When I first started eating a plant-based diet, I was still wearing some leather and wool. Not because I didn’t put one and one together but because I chose to ignore it for a bit. I think it came mainly from a place of feeling that cutting out animal flesh made a huge impact. And that’s true, it does–but the choice to stop eating meat is not the end of the road when it comes to conscious consumption.
One day, a couple months into eating only vegan, I was looking at a cute puppy in the street, and it suddenly dawned on me: I would never, ever wear the skin or fur of this animal. And I decided to overcome my resistance towards looking for alternative clothing–vegan clothing. Once you go down that path, it’s natural to also think about the overall production of clothing and shoes. Specifically, I mean labor rights and labor conditions endured by many workers in the fast fashion industry.
Long story short, I decided to become a more conscious consumer overall and commit to ethical and vegan fashion. I knew for a long time that there is a reason why some clothing items only cost $2 and that leather was not just “a byproduct” of the animal industry. A big part of my fear came from a place of comfort and the resistance to changing my habits. I also grew up in Europe and lived in Paris for a long time, a city where fashion is a big part of local culture, and girls like to dress in a cute and stylish way. I was scared I would have to change my look to “granola,” wearing Birkenstocks (Ok, I own some vegan ones now actually and turns out they are super in ;)) and a cardboard box as a dress.
What I realized later is that making a conscious choice that is in line with my moral beliefs when it comes to picking out my shoes and clothes is way more “my style” than anything else.
So I started by selling some of my beloved leather bags. I couldn’t look at them anymore, to be honest. One of them was made out of goat skin, and it actually smelled like a goat. I also got rid of some leather boots and decided I would continue wearing old wool sweaters until they are not usable anymore. Around the same time, I decided not to shop at big chains anymore that sell clothing at super cheap prices (which often indicates that they’re produced under non-ethical conditions and are likely products of fast fashion).
Hand-in-hand with getting rid of certain clothing items and deciding not to buy new ones that are made out of animal products and/or under non-ethical conditions, I had to start doing research and find alternative brands. My biggest fear, as you already know, was not to be able to find attractive garments. To my surprise, there are tons of cute and ethical brands out there. I quickly fell in love with a Canadian bag brand as well as some US and German clothing brands. It turns out that it’s pretty easy to get your vegan fashion fix online if you don’t have access to stores where you live. And most brands accept returns with no problem. Wow, so living vegan is actually as easy as wearing mainstream brands, and there are plenty of choices. It also seems like a lot of vegan brands are more creative and unique in their designs. So it’s a win-win.
So what changed? First, I have become a more conscious consumer. I don’t go into stores anymore and just buy clothes or shoes from anywhere. I ask myself what I need and do research to find the best options. Second, I have started investing in higher quality items. A lot of ethically produced clothes, as well as vegan and sustainable clothing, are a little more expensive, but the lifespan of these items is way longer. So instead of having 10 pairs of sandals, I have four that cost more but that I can also wear for more than just one summer. And lastly, I have increased my happiness. Yep, that’s right. I feel so much happier not wearing dead animals or contributing to any type of exploitation, whether it’s geared towards humans or animals. It also makes me happy to be a conscious consumer and really think through my decisions.
Have you made the switch to ethical and vegan fashion?
Also by Isabelle: 6 Bulletproof Steps For Transitioning Into a Plant Based Diet
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