Vegan clothing can be a little difficult to navigate at first. Of course, as vegans we don’t wear fur, wool, or leather, but just like food ingredients, some animal-derived ingredients can be more difficult to spot. Reading clothing material labels is easier than reading food packaging though, and while there are quite a few animal materials, most clothing items are made from the same dozen or so materials, so you will get used to which ones are vegan and which ones aren’t pretty quickly.

Always Vegan Materials

● Hemp
● Cotton
● Cork
● Pinatex
● Polyester
● Soy
● Lyocell
● Acrylic
● Calico
● Linen
● Khaki
● Nylon

Sometimes Vegan Materials

● Fleece
● Satin
● Felt
● Velvet (the vast majority of velvet items are vegan)

Note that even those items marked “always vegan” should be checked, since while the
materials themselves are vegan they can often be blended with materials that aren’t.
Sometimes it will be fairly obvious that an item is made of something like fur, but it’s
important to check the label regardless.

Materials like silk and wool are often combined with synthetic materials, making it much more challenging to spot, and many coats have real fur linings that are not always explicitly labeled as such. If you’re in doubt or the labeling isn’t clear, you can usually find out by searching online for the item and the brand, answers are often available online whether on the store’s website or a vegetarian/vegan forum.

Where to Shop

Once you know which materials to look out for, it’s just a case of finding stores that offer a decent range of vegan options. High street chains have plenty of vegan clothes,
particularly discount fashion brands since animal products tend to be more expensive than synthetic and plant-based alternatives. It’s worth looking around the
stores you already frequent and checking how many items would be perfectly fine for you to buy; you may be pleasantly surprised.

If you’re looking for specific vegan brands, however, these are much harder to find on the high street but plentiful online. While you’ll find plenty of vegan retailers by just researching a bit, you can often find cheaper alternatives on Vinted, Etsy, and eBay, where there is a growing community of vegan sellers, many of whom sell hand-made items.

Your best options are thrift and second-hand stores, this is by far the most environmentally friendly option and usually the cheapest as well. It is unlikely that any items will be specifically labeled vegan, but many of them are since people tend to donate the cheaper items and keep the more expensive ones, particularly with high-quality wool, leather, and fur items.

Replacing Non-Vegan Clothes

When you first go vegan, it will be tempting to replace everything all at once, and if you can do that with your clothes then that’s great, but most of us aren’t in a position to be able to do so. It’s reasonable to wait a little while to replace these items as and when you need to. You’d be no less vegan by doing this, and you certainly don’t want to put yourself in a tough financial position by rushing to replace the more expensive items like shoes, coats, and jackets.

When you replace these products, be sure to donate your old garments to a
charity shop or homeless shelter. Even though you don’t approve of wearing them anymore that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still be used by those who have a real need for them, and it’s worth doing if these unethical items can still be used to achieve some good.

Ethical Sourcing

As well as making sure the items you’re buying are animal friendly, you should try your best to ensure that they’re friendly to the planet and workers. Even if an item is sold by a vegan company, there is no guarantee that it was produced ethically. It is always best to do your research on the company before buying.

Equally, while materials like hemp and bamboo are very sustainable, and cheap, polyester and other synthetic materials often come at an environmental cost. Do what you can afford to do, and support ethical, vegan brands wherever possible. The Ethical Consumer website is a great resource to help you find socially conscious and environmentally friendly brands.

“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

Arthur Schopenhauer