The search for the perfect vegan coat

For the past few months I have been a woman obsessed… Absolutely consumed with the search for the perfect vegan coat! I have never really owned a proper winter coat, I’ve only ever had jackets and always suffered the consequences. But now I’m growing up and trying my hardest to ‘adult’, I realise it’s time to invest in a real coat. I need one that can protect me against all the elements, you know, one that would see you through an Alaskan snowstorm? 

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My search has been seriously hampered by the fact that most of the coats I liked the look of had down as the insulation layer, or sheep wool lining, and some even had real fur as the trim to the hood! Are we still so pre-historic that designers feel the need to swaddle us in dead animal pelts?? Not me anyway! I like my fashion without murder thank you very much. 

What’s wrong about down I hear you ask? To get as much down feathers as possible in the quickest amount of time, they literally rip the feathers off the body of a goose as it’s held upside down and continue to pluck until they are bald from the neck down. They then return them to their squalled living conditions until their feathers grow back (typically 6-7 weeks) and are then put through the ordeal all over again. This process is repeated until the goose is killed for it’s meat or foie gras (don’t trust anyone who eats this), or dies from the trauma of the plucking. Check out this video by PETA interviewing Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute, as she explains why it’s not only barbaric, but also unnecessary to use down for anything (warning graphic content)

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For similar reasons we shouldn’t wear anything with fur or sheep wool, it’s out-dated, cruel and completely needless. Oh and for anyone who thinks sheep shearing isn’t cruelty against animals, just think to yourself, would I like someone to hold me down and take an electric razor to my skin without my consent? If the answer is no, how can you justify doing it to another living being? And if that still doesn’t convince you, have a look at this video from a shearing shed in the USA (warning graphic content)

And so began my mission to find myself a beautiful, practical and cruelty-free vegan coat… Let me tell you, it has not been easy – like most of my missions! I was shocked to find out that nearly all the big name brands were using down. North Face, Berghaus and Uniqlo were just some of the ones who I expected better from and was sadly disappointed by. I realised that a lot of the time people may not even know what down is or how it’s produced, and probably don’t think twice about grabbing a nice, warm coat off the rack when winter is coming! Well, you lucky dogs, I’ve done the legwork for you and put together a list of the vegan coats I’ve found and the people behind the designs trying to make the outwear industry more vegan-friendly!

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Wully Outerwear uses PrimaLoft as an insulation material avoiding the use of down feathers from duck/geese. They believe staying warm shouldn’t come at the expense of animals and even donate some of their profits to animal charities. The Doe Parka comes in black, blue and green and has an ideal temperature suggestion of +8 to -30°C – perfect for weather conditions from Bristol to Russia! Their prices range from $299 - $729 (£212 - £518) – sounds like a lot but imagine buying a cheaply made coat every year for £100, after 5 years you would have gone through the same amount of money and thrown away 5 coats, whereas this coat will most likely last you around 10 years!

Wully Outerwear isn’t just kind to the animals and planet, but all the lovely humans who help make their coats! Their focus on positive social impact means they make fair labour practices mandatory along all levels of our supply chain and their manufacturing facilities implement some of the highest labour standards in the world.

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Save The Duck are one of my favourite vegan brands, I love their coats and jackets so much and really applaud their approach to sustainability and environmentalism within the fashion industry. They use PLUMTECH for the padding of their coats instead of down as it mimics the softness and lightness of feathers – without the cruelty! It is warmer, more breathable, waterproof and hygienic than down – no contest if you ask me. Oh and if that wasn’t enough, it’s also made from 100% recycled plastic bottles!! I mean come on, what more can they do?!

Many celebrities have opted for a Save The Duck coat over down coats, including Megan Fox, Jimmy Fallon, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, to name a few. Prices range from €149 - €219 (£131 - £193)

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Vaute Couture are known as the first vegan fashion brand and launched in 2008 with the mission of taking animals out of the fashion equation and providing innovative alternatives. I really love the avant-garde designs, which challenge our preconceptions of silhouette and textures of outerwear and their garments always look fresh off the runway! They use organic cotton and recycled fibers to create a range of coats, gowns, sweaters and swimsuits. What I really love about them is their honesty, on their website they even say, “We aren’t perfect, but we do our best every day to make this world better and speak up for those who cannot.”

As you’d expect, they are quite expensive, but you’d be putting your money towards a company with real ethics and motivation to make change happen in an industry that desperately needs it! Women’s coats range from $475 - $675 (£337 - £480).

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Okay, I think I may have saved you the best till last… HoodLamb by Hemp Tailors started out in the nineties as the first company to make a winter jacket out of hemp. An official PETA approved brand, they are at the forefront of the vegan outwear industry and truly set the bar high for a commitment to ethical, conscious clothing. They are also a member of One Percent For The Planet (this is something I will go into more detail about in a separate post), meaning they give at least 1% of their annual revenue to help create a healthier planet.

Using premium hemp, HoodLamb coats bring together the power of the Earth’s strongest natural fiber and the classic, yet modern, designs that results in absolutely gorgeous coats you’ll want to wear all year round. They use Thermore® EcoDown, a lightweight vegan down insulation, to ensure protection up to -5 degrees Celsius. Prices range from €185 - €499 (£163 - £439).

I actually loved their coats so much I bought myself the Ladies Nordic Light Parka and will post photos of it and give a review ASAP!!

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Special mention: Patagonia

I couldn’t not give these guys a mention! Well known for being environmentally sound, Patagonia uses organic cotton and recycled materials like polyester and nylon. They also use innovative fabrics like Tencel Lyocell (we should all be buying this!) and Yulex, a natural rubber that replaces non-renewable neoprene.

However, Patagonia still uses down but has committed to only using recycled wool and down, that would have otherwise been thrown on landfill, from companies that are accredited by the Global Traceable Down Standard. This standard, which Patagonia helped to develop, guarantees that the birds are not force-fed or live-plucked. It’s a step in the right direction and Good On You, the ethical shopping app, rated them overall as ‘Good’ – which equates to 4/5.

As a vegan I wouldn’t buy any products with down, recycled or not, but they also provide a wide range of jackets with synthetic insulation called PlumaFill. These are vegan and will provide as much warmth and protection as any down product would. Prices range from £120 - £400.

PS – You probably already know this but please please please do not buy any Canada Goose product!! They use real coyote fur, goose down and sheep wool and shearling. Please sign this petition to prevent Canada Goose opening their first UK store on Regent’s Street, London!