(Updated January 2021)
Mid-winter is upon us, and unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere like sunny California, for many of us it’s dark and cold most of the time now. To ensure you stay cozy and content ‘til spring, it’s high time to invest in a warm vegan winter jacket or coat if you haven’t already. But for those looking for cruelty-free options, it’s that “vegan” part that can be hard to suss out. That’s why we put together this guide on how to choose the most animal- and planet-friendly options … complete with 10 top picks of our own.
How to Ensure Your Winter Coat Is Vegan
Across the fashion industry, brands use a number of animal-based materials. The outerwear sector is no different. For example, using down feathers for jacket insulation is still popular among major industry names like Canada Goose and Patagonia. Other animal-based materials used in winter coats include wool, cashmere, angora, and leather.
A number of brands also still sell fur-lined hoods. However, it’s true that they’re nowhere near as commonplace as they used to be. Earlier this year, even Canada Goose announced it would only use existing fur on its jackets, banning virgin fur completely.
Buying from vegan brands is one way to ensure your winter coat is completely animal product–free. But many of the bigger, more mainstream names also offer vegan options now. Just give the material contents a scan first. Specifically, to ensure your jacket choice is as sustainable and ethical as possible, look for the use of recycled materials like plastic waste.
What to Do With Your Old Winter Coat
Before you buy new, it’s important to consider how you’re going to dispose of your old winter coat. Throwing it into the bin is convenient, but it’s definitely not sustainable. According to Clothes Aid, in 2018, 350,000 tons of clothing was sent to landfill in the UK. Much of this could have been re-gifted, reused, or recycled.
Donating your old coat to a charity shop or a shelter for homeless people is one way to ensure it continues its life beyond your wardrobe. Or re-sell it on eBay or an app like Depop or Vinted.
If your coat is not in good enough condition to be re-sold, take it to a recycling center.
Alternatively, some animal shelters collect old coats, which are upcycled into beds. If your coat is fur, animal rights organization PETA takes donations of unwanted fur items. The charity uses them for educational displays, as well as bedding for animals in need. It also passes them on to homeless charities and shelters, where they can be put to redemptive use by keeping someone warm in a dire situation.
The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Winter Coats
So, once you’ve decided how you’re going to sustainably dispose of your old coat, it’s time to get shopping for a new vegan, ethical option. Here are 10 winter coats to choose from, split into three categories: vegan fur, wool, and puffer.
Vegan Faux Fur
Fur-Trimmed Parka by Noize
If you love the classic look of a fur-trimmed parka but want to ensure your coat is 100-percent cruelty free, look no further than Noize. The Canadian brand is certified vegan by PETA. All of its coats are insulated (necessary for those freezing Canadian winters), stylish, and most importantly, ethical.
Its Gigi parka, which features a statement sweetheart vegan fur-trimmed hood and nips in at the waist, is available in 7 colors, and sizes go up to XXL. The fill is recycled, it’s water resistant, and according to the brand, it’ll shield you from conditions down to -30 degrees celsius. Check it out here.
Noize also offers the Callum parka. It’s similar to the Gigi in many ways, with its vegan fur-trimmed hood and recycled filling, but this winter coat is cut to mid-length. See more here.
UnReal Fur’s Wild Thing Jacket
You wouldn’t guess UnReal Fur’s jackets were vegan just by looking at them. But they are completely animal-free, and the brand has the PETA seal of approval to prove it.
At the moment, the brand’s coats are made with synthetic materials, like modacrylic. But the company is working on more sustainable material options, including hemp and PET fibers (although it admits it’s not “quite there with the quality yet”). But for now, to limit its environmental impact, the brand recycles fabric scraps into new products, like accessories.
This super cozy Wild Thing jacket from UnReal Fur takes inspiration from the snow leopard. For extra warmth, it features medium-pile faux fur, and it comes complete with a high collar and three pockets (one of which is internal). Check it out here.
Apparis’ Goldie Noir
Not a single animal was harmed in the making of Apparis’ super sleek, Parisian-chic fur coats. The brand is open about its responsibility, ethics, and production process, and it’s transparent about its worker conditions (all of its factories are small, family-owned businesses in Italy and China).
The classic gender-neutral Goldie Noir style is cozy and great for layering (it’s described as “roomy but not too roomy” on the website), and it comes complete with a snuggly hood too. Shop it here.
Stella McCartney’s Denim Fur Free Fur Jacket
If you prefer just a subtle hint of fur, this denim piece by Stella McCartney (designed for Taylor Swift and her latest album Evermore) gives just that.
Its cozy lining features the brand’s signature Fur Free Fur, and the rest is made with COREVA, “the world’s first biodegradable stretch denim.” Denim is traditionally made with synthetic and petroleum-based elastane, but this version is created with patented technology that wraps organic cotton around a natural rubber core.
Note: Stella McCartney’s Fur Free Fur is not 100-percent vegan. It’s made with either acrylic, polyester, wool, or mohair. If in doubt, reach out to the brand to check before purchasing; they’re committed to transparency about every material and process they use. Purchase the Denim Fur Free Fur jacket here.
Komodo’s Snow Rabbit Fleece
Komodo, self-described as the “original ethical fashion brand since 1988,” is dedicated to sustainability, and only uses organic, natural, and eco fibres to make its clothing, including recycled plastic bottles. The company is mostly vegan, and completely single-use plastic-free.
Made with 100-percent recycled PET, Komodo’s Snow Rabbit Fleece is a great transitional piece. Layer over a thick jumper in the winter and keep it around for those cooler spring evenings. Get yours here.
People Tree’s Lynne Coat
People Tree is a trusted brand in the ethical fashion space. It’s not completely vegan, but it offers a wide range of animal-free products. Certified by the Soil Association, it’s passionate about using sustainable organic cotton across its range. (Find out more about sustainability and organic cotton here.)
The wool-look organic cotton Lynne Coat (complete with eco-friendly coconut buttons) is also a great transitional piece. Layer over your best knit on chilly days, or simply pop it over a smart shirt as things start heating up. Check it out here.
Thought’s Phebe Puffa Jacket
As the name implies, Thought is all about conscious, sustainable design and sourcing, allowing it to produce garments that are both ethical and stylish. The brand is transparent about its processes, and you can even download a PDF called Our Thoughtful Way straight from its website, which details its commitments to sustainability and social standards.
The brand’s Phebe Recycled Polyester Long Puffer Jacket is one of its “most eco-friendly coats to date.” Made with approximately 120 recycled plastic bottles, it’s cozy, warm, and will make you feel like you’re cocooned in a cozy duvet. Learn more about it here.
Selva Negra’s Siesta Puffer Jacket
Most of the materials for Selva Negra’s collections are sourced locally in downtown Los Angeles “using ethical and sustainable practices,” notes the brand. Some of the fabric used is purchased from deadstock wholesalers, and it uses any scrap to make accessories, like scrunchies and tote bags.
This cropped Siesta Puffer Jacket, with a faux shearling lining, is great for those days when there’s a little bit of a chill in the air, but it’s not a full-blown snowstorm situation. It’s available in three colors: Azul Cord, Moss Cord, and Sol Cord. Get more info here.
Back Beat’s Organic Cotton Puffer Jacket
“Californian born and bred” Back Beat prioritizes the ethical and social responsibility of clothing production above all else, even profit. It strives to create low-impact, stylish clothing that doesn’t strain the planet (or its people).
Made with hemp and organic cotton, this super stylish puffer is ideal for layering up in the colder months, but you can wear it well into spring over a tank top or a cute tee. It’s available in three colors: Army, Merlot, or Sunset. Buy yours here.
Save the Duck’s D3905M Gigay
All of Italy-based Save the Duck’s super warm, insulated winter jackets are vegan and cruelty-free. Sustainability and social responsibility at the core of all of its designs, and in 2019, it became the first Italian fashion brand to achieve a B Corporation Certification.
Save the Duck’s designs are made for warmth. And if you need concrete proof you won’t feel the cold in one of its jackets: in 2019, the first animal-free ascent of Everest took place in Save the Duck gear.
If you’re looking for something for more mundane tasks than climbing the world’s tallest mountain, opt for the thin and lightweight yet durable D3905M Gigay jacket. It will provide protection from wind and rain, and dry off quickly too.
Get even more details here.