Vegan materials for Fall
As much as I hate to bid summer farewell, there is something nice about this time of year when the temperature drops and you start to see the leaves turning colour. I claim to be a summer-girl but really I am a sucker for warm layers, hot drinks and, of course, Christmas! So maybe I am a winter-girl and I should just make my peace with that?
However you feel about the upcoming change in season, we all have to accept that we’ll soon be in need of warmer clothes to see us through the colder days. A lot of people who have gone vegan may be wondering about the types of materials they can wear now, and how to avoid anything animal-based, especially over autumn/winter.
One of the most commonly used materials in the UK during the colder months is wool. A common misconception about wool is that it is a by-product, when in fact there are different breeds used for different purposes, so there are sheep bred for wool and sheep bred for meat. It’s also widely believed that because sheep would suffer if they weren’t sheared, it would be cruel not to take their wool. While in principal this is true, what’s not discussed is the fact that the reason these sheep have so much wool is that humans have artificially bred them over hundreds of years to produce an unnatural amount of wool for our own consumption. Left alone, sheep would have only produced enough wool to keep them warm in winter and would be able to shed it naturally for the warmer months. Along with wool, shearling is also popular in winter, and this is made from the skin and coat of a sheep or a lamb who was shorn shortly before slaughter; the skin is tanned with the wool still on it.
Another typical material used in winter garments and footwear is leather, often marketed as ‘luxury’ or ‘heritage style’. The truth is, leather is the most damaging material to the environment, causes immense amounts of suffering to the animals and the chemicals harm the people who have to process the hides. With so many ethical, sustainable alternatives to cows leather now, why choose cruelty?
It can be confusing to know which materials you need to avoid if you’re following a vegan lifestyle, especially when they’re often called something obscure. Here’s a list of animal materials often used in autumn/winter clothing:
Wool (sheep, alpaca, mohair, angora, bison, cashmere, qiviut)
Exotic skins (alligator, crocodile, ostrich)
Down (feathers used in outerwear linings)
I’ve put together a list of vegan alternatives for you to pick from when shopping for your fall/winter clothing:
Organic Cotton instead of wool – can be knitted into jumpers and cardigans
Hemp – perfect for hardwearing outerwear like coats and jackets
Faux shearling – plastic-based but less water/land use than from a sheep
Faux fur – so much available second hand that you can save from landfill!
Apple/pineapple leather/suede instead of cow’s leather - makes great boots and jackets
Tencel/Lyocell – perfect for light layers
In these photos I’m wearing a second hand Mango knitted jumper that’s made from 100% cotton. It keeps me warm and is perfect for layering up over the colder months. I’ll be including more about material swaps on my blogs so you guys can veganize your wardrobes and know exactly where your clothes come from. Let me know what you guys have struggled with on your vegan fashion journey so far?