The fashion industry has always been in the crosshairs of animal rights organizations—and as we can see from many of the furry Fall 2015 collections, cruelty-free clothing is not exactly trending. Most of us are unaware of the origins of our outfits—whether it is unsafe factories or traumatic treatment of animals to make our clothes, we’re so removed from the process it’s easy to turn a blind eye.
Cruelty-free clothes are easier to find than you think. Peta also has a list of approved retailers on their site to help you find compassionate clothing options…and you can be on the lookout for the PETA approved vegan logo to ensure that the products you purchase are 100% cruelty free.
We aren’t advocating a massive boycott of every retailer until they switch their entire inventory to cruelty-free, but we can all make a conscious decision to purchase pieces that aren’t made from animal materials and eventually the fashion firms will respond.
Head-to-toe you can outfit yourself in pieces that won’t weigh on your conscience, from affordable brands like Stella McCartney, Target, Steve Madden, Free People, H&M and Zara.
This is a perfectly sustainable (and adorable) outfit for summer. Denim dress (Zara $80), Straw Hat (ASOS $26), Faux leather tote (Old Navy $30) and strappy sandals (Free People $78).
Start with your head. Clockwise from top left: Straw fedora (ASOS $26), Floppy hat (Uniqlo $20), Bucket hat (Uniqlo $15), Ribbed beanie (Zara $18)
For spring and summer you can don straw and canvas fedoras or sun hats—just make sure none are trimmed or banded in leather. For fall and winter it can be hard to say no to a luxurious cashmere beanie, but there are plenty of cotton or synthetic options that will keep you just as warm and don’t require shearing goats.
Clothing is easy: If you stay away from wool, silk, suede, angora, leather, and fur you’re in the clear. Summer is the obvious easy season to stay cruelty-free because the uniform for hot weather is cotton or linen.
For winter it gets trickier, but layers of compassionate clothing are better than cashmere, down, and fur-trimmed anything. And there is always down alternative. Sure the warmth of real fur is unparalleled, but how many of us are traversing frozen tundra in Siberia?
Luxury clotting brand Canada Goose was recently the subject of a Daily Mail article exposing the cruel treatment of animals to make their coyote fur-trimmed coats. PETA has been after Canada Goose to stop trapping and skinning coyotes and switch to a humane synthetic alternative, as other brands like Patagonia and North Face have.
Clockwise from top left: Dirty Laundry Vegan Sandals (Alternative Outfitters $39), Free People Vegan Redlands Footbed (Free People $78), Master & Muse Sydney Brown Sandals (YOOX.COM $410), Amber Red flats from Roni Kantor (Mooshoes.com $140), Tory Burch denim espadrilles (Tory Burch $135) and H&M platform Sandals (H&M $30).
It is a challenge to find a shoe with a sleek look made from animal-friendly materials. I have scoured the web to find stylish looks that are cruelty-free pieces that won’t look granola hippie-dippie. MooShoes is a great site for stocking up on cruelty-free footwear. And lucky for us, this is the season of the sneaker! There are also endless non-leather sneaker options that can work with just about any outfit.
Style Tip: Any sneaker can look polished if you’re wearing mostly all black (and this is not just the New Yorker in me talking). Superga sneakers come in an array of colors and most are priced under $100.
Handbags/accessories is another easy category. Clockwise from top left: Baggu Duck Bag (Baggu $32), Free People Slouchy Vegan Tote (Free People $68), LL Bean Hunter’s canvas tote (llbean.com $29), Matt & Nat Clutch (mattandnat.com $90).
Plenty of handbags constructed of man-made materials are just as supple and beautiful as real leather. If you can’t imagine toting around a faux-leather bag, the canvas tote is always in style! And LL Bean can monogram yours for you. The other upside to non-leather accessories: they’re more affordable, so you can splurge on a few different styles for less than the cost of one leather bag.
For more cruelty-free fashion inspiration, check out our compassionate clothing board on Pinterest.
Top photo courtesy Free People