By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, EcoStiletto
Want a fashion update that won’t harm the planet? Go vegan. Vegan products contain no animal ingredients such as wool, fur, leather or even silk (unless it’s peace silk—more on that later), nor are they tested on animals.
As livestock and poultry production tipped the scales in 2009, claiming responsibility for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions (according to the Worldwatch Institute), many environmentalists began to avoid animal products as the next step in an ongoing search to shrink their carbon footprints.
Who’s gone vegan? According to the Vegetarian Times, nearly one percent of Americans—more than one million people—neither consume nor use any animal products, while seven million of us are vegetarians, and more than 22 million primarily follow a plant-based diet.
Veganism isn’t a science, and those who live cruelty-free make their own decisions when it comes to what they will or will not wear. Some flat-out won’t wear anything made from animals; others will wear “humanely-harvested” wool, or ahimsa, also known as “peace silk,” in which the worm is allowed to live out its lifecycle, rather than killed, to extract the silk inside its cocoon.
Vegan celebrities include Alanis Morrisette, Alicia Silverstone, Alyssa Milano, Andre 3000, Chrissie Hynde, Daryl Hannah, Elijah Wood, Ellen Degeneres, Emily Deschanel, Erykah Badu, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jenny McCarthy, Joaquin Phoenix, Woody Harrelson and Zooey Deschanel, to name a few.
And you can be sure these red-carpet regulars aren’t skimping on style. To prove it, we put together a short list of our favorite animal-friendly designs that show you can be as sexy and sustainable as the next ecoista—without harming a soul.
Take Vaute Couture. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart started the line when she realized that, with most coats made from wool or down, vegans in her hometown of Chicago, IL spent their winters shivering. (After all, there’s only so much you can layer for a snowstorm.) Leanne’s gorgeous coats are made from recyclable fabrics and vintage buttons, and she uses excess fabric to create limited edition, couture pieces—like this upcycled origami-inspired windbreaker dress that she’s giving to one lucky EcoStiletto Member.
Or ecoSkin, which showed in the Vegan Fashion Show that we produced as part of last year’s Green Blogger Convention, and whose new WHOLEGARMENT collection is the first-ever to completely eliminate textile waste from its manufacturing process. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, each piece in the collection is woven entirely from French organic cotton yarn—no cutting, sewing, scraps or seams—to create gorgeous, sexy dresses and tunics that cling in all the right places. No wonder style-savvy boutiques like Fred Segal Emphatic are snapping this line up for spring.
As the founder of Olsen Haus, which created 2009’s Holy Grail of EcoStilettos, Elizabeth Olsen spearheaded the environmentally conscious vegan shoe and accessories movement in the U.S. Rather than depending on dioxin-emitting PVC, Olsen Haus looks for synthetic materials made as part of a closed-loop process, which emit no water or air pollution and biodegrade as fast as animal skin. This year, she launched a line of Babylon ballet flats crafted in faux suede made from recycled television screens. No, really.
Want more vegan ideas for your spring wardrobe? Check out EcoStiletto!