“NO LEATHER, NO FEATHERS, OR FUR.”
This statement by fashion designer Stella McCartney is the simplest rule of the vegan dress code.
Vegan friendly clothes are made from fabrics thatcontain threads and materials derived from plants or man-made synthetic materials. Plant materials are often derived from cotton, hemp, banana, jute, bamboo and flax. It is easy to get clothes that fit this description. Non-leather shoes and clothes are now available in many clothing retailers. But there is another side to the this story. How they are made is what should matter even more!
The world’s population boomed in the 20th century. The population grew from 1.6 billion in the 1900s to over 6 billion in the 2000s. The demand for clothing also increased. Naturally huge industries grew to meet the increase in demand. With price pressures, many factories are now located in the developing world, where working conditions are far from ideal. Workers in these factories receive minimal wages and have little or no workers rights. In a Utopian world all people should be able to source all clothing from ethical and environmentally friendly sources. However, in today’s world this is not possible. You can however make a conscious decision to use and buy Fairtrade and ethical clothing. This results in better working conditions and wages for the workers, and generally you get a better quality product. If you want to check any companies in regards to their standards here is what you should look for:
1. Does the company have an ethical sourcing code?
2. Is this information readily available.
3. Does the company adhere to International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.
Suitable clothing can be found in Galway City. A lot of small stores sell ethically made clothes such as Kembali. There is also a huge selection of second-hand charity shops where you can get clothes ranging from sensible work clothes to crazy wigs and costumes. Many shoe shops will help you select a shoe which is made without any animal products. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
So without further ado here are some of the Fairtrade/ethical companies who care about people:
- Brain Tree UK
- People Tree UK
- The Hemp Shop UK (selling clothes and fabric made out of hemp fabric)
- Patagonia USA
- Grown Clothing IRL
- Prairie Organic (based in Tuam)
An excellent website to research and learn about ethical, sustainable fashion is www.ecotuerre.com. For any of you who enjoy sewing, one of the best sources of high quality organic and ethical fabrics has to be Offset Warehouse (UK). NAE is a Portuguese company that makes great shoes made out of recycled PVC bottles and natural cork tree material. A great website for vegan shoes is www.avesu.eu, a German company which sells a great range of brands such as; Vegetarian shoes UK, Noah - elegant Italian shoes and Opificio - Milano.
One fascinating new fabric is Pinatex. It is made out of discarded pineapple leaves, it is waterproof and looks like leather (Carmen Hijosa worked for 7 years developing this material). Puma were the first brand to use Pinatex in their shoes. Other brands are following (NAE and Vegan shoes).