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A Vegan Fashion Show: Meet The Brands Changing The Industry

Sica Schmitz

Posted on May 06 2018

A Vegan Fashion Show: Meet The Brands Changing The Industry

Words like "sustainable" and "ethical" can be very confusing because they can mean so many different things to different people and brands. And even if you do manage to narrow down a definition (here's how I define some), when it comes to fashion, it can be incredibly challenging to actually create and shop with these ideologies.

Fashion supply chains are long and complex - and so are people's values. For examle, while we may all say we believe in fair wages (we all agree on that, right?), companies (especially the very large ones, and very small ones) are not always able to trace every wage of every person who worked on their garment (from the fibers and textiles and notions and trims and dying and sewing and packaging and transportation and everyone in between), and individuals may not always be willing or able to pay for it, and so, how do you build a fashion brand that is entirely "sustainable" or "ethical" and also will be supported both in words and dollars by shoppers?

While it's very tempting to want to deal in absolutes around these touchy issues, and I've literally been told that I should go out of business rather than compromise on anything ever, I don't see that as a realistic way to create change. I think it's important for all of us - from brands to individuals - to make the best choices we can, and to have grace with ourselves and others when some ideologies are not feasible to offer or to offer exactly in the way we would prefer.

So, amidst these intricacies, what should we except from fashion brands?

This question has been the joyful challenge I was given in styling the upcoming Eat Drink Vegan and Seed Food + Wine Week fashion show, hosted with my friends and partners Vegetaryn, BeetxBeet, and Vegan Club. The entire show will be vegan (meaning it excludes all animal products, including leather, wool, silk, bone, feather, and fur), but, how should we define the ethics beyond that? Is it enough for the runway looks to be vegan, or do the brands need to only sell vegan products? Do the vegan brands need to be vegan owned? Do the vegan styles need to be specifically eco-friendly in some definable way (like, certified organic cotton), or is simply being vegan enough to be sustainable? Beyond only featuring vegan styles, what other qualities are important or mandatory to be present in the brands I choose? All this, and everything needs to look good, too!

Basically what I'm saying is: ethical fashion is complex, and figuring out answers to these many sustainability questions is an imperfect art, and yet, through this process I have found an immense amount of hope and optimism. Getting to know more about the incredible work so many brands are doing in the big and small details has left me energized and excited for the future of fashion, and I can't wait to share my conclusions on the runway.

Join us May 23rd at the Roxy in Los Angele for a night of vegan fashion and art, and meet the over 25 ethical brands I have hand picked for the catwalk. Tickets are $35 and include complimentary cocktails and plant based bites, with a portion of each ticket giving back to Mercy for Animals.

See you there!


There are a lot of issues, so let's take a moment and celebrate the good stuff. I asked some of my fashion show partners: what are you most proud of about your brand?


Bead & Reel

I'm really proud of a lot of things that I do at Bead & Reel because I truly put a lot of thought into every decision that gets made every day.
 
Not only are all the styles in my shop and blog both vegan and ethically made, with an emphasis on sustainable processes and female founders, but I also know the owners of every single brand available at Bead & Reel, and know how hard they work to create the best possible products.
 
Bead & Reel's banking is done with a local credit union to make sure I'm voting with my wallet (and not voting for private prisons and pipelines), and the packaging I buy is all Made in USA from recycled content.
 
I am especially proud of the transparency that I offer as an owner and writer. I am dedicated to being honest about the complexities of the fashion industry, and sustainability, and entrepeneurship - even when the truth is unpopular. And I'm even more dedicated to helping create and share solutions with my community of changemakers.

 

BEETxBEET

We just launched a new Organic line made from GOTS certified 100% Organic Cotton. The collection is manufactured locally in Los Angeles by Groceries Apparel. We are also proud to work with a female owned LGBT screen printer who uses eco-friendly vegan inks and we also use low-impact dyes. We take into consideration the impact and imprint we leave behind which is why we also commit to using recycled and reusable shipping materials.


Wolven Threads

Sustainability has always been the heart of our brand and is the first thing we consider when introducing new styles. Our garments are made with eco-friendly fabrics, our dyes are gentle towards the planet, and our packaging is as bare bones and environmentally conscious as possible – instead of using poly bags, we wrap each garment in a small piece of reusable hemp twine, and the envelopes we send our packages in are recycled, compostable and biodegradable. When we work with other retailers, we sometimes incur a fee for refusing plastic packaging, which we always pay.

From a community perspective, we see our brand as being a platform to educate our Wolfpack on best sustainability practices and offer free weekly Sustainability blog posts on the Wolfpack Blog. Also, wolventhreads.com is a certified carbon neutral website. In an effort to offset the carbon footprint of our site, we help protect one of the largest remaining blocks of rainforest in Madagascar from deforestation. To learn more about our mission and #MakeSustainabilitySexy with us, follow us @wolventhreads.


 

Vegan Club


We have been offering organic apparel made locally in Los Angeles since it's start in 2016, until American Apparel went bankrupt. We are planning to go back to organic USA made apparel very soon.

Currently we sell one of a kind recycled jean jackets and shirts that we buy locally from thrift stores, and print our items in-house or at a screen printing facility in DTLA. We use vegan ink on our designs and ship our items in recycled envelops, and our stationary consists mostly of recycled paper and recycled tape. Every small change matters and we strive to do our best when it comes to minimize waste, maximize recycling and using local resources for creating our merchandise.


 

Doshi

One of the materials we use is an eco-friendly Japanese microfiber which comes from the world's leader in vegan leather. This material uses 99% less solvents, 70% less water and puts 35% less CO2 in the air when compared to other high end, microfiber based vegan leathers. This material is much more expensive than other vegan leathers and incredibly expensive when compared to basic PU based vegan leathers but is better for the environment while being both durable and luxurious. While our primary purpose is to create vegan products, finding ways to use environmentally friendly materials is part of our ethos and one of the reasons that Doshi organized as a benefit corporation..


 

Maven Women

We consider sustainability at every step of our supply chain, from farm to factory to final product. As a values-based company we are thoughtful about each choice we make every single day. Some examples of our choices include using materials certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, partnering with fair trade and women-owned factories, donating our scraps from product development and production to social enterprises, using carbon offsets whenever possible, working with a fair trade company on logistics and fulfillment, and using recycled and minimalist packaging that is made in America.


MIAKODA

We make sustainable, eco friendly, ethically made plant based comfy clothing. There’s literally nothing about this description that we aren’t proud of… because we work hard to ensure that our clothing is something that you can feel good wearing and that you feel good about spending your money on. We do everything in our small company’s power to make the planet a greener, cleaner, and overall happier place. To us that means using fabrics that are plant based and grown with love [without toxic chemicals], dyed using low impact dyes [conserves water, uses less energy, and keeps our water sources clean], cut and sewn in ethical, local factories, and representing our clothing on a variety of models of different ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. Sustainability is so important to us because a garment may be beautiful, but our planet will always be more beautiful. If we don’t protect it…humans can’t exist and thrive, and that’s why we are proud to make beautiful clothing that respects our beautiful planet.


 

 

WiseFool

We design all our sustainable products and apparel to make a statement, start a conversation, spark new ideas, and serve as an impetus for change. Each piece represents a new opportunity to make a difference, and nothing stokes us out more than seeing advocates working towards worthy causes while wearing WiseFool.


Toko Toko

We look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals in doing our work. We work like a non-profit, in a sense that most of our profit goes back to fund projects which benefit the artisans and villages we work with. Besides providing them with jobs and paying them fair wages, we try to improve the quality of their environment as well.

Two years ago we worked with a local non-profit in East Java to bring clean water to a remote and dry village there. We installed pipes and sinks at 5 local schools enabling teachers and students to have access to clean water while they are at schools. Prior to this, they have to walk about 5 kilo meters (about 3 miles) to the nearest water point.

We are currently fund raising to provide free dental care next year for the village of Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta in Central Java. This is the village where our artisans live. We are hoping to serve between 75-100 people with basic dental care, bringing a small team of dentists and dental assistants to the village for two days.


 

 

Since NAHTE is a made-to-measure brand we have zero waste of unsold goods. We also primarily source dead-stock fabric, which allows us to use really unique textiles that we might not have access to otherwise. In the beginning, we were just looking for a way around mass production and large purchase orders, but now we fully embrace our sustainable identity.

 

 


Dauntless

We focus on staple products for your wardrobe that can be use all year long. We are always looking for more sustainable and more eco-friendly fabrics. We consciously source every material we use. We are most proud of the impact we have made through the products we sell and what we represent. For example changing buyers perception that just because its not real leather, or real wool or real suede it's bad quality and aesthetically unpleasant.

We also pride ourselves in being in-house manufacturing. We control all standards and have a great relationship with our team. We are unconventional as how we work together with all our employees; lunch together everyday and they become part of the creative process, creating collections etc. We only hire single working mothers. Now for the bragging part... We were featured in Vanity Fair in the Hollywood issue, Glamour UK and Vogue as editors pick as a sustainable fashion brand/ conscious brand.

WE DON’T LIKE HURTING ANIMALS AND CARE ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE PLANET. WE CONTINUOUSLY TRY TO IMPROVE THE STANDARDS FOR ALL OUR MATERIALS.


 

I'm With The Band

Consideration of our planet is infused throughout I’m With The Band. I search to find the best recycled, left over, remnant and deadstock fabrics and bring them back to life making them into the accessories you know here. It’s not the easiest business model, it makes for a lot of extra work but it’s also extremely important and makes pieces really special and limited edition, too. Fashion is the #2 biggest pollutant in the world and it’s really important to me to not be a contributor to that. I have a lot of talented friends that are working in the sustainable goods field as well and think together, however small of a difference we can make, counts. Thank you for your support of this woman owned, small, sustainable and eco-friendly business. I’m always looking for ways to improve and lower my footprint, definitely a work in progress and so important


Stemp

Here is what makes our brand sustinable: At Stemp, our motto is to "care what you wear" and care where your clothes are coming from. This is why we decided to control our supply chain from sourcing our fabrics and materials to delivering our final products, so we could keep the enitre process organic and untouched. To make our brand sustainable, we decided to use hemp which is not only sustainable but also biodegradable / vegan and combined it with other natural and recycled fibers. We also use vegetable dyes in most of our products. Most of our accessories are a result of upcycled fabrics that would have otherwise been labeled as "waste". Furthermore we also decided to make our packaging and promotional materials with "lokta paper" which is a very sustainable practice of making papers in remote villages of Nepal by using pulps of the Lokta plant as opposed to cutting down trees to the same job. Infact lokta paper is stronger, more authentic and less harmful to our enviornment.

We are also proud to be a practioner of fair trade, equal pay and even donate parts of our profits to an orphanage in Nepal that we have been working with for many years now, even before founding our brand!

We are big advocates of slow and sustinable fashion and we are very proud of that.


 

 

Groceries Apparel

I’m most proud of the 40+ full-time, local, and fair-waged jobs we’ve been able to create and all of the families that our operation is able to support. I’m proud of reaching our goal of offering non-toxic clothing dyed with flowers, roots, bark, vegetables, and minerals. I’m also proud of our customers for continuing to support our values and allowing Groceries Apparel to exist.

 

 

 


MooShoes

Troy Farmer, Co-Creative Director:

In creating our brand, Novacas, it was important for us to use to materials that were as sustainable as possible while still durable—we wanted to create shoes that were as animal-friendly as possible, obviously, but we also wanted them to be those pieces that people grew to love and had around for years. We’re proud to say that our materials are highly biodegradable and are far more sustainable than most animal-based leathers. This was an important point for us because most people think that leather is a natural byproduct when, in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Factory farms financially benefit in a massive way from the selling of the hides and they’re anything but a ‘byproduct’, despite the soundbites you get from anyone trying to pass off animal products as ethical or sustainable. It’s important to realize that by supporting the leather industry, you are in most every case directly supporting factory farms, which most of us can agree are an environmental and ethical disaster. On top of that, we produce all of our shoes in EU-certified, fair wage factories in Portugal, which really makes us excited not only about the product we produce but how we produce it.


Delikate Rayne

Here at Delikate Rayne sustainability is just as important to us as saving animals is through fashion so we try to do the best we can to find solutions that will help fight both issues. Currently all of our vegan leather is eco-friendly. We never use PVC (which results in a toxic production into the air we breathe. "A basic building block of polyvinyl chloride is chlorine, and chlorine production releases dioxins into the environment- dioxins are a family of highly toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer, reproductive, developmental and immune problems") so instead we use PU. Polyurethane is a safer alternative to PVC as it doesn’t emit any toxic carcinogenic dioxin into the atmosphere. It also is not made up or filled with pernicious chemicals that is found in PVC making it much gentler on your skin and the planet. The polyurethane that we utilize is recycled which in turn produces a lower carbon footprint. Furthermore, the PU we currently use sticks to the EPA guidelines and passes all appropriate tests making it a part of the SMM range. The lining we have in place for our leather is made from secondhand fabrics and many of our other animal friendly fabrications are overrun or deadstock which means we are giving fabric a second chance at life which otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. In addition, we produce pieces in limited quantities to create a more positive impact in terms of textile waste. Reusing and reducing is what we keep in mind as we continue to source and test new textiles deemed apparel grade appropriate (this currently includes versions of "leather" made out of mushrooms, pineapples and apples) not only to combat waste but to increase our usage of naturally biodegradable materials.


JOIN US

May 23rd, 2018
7pm - 10pm
The Roxy Theater
Los Angeles

TICKETS


 

1 comment

  • Drake: August 06, 2018

    Great article! I most like eco-clothes and “vegan” clothes from all modern “fashion trends”. Many “fashion” clothes are terrible. I would like to add some information about eco-clothes. Great selection of these clothes you can find on the website – https://www.idunloor.com/. Such clothes are made from organic fabrics (for example 100% organic cotton). Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides. This clothing helps in the protection of the environment, stimulate manufacturers to use natural methods of production. “Vegan” clothes help to protect animals from their killing. Therefore, such trends should be supported! Thanks for the good material.

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