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Making Vegan Fashion Kinder

Sean O'Callaghan wants to further improve the fashion industry

Not all of us can afford to completely replace our wardrobe with animal-free garments when we transition into a vegan lifestyle, meaning your wardrobe could be the final thing in your life to be completely free of animals. If you have only just decided to live as a vegan, your wardrobe might be a showcase of wool, leather, silk and feathers.

It can take time for that to change. You will find yourself starting to take notice of clothing labels as much as you do food labels, and you will become increasingly keen on making positive changes for animals by choosing cruelty free clothes.

Mainstream retailers such as Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom, ethical shoe retailer Will's Vegan Store, and high-end fashion houses such as Stella McCartney are making these choices simpler for compassionate shoppers. You can now buy vegan shoes from
shopping malls in Mexico City, animal-free bedroom slippers on UK high streets, and plant-based party dresses in all the major European capitals.

So, we can buy vegan fashion but is that enough in 2021? Can we do more to make the world a better place when it comes to what we put on our bodies? There are many ways to consider how kind a garment or shoe is other than if it's vegan.

Sweatshops have long been on the mind of thoughtful shoppers as something to avoid. Huge factories all over the planet churn out mountains of inexpensive clothing and footwear in order to meet consumer demand.

Not only do a lot of these factories and warehouses pump damaging chemicals and waste into the environment (damaging health of nearby residents), but they are also some of the most exploitative workplaces on the planet.

Workers suffer under horrendous conditions and get paid appallingly. Modern day sweatshops and garment manufacturing factories often cause harm, even if they are producing vegan items. Your £5 cotton T-shirt or shiny new shoes for work might be vegan, but you should also consider the human cost of getting those garments to your closet.

It can feel overwhelming to think of all these aspects when shopping for clothing especially when money is tight, so we can only pledge to do what we can. The central ethos of veganism is about doing what is practical and possible when reducing dependance on animal products, so I believe we can apply that same approach when it comes to shopping as well-rounded ethical consumers.

Do what you can, when it is possible. Look for opportunities to do better. Look for brand assurances when shopping. Become aware of where products are sourced.

Understand if something is attractively inexpensive - someone has probably been exploited somewhere on the planet for you to buy it cheaply.

Do what you can, when it is possible. Look for opportunities to do better. Look for brand assurances when shopping. Become aware of where products are sourced.

Understand if something is attractively inexpensive - someone has probably been exploited somewhere on the planet for you to buy it cheaply.

If you have got the funds, shop with independent retailers specialising in locally sourced fashion. Boutiques with an environmental and ethical flavour will set you back more than cheaper chain stores, but you will be getting higher quality and peace of mind.

You can talk to business owners about what they do to ensure they support companies that are compassionate to animals AND humans.A fun way to step out of the cheap clothing loop is to get involved in clothing swaps.

There are groups in most major towns and cities, meaning you can take your unwanted outfits along and take your pick from clothing and footwear being donated by other participants.

Charity shops can be goldmines for discovering functional and fabulous fashion at a fraction of the cost. If you pick your second-hand shop with care, you might even be directing much needed funds to an animal charity.

The lifespan of footwear can be extended by shopping for shoes that can be re-heeled. If you spend a little more up front, you might find you spend less over time by paying for the soles or heels to be rejuvenated instead of forking out for a brand-new pair.

But when we boil it down, the simplest way to stop feeding the capitalist clothing complex is to wear less. No, I don't mean getting naked on the high street! I'm talking about training ourselves to consume less when it comes to clothing.

You don't need the same pair of jeans in three colours and it's possible for you to repair the holes in your socks instead of popping into your nearest discount clothing outlet for replacements.

Don't be shy when it comes to sharing unwanted outfits with friends (and accepting gratefully when they reciprocate).

Look for ways you can make a difference with your wardrobe in order to make the world a better place for animals, people, and our natural environments. It will be the most fashion forward choice you will make this year!

Follow Sean's vegan adventures on Instagram @fatgayvegan

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.