I made the transition to cruelty-free fashion a little over a year ago. With that, I mean that I stopped buying wool and silk items. I hadn't bought any leather in a long time and fur has never been a part of my life. At the time, I was living in Milan and working in fashion, which made it both easier and harder to make the transition to cruelty-free. Harder because so many people seemed to think the only option in the world available for stylish footwear is leather. Easier because I acquired lots of knowledge about fashion and knew where to find the items to fit both my style and my beliefs.
If you're looking to add a bit more animal-friendly flair to your wardrobe, but at the same time you're not ready to give up style...you've come to the right blog!
Here's how I did it (and how I think you can do it):
I'm not saying you have to sell all your leather bags and buy an entirely new wardrobe (although if you can do that, it would of course be awesome) but the next time you go clothes shopping, just look for the cruelty-free option. Check out the leather-free shoes or the wool-free jumpers and slowly build a new, animal-friendly wardrobe. Got a faux-fur coat but aren't yet ready to give up the leather boots? That's fine for now, you already took a huge step! With time, you'll be so happy with your compassionate choices that when it's time to buy new boots, you'll look for the vegan option.
Get rid of prejudice.
Please don't think that vegan shoes are all frumpy-looking and all leather-free bags are made out of hemp (although some are and they're awesome). Take a look at OlsenHaus, Matt and Nat and of course, the queen of cruelty-free couture, Stella McCartney, to see for yourself that vegan style can be edgy and cool. On a budget? So am I. Look no further than ASOS, H&M and Topshop for fantastic animal-friendly looks. ASOS even has a lovely selection tool where you can choose to visualise only non-leather items!
If we care about animals, I find it necessary to care about the planet and the environment as well, so eco-friendly, ethical brands should be of interest - going for the £8 polyester top every time you shop and rejoicing because it's not silk is kind of like only eating soy burgers and fries for a vegan diet (I've done both several times, so I'm far from perfect and wouldn't dream of preaching to anyone. This, however, doesn't make it less wrong). Cool ethical brands: Vaute Couture, Beyond Skin, everything on Compassion Couture and Swedish brand Patouf (where I have interned).
Keep up with the trends.
Read blogs and magazines. Watch fashion shows. Do anything you can to know what's hot right now, so you can tweak the trend your way - which is, of course, the cruelty-free way. If you do this, you're more likely to hear "wow, you look awesome! Can't believe those shoes are vegan!" than, "wow, eco brands sure are...interesting."
Give, give, give!
You might say, this sounds cool - and way easier than you thought, right? - but what do I do with all the animal skins already in my closet? Good question. I have a leather jacket that was a gift and obviously I'm no longer comfortable using it, so I have decided that once we re-enter leather-wearing season, I'm giving it away to a charity shop. Same goes for fur: inherited a fur coat from your grandma? Sell, sell, sell, and give the money to a good charity! Of course, if you're not into selling your memories, you can keep it in your closet without wearing it. Don't throw anything away as it's so wasteful - and people that are not yet ready to live the cruelty-free life may appreciate it.
Pictures from my Instagram: the above one is of my leather-free gloves and bracelet, the below one of my favourite pair of leather-free boots from Swedish low-cost footwear chain Din Sko.