Being vegan is so much more than what you do and don’t eat. Today’s blog features Nicole Hoffman of Too Chic for Meat. Nicole talks about what clothing to avoid and mentions some Vegan stores you might want to check out when purchasing your holiday gifts and outfits this season!

An Intro to Cruelty-Free Fashion

Nicole Hoffman

“So you’re vegan? But what do you eat?” This million-dollar question is something we hear all too often. Never have I heard though, “So you’re vegan. But what do you wear?” Veganism is so frequently associated with just what we put in our mouths it’s easy to overlook what we put on our bodies. Whilst going vegan, the first thing we change is what occupies our fridge. Then at some later point in our journey (or at the same time if you’re brave enough) we choose to phase out or throw out the clothing and accessories filling our closets. (Can I just add that the kindest thing to do would be to donate all the clothing you don’t want) I’m sure you all hate just as much as I do when someone calls veganism a “diet” because we’re oh so quick to correct them that it is, in fact, a lifestyle. Personally, I am a fashionista at heart. When I went vegan a few years ago, it took me some time to come to terms with the fact I had to give up all my leather handbags and jackets. Saying goodbye to a beautiful purple wool peacoat nearly had me in tears. I quickly got over my sorrows though by opening my eyes to all the gorgeous animal friendly products that are slowly saturating the marketplace. Although vegan fashion is still niche, it’s widely available at many stores if you look close enough. And for all of us couch peeps, nearly all brands have a web store that takes all major credit cards. I don’t know about you, but I speak Visa- very well.

The wardrobe piece of this compassionate lifestyle can stump vegan and non-vegans alike due to the myriad of materials out there, so I thought compiling a short and easy shopping guide would assist in any “I’m not sure…” moments. I also wanted to highlight some vegan companies that are making and doing great things for the planet!

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Shopping cruelty-free is easier than ever when you pay attention to those, well hidden, labels in all garments that specify the materials. There’s no denying fall is here and it’s crucial to pay extra close attention as the textiles that are used most in the winter are the exact ones that you should avoid. Cashmere sweaters are practically synonymous with cold weather just like down filled coats.

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Materials to AVOID:

Fur

Leather

Wool

Cashmere

Down

Silk

Fleece (this is a form of wool)

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Materials to LOOK FOR:

Cotton

Bamboo

Polyester

Nylon

Polar fleece (synthetic fleece made from PET or other synthetic fibers

commonly found in: jackets, sweaters, blankets)

Rubber

You couldn’t get away from cotton if you tried, so finding clothing with this and the other listed materials, is a breeze in big box stores like Target and Walmart. More and more brands like Hanes are introducing organic cotton to the masses, which is an ideal, albeit expensive, choice. Bamboo is also popping up in blankets and other home goods, but I’d say it’s also easily bought in tee-shirt form, not dissimilar from Hanes.

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Some awesome cruelty-free and vegan clothing brands:

Vaute Couture http://vautecouture.com/– Known for their outerwear worn by celebs like Emily Deschanel, they have since shown at New York Fashion Week and came out with a full-blown ready to wear collection. (For all you non-fashion folk out there, that means they have head to toe items ready for purchase!)

Miakoda http://miakodanewyork.com/– This new star brand designed by Parsons grad Julia Ahrens is everything a good wardrobe should be based on- comfortable and versatile staples like pants, cute socks and warm sweaters. All eco-friendly, of course.

She Lives on Love Street https://www.etsy.com/shop/shelivesonlovest?ga_search_query=she+lives+on+love+street&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_ref=auto1&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=she+lives+on+love+street&ref=sr_gallery_1– Designer Melissa Slack takes vintage lace and transforms it into beautiful, sensual dresses with eco-friendly fabrics like bamboo. They’re easily perfect for anything- in or out of the bedroom.

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Handbags

Urban Expressions http://www.urbanexpressions.net/

GUNAS http://gunasthebrand.com/

Deux Lux http://deuxlux.com/

Cornelia Guest http://www.corneliaguest.com/

Melie Bianco http://www.meliebianco.com/

olsenhaus

Shoes

Cri de Couer http://cri-de-coeur.com/

Melissa Shoes http://shopmelissa.com/

Novacas http://www.novacas.com/

Olsenhaus http://www.olsenhaus.com/

Vegetarian Shoes http://www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk/

Vegan One-Stop Shops with all your cruelty-free fashion needs:

Vegan Cuts http://vegancuts.com/

Modavanti https://modavanti.com/ (I should note that this site isn’t entirely vegan, but they have an impressive vegan selection alongside other eco-friendly designers)

Compassionate Couture http://www.compassioncoutureshop.com/

Moo Shoes http://www.mooshoes.com/index.php

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Never underestimate the power of Etsy (etsy.com)- hours after logging on you realize you’ve accomplished nothing today aside from “hearting” 100 vegan items- and let me tell you there are plenty!

Making compassionate choices can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can’t afford to splurge on clothing, I suggest investing in quality accessories. Although buying cotton pants from K-Mart may not immediately seem like a choice good for the planet, it’s important to remember every decision we make leaves a small but no doubt lasting impact on our world. Furthermore, the elimination of animal by-products from our diets and our wardrobes sets the bar high for brands who wish keep our loyalty and hard earned dollars. This push for ethical, cruelty free options has delightfully touched those such as Free People, Toms, and Jeffrey Campbell, all of whom offer vegan friendly lines to the masses. When the demand for ethical options are there, who’s to say no to our kind, hopeful faces?

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A native New Yorker, Nicole is a lifetime fashionista and graduate of New York University with a Bachelor’s in Media, Culture and Communication. She feels most at home in a closet full of cruelty-free clothes and accessories, more so if sparkles are involved. She loves traveling and hopes to impress the people of Paris with her limited but well pronunciated French vocabulary one day. Pink is her color, chocolate is her food and shopping is her sport (if it were an option in gym class, she would have gotten an A+). She blogs about cruelty-free fashion, beauty and city life at Too Chic for Meat.