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Vegan fashion continues to gain momentum

By Huw Hughes


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As the vegan trend continues to grow both inside and outside of the fashion industry, an increasing number of brands and retailers are jumping aboard the movement and cutting down on the use of animals in their products to meet ever-growing consumer demand.

Following Veganuary in January - a month promoting the use of animal-free products - retail data company Edited has published a report on the rise of vegan fashion, called ‘Veganuary: strategies for success’, exploring the growth of the trend and the ways in which retailers are capitalising on it.

Countries embracing vegan fashion

Long-time fashion epicentre France, whose capital Paris is expected to become the sustainable capital of fashion by 2024, saw a 132 percent year-on-year increase in products described as ‘vegan’ by the end of January, according to Edited. In the US, that number was 63 percent and in the UK, 43 percent. Denmark, which is home to leading sustainabile fashion event the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, is also expected to become a vegan fashion trailblazer, with a 42 percent year-on-year increase in products described as ‘vegan’ in the market.

Vegan beauty still dominates, but footwear and accessories growing

Beauty is still the leading fashion category when it comes to cruelty-free products, with the sector making up 69 percent of vegan products available online in the UK at the end of January, and 66 percent in the US.

Vegan footwear and accessories are also fast-growing sectors, as fashion companies increasingly look to animal-free alternatives to leather and suede. The number of shoes available described as ‘vegan’ increased by 27 percent in the US year-on-year and 36 percent in the UK. The UK’s accessories sector also saw a 56 percent increase in ‘vegan’ items stocked year-on-year.

“Outside of these areas, incorporation of vegan materials into categories is minimal, showing an apparent gap in the market for retailers to test the water with alternative fabrications,” Edited said in its report. “Animal-friendly outerwear is starting to gain momentum in the mass market. Vegan leather jackets are a no-brainer, but also consider alternatives to wool and down.”

Edited added that despite growth in certain sectors, “overall merchandise promotions were minimal, with the majority of mentions relating to food. This opens an opportunity for retailers to push communications.”

Luxury goes vegan

Luxury fashion brands are also getting in on the vegan trend. In the last few years, big-name brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Versace and Victoria Beckham have all pledged to go fur-free in their catwalks. In the past three months, there has been a 36 percent year-on-year decline in women’s fur arrivals in the US. Leather and skins have been less targeted when it comes to vegan alternatives, with many luxury brands such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton relying on the animal products for their collections.

Analysing womenswear luxury products currently in stock in the US and UK market described as ‘vegan’, ’non-leather’ and ’faux leather’, Edited found that these alternatives only made up around 2.3 percent of women’s leather goods for luxury brands, driven largely by sustainable and vegan label Stella McCartney.

Edited also noted that while skins, wool and fur are most commonly associated with animal products in fashion, consumers are less aware of the human and animal welfare issues in the silk trade. Animal welfare organisation Peta is working on educating the public about the conditions of workers in the silk trade and the controversial process in which the silk fibre is collected from the cocoon by boiling the pupal alive. Cruelty-free alternatives to conventional silk include peace silk, which is woven from cocoons of the already hatched moth, though no certification to guarantee the standard of this alternative currently exists.

Vegan alternatives offering competitive price tags

While 100 percent leather products have long been known for their high price points, animal-free alternatives come with considerably more competitive price tags. Edited compared the full price of leather versus non-leather products stocked in the US mass market at the end of January. In every category, vegan leather was the cheaper alternative, while interestingly, on average, vegan leather outerwear, trousers and skirts come in more than three times cheaper.

Main article image: Insecta Shoes, Facebook