulp product.

Vegans try to avoid participating in what they consider to be cruelty to animals for man’s benefit. Leather, fur, wool and lambskin are all examples of clothing materials that vegans choose not to wear. Down, the product used as insulation in cold-weather clothing and bedding, comes from geese and other birds and also is against vegan fashion rules. Even silk, produced by silkworms, is unacceptable as a clothing material for vegans. This philosophy means vegans must look at other materials to find suitable options for shoes, clothing and accessories, as well as home furnishings.

Some clothing stores specialize in vegan fashion.
Some clothing stores specialize in vegan fashion.

Despite its restrictions, vegan fashion provides numerous material options. Natural products from plants — cotton, hemp, linen and bamboo — are suitable for clothing, household furnishings, footwear and accessories. Items manufactured with these materials replace leather, fur, down and silk. Vegan clothing produced from soy plant fibers round out the main natural plant fashion options.

Some fashion designers may specialize in vegan fashion.
Some fashion designers may specialize in vegan fashion.

Rubber, although produced by a manufacturing process that some might consider less than eco-friendly, is still a plant product that is cruelty-free. Recycled plastic has a significant place in vegan fashion. Repurposing it for vegan shoes, accessories and other couture options extends the life of this non-biodegradable petroleum product. Other petroleum-based synthetics that have found a place in vegan fashion include nylon, new and recycled polyester, rayon and lyocell.

Designers often use plant-based materials like hemp to make vegan clothing.
Designers often use plant-based materials like hemp to make vegan clothing.

Manufacturing processes that use animal products are not vegan friendly. Consumers must research new companies and brands before purchasing products that appear to be vegan. Industrial processes use hundreds of chemicals to create finished products. Some of these, such as mink oil, come from animals. One can ask the producer, if necessary, to verify vegan manufacturing processes or check unfamiliar products or the manufacturer against lists maintained by vegan fashion organizations and groups.

Vegan fashion emphasizes clothing made with natural products from plants.
Vegan fashion emphasizes clothing made with natural products from plants.

When seeking vegan fashion sources, one may want to consider big-box retailers that cater to consumers worldwide. Some clothing boutiques also specialize in the vegan niche. The choices for clothing, household goods and accessories cover all price points. Budget handbags and shoes may share the same spaces as designer vegan fashion seen on fashion show runways.

Vegan leather makes various quality products without harm to animals.
Vegan leather makes various quality products without harm to animals.

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Discussion Comments


Petroleum is dead animals. Using petroleum based clothing isn't any better than using wool.


Shopping online is probably the easiest way to find a lot of vegan choices. My best friend has found several sites where she orders some of her clothes and accessories from.

She has a couple of vegan purses that she ordered from an online store. These didn't cost any more than purses that I have bought before and were quite stylish looking.

More people are making vegan choices all the time and I think this is one industry that will continue to grow in the near future.


I have been aware of vegan choices when it comes to food for quite awhile now, but just recently was introduced to vegan fashion.

I was shopping with a friend of mine who is a vegan and we went to a vegan store where they had an assortment of vegan clothing.

To be honest with you, I really didn't even know this type of fashion existed, or that there was a name for it. I knew some people were opposed to wearing leather and clothing that was made from skins of animals, but my eyes were opened that day.

While I understand the commitment to their choices, I think it would be kind of hard to find a variety of clothing. I love to shop the sales and have never given any thought to my clothes and shoes being vegan.


I have only realized recently how little I know about vegan style, aside from the vegan opinion on leather. I have a friend who went way more strictly vegan, though, and she's taught me a lot. Before that I didn't even realize that vegans do not eat honey, technically, let alone that some are against the use of wool clothing.


@vogueknit17- I sort of have an agreement with myself about vegan and vegetarian clothing. I don't like to buy new leather, like brand new suede boots, but if I see something I like in a thrift store or charity shop, I usually buy it, even though it might be leather. To me, this is still lowering the demand for new leather, and otherwise those products will go to waste even when they can still be used. I don't know what someone who is really vegan would say about my argument, though.


I am a vegetarian, but I don't go to vegan extremes with my clothes. I do try to buy vegan boots and belts, or at least ones that are not from leather. But I love wool, I love to knit, and it just doesn't strike me as wrong to use wool from animals. I suppose if I knew that a brand was treating sheep poorly it would be different, but I know many companies in the yarn industry are very good to their animals.

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