Maggie Recycled Seatbelt Handbag, The Ultimate Green Store, $76
Hemptress Mona Satchel Hemp Bag, The Ultimate Green Store, $175
Umbrella Skirt, Supermarket, $90
X-Ray Earrings, Etsy, $18
2-Tone Dress Shoe, Vegan Chic, $34
Elegant Oxford Pump, Vegan Chic, $42.50
Patent Dress Boot, Vegan Chic, $56.95
BB Dakota Faux-Wool Coat, Alternative Outfitters, $72
So there you have it- a small, but varied collection of vegan and cruelty-free clothing and accessory options. I'm always curious about what people think of these types of items and this movement within the fashion industry. I admit, I am a skeptic. At this point in my life, I'm happy to wear leather shoes, carry a leather handbag, knit with pure wool and alpaca yarn as well as purchase real wool sweaters, coats, etc. When I think of being green with my sartorial choices, I prefer to purchase pieces that are recycled from other materials. Not only is it more creative, but to me, it's a far better choice to rescue something from a landfill and turn it into a useful and/or beautiful piece than it is to continue to flood the market with newly manufactured goods- vegan or otherwise.
One could argue that while a faux-wool coat or faux-leather shoe may be "cruelty free," they are also potentially far more environmentally damaging than a 100% wool coat purchased at a thrift shop or a pair of arm warmers re-purposed from a worn-out sweater. I wonder what types of manufacturing procedures are used on many of the "vegan leather" options. What chemicals and synthetic materials are used to create such realistic fakes? Will they decompose in a landfill more quickly than non-vegan items?
And on a personal note, I have a few minor complaints about some vegan options. For example, faux leather shoes do not stretch. At all. Which means that if the vegan shoes I bought are a little too snug, I have the choice to suffer, or to let the shoes go to waste, or to pay a lot more to have them fixed at the cobbler, if that's even possible. In addition, faux-leather does not breathe, making for much more sweaty, stinky feet.
As far as wool and silk are concerned, well I also have no problem with them. The sheep aren't being killed for their wool, they're merely being shorn. And all the pure wool and alpaca yarn I buy to knit with comes from local farmers who maintain pleasant living conditions for their animals. I know there are likely a lot of huge farms that supply to manufacturers and their treatment of the animals is probably less than ideal, so I understand why the choice is being made not to purchase those products, but if you can purchase locally and see how the farm runs and treats their animals, would that change your mind about using synthetic faux-wool materials?
I honestly do not know enough about how all these items are manufactured to make a strong case in either direction, but I do think we should question where it ALL comes from and how it ALL is made. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries and of course I would hope we can all work to change that, but just like some people choose to eat local organic meat rather than go completely vegetarian, I think we should be able to make similar choices and compromises in the fashions we buy and make.