Vegan leather's new darling -veganjean
Driven by demand and an industry-wide call for more ethical manufacturing, fashion brands are moving veganism out of the kitchen and into the closets of conscious consumers with animal-free apparel and accessories.
Though momentum for vegan fashion has been mounting since 2018—a year that saw Helsinki Fashion Week ban leather, and luxury giants like Gucci, Chanel and Versace eliminate the use of real fur in their collections—the category has recently exploded partly in response to Covid-19, which has led to the growing concern about infectious diseases that originate from animals. The pandemic, coupled with the overall shift toward healthier plant-based lifestyles, are motivating brands and consumers alike to reconsider their fabric choices.
More than 580,000 people took the pledge during the 2021 campaign, adding to the more than one million people who have already completed it since 2014. Veganuary reports that one million people going vegan for 31 days has resulted in the lives of 3.4 million animals spared, 1.6 million gallons on water saved and more than 103,000 metric ton of CO2EQ saved from contributing to the planet’s global warming crisis.
Veganism is proving to go beyond consumers’ dietary choices. In its 2020 Conscious Fashion Report, fashion search platform Lyst reported that searches for “vegan leather” increased 69 percent year-on-year, averaging 33,100 online monthly searches, and searches for “faux leather” remained constant. Meanwhile, searches for “leather” decreased 3.5 percent year-on-year. Likewise, searches for “fur” declined 8 percent year-on-year.
Stylish vegan fashion is certainly more available. Retail market intelligence platform Edited reported that by the end of January 2021, there was a 75 percent year-over-year increase in products described as “vegan” stocked in the U.S. and U.K. versus 2018. Accessories and footwear make up the majority of these products as influential labels like Adidas, Allbirds and Stella McCartney continue to innovate in this space with plant leather, upcycled marine plastic waste and 3D-printed materials.
Though the denim industry has been proactive in developing alternatives for water-intensive crops and chemical-powered washing processes, as it continues its sustainable journey, every component that makes up a pair of jeans—down to the three-inch by two-inch leather back patch—is being scrutinized.