The Luxury Channel looks at the designers who have remained at the top of their game while adopting an animal-friendly ethos….
Fashion, as a rule, is extreme. It is elaborate, excessive, indulgent, ornate and luxurious. Fur, feathers, leather and skins are used across the industry in all manner of unimaginable ways. There are, however, a handful of designers that have deemed the use of such materials unnecessary and have happily adopted an animal-friendly stance.
Perhaps the most outspoken of these is Stella McCartney. Born into a strictly vegetarian family, McCartney has adopted a strong policy against the use of fur, leather or any other animal-related product in any of her clothing lines, and her cosmetics and fragrances all follow suit. Her feelings on the subject are so strong that she famously took part in a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) fur exposé video that she subsequently sent out to top designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and Karl Lagerfeld.
McCartney has also launched a vegan accessory collection, which brings a welcome dose of style to the vegan market. There’s definitely a place for such a line and McCartney believes demand is only going to increase: “It’s surprising to me that people cannot get their heads around a non-leather bag or shoe. They already exist out there but unfortunately, designers feel they have to slap a leather trim or sole on them. Mind-sets are changing, though, which is encouraging.”
She is not alone in this belief. New, conscientious designers Matt & Nat have created a collection of bags and purses that are totally vegan while maintaining that critical Hollywood component. Accruing A-list fans, such as Charlize Theron, Drew Barrymore and Natalie Portman, Matt & Nat have proven that style and ethics are not mutually exclusive and can be combined to astonishing effect.
The list of designers stepping away from cruel practices is, slowly but surely, expanding. BCBG Maxazria Group, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson and Charlotte Ronson are among a growing list of high-profile fashion names that vehemently oppose the use of fur in their collections. These designers argue that when man-made alternatives are of such a high standard, there is simply no need to inflict any cruelty in the shallow name of fashion.