This weekend sees the return of Vegan Fashion Week, a showcase of designers who recognise the importance of sustainability and ethics within the fashion industry. This year’s theme is “Expansion,” which examines how fashion can the a lens into the planet’s most pressing issues.
As fast fashion continues to grip the industry (and our Instagram feeds), Vegan Fashion Week is a call to action for the wider fashion industry, to adopt an all-encompassing approach to sustainability.
According to Emmanuelle Rienda, founder and director of the event, “Vegan Fashion Week is a snapshot of this buzzing unleashed creativity, waiting for the right platform to exist. We represent the voice of a generation that is tired of being greenwashed or fed elitist narratives.
“It is not about being perfect,” she continues. “It’s about inspiring change and creating an ecosystem around values that are truly impactful for humans and non-humans.”
Vegan Fashion Week 2021 will feature shows by designers from across the globe, including South Korea’s Vegan Tiger and Buenos Aires-based Romina Cardillo and her brand Nous Etudions. Closer to home, we can expect LA’s Fan All Flames to present their new collection and local artist Parker Day will be presenting her first fashion brand, Pure Void.
Click through the slideshow below to get to know the up-and-coming designers changing the face—and ethics—of fashion.
This Argentinian brand embraces the intersection of veganism and sustainability throughout its genderless collections. At the helm is Romina Cardillo, who made the 2020 LVMH Prize shortlist, and created a capsule collection for Nike in 2019.
Did you notice that the numbers “53045” spell “SHOES” upside down? It’s all part of the unisex vegan brand’s irreverent and fun feel. (Just check out these colorful scarab beetle-inspired low tops.) No wonder they count Lizzo, Lil Nas X, and Rita Ora among their fans.Credit: Shoes 50345
Fleur & Bee
One of the great things about Vegan Fashion Week is that it encourages sustainable living, and one area in which we can all make more eco-friendly decisions is our beauty routines, so we’re happy to see cruelty-free skincare brand Fleur & Bee getting recognition.
Sylven New York
Who says luxury can’t be vegan? Sylven New York makes plant-based footwear from innovative materials such as apple leather and recycled fibers, ranging from casual sneakers to knee-high boots.Credit: Sylven
The first vegan fashion brand in Korea is rapidly garnering an international reputation for its designs that include colorful faux fur and striking patterns. The brand also donates proceeds to animal and environmental charities.
Premium Basic specializes in Italian vegan sneakers, which are produced in the same factory as products from Alexander McQueen and Gucci. Every shoe contains sustainable elements: from the cruelty-free leather to the laces made from recycled plastic collected from the Mediterranean ocean.Credit: Premium Basics
This Los Angeles-based brand’s pieces are instantly recognisable, with singer Halsey recently wearing their provocative t-shirt featuring a black and white image of a woman with three breasts. The homage to Vivienne Westwood’s iconic “Tits T-shirt”, is just one of their striking designs.
Minimalism and understated style are at the heart of this Australian brand. But that doesn’t mean there’s any less focus on ethics and sustainability. Anew Atelier incorporates sustainable apple leather into its versatile bag and wallet designs, which prove that simplicity is stylish, too.Credit: Anew Atelier
Solios Watches are powered by clean, renewable energy — the sun — and on top of that, they’re made from recycled waste that would have ended up in a landfill. On top of that, they’re extremely elegant accessories.
Fan All Flames
This mesmerising brand subverts the archaic elements of the fashion industry: fusing ‘00s gothic staples with futuristic cyberpunk elements. Their slogan ‘What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk Through The Fire’, is a poignant reminder of the urgency around climate change.Credit: Fan All Flames
For emerging designers, sustainability is the new black
Vegan Fashion Week is about more than bringing sustainability to the masses, it’s also about celebrating the great strides taken by designers who have chosen to create clothes which are free from animal cruelty and exploitation. For many, Vegan Fashion Week is an opportunity to draw attention to sustainable brands, which may not otherwise get their recognition.
Casey Dworkin, the Founder of sustainable footwear brand Sylven New York, explains that “When we first launched back in 2017, the material landscape was so different, and the types of vegan materials that met my sustainability requirement just didn’t exist yet. But now four years later, we are able to source incredible materials like our signature apple leather made from organic apple food waste, linings made from wheat and corn, and insoles made from coconut husks.”
Another brand showcasing its sustainable innovations at Vegan Fashion Week is Shoes 53045, which produces 100 percent vegan unisex sneaker-shoe hybrids with bubble air comfort. They also have exciting new materials in development, including corn-based vegan leather, and recycled polyurethane.
According to Aurelia Ammour, the CEO of Shoes 53045, “Vegan Fashion Week is proof that there is critical mass in this industry for cruelty-free approaches to creativity. Our brand is excited to be part of it because it’s an opportunity to interact with brands and consumers who share our values.”
Conscious consumerism is trending
Close on the heels of the food industry’s major shift to plant-based options, fashion is poised to make a major impact on sustainability. The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of all carbon emissions on the planet, so the timing couldn’t be more urgent.
Brands from startup boutiques to major fashion houses are ditching fur, swapping animal leather for plant-based materials like mushrooms and cactus, and celebrities from Billie Eilish to Jason Momoa are putting their star power behind elevating sustainable style. Even the Met Gala has largely ditched old-school glamour for renewable style and a message of sustainability.
As well as showcasing the latest innovations in sustainability, Vegan Fashion Week is showing consumers that fashion can be ethical. Danielle Goldman, the Chief Executive Officer at Sylth Virago explains, “Ultimately, it’s up to the customer to put their money behind brands and companies that share their values. We hope to introduce our brand to an audience that shares our ethos and wants to make a positive change for animals and our planet.”