1. Vaute Couture 2. Stella McCartney 3. Forever 21 4. H&M 5. Sephora 6. Zara
Veganism is on the rise. According to Harris Interactive, there has been an increase from 1% of the population to 2.5% from 2009 to 2012. Although this a small jump, vegan living has become more mainstream with big celebrities like Beyoncé proclaiming the benefits of meat-free living. Even Penn dining halls offer vegan options for every meal. Board member of the Penn Vegan Society Annie Freeman has noticed an increase in veganism. “There are more vegan option in the grocery stores recently,” Annie said. “But I was from the conservative part of Texas, so some people didn’t even know what vegan is there.”
However, vegan isn’t just a dietary change, but also a lifestyle change. The majority of shoes and accessories are made from leather. Although not all vegans chose to only wear vegan clothing, many do. Luckily, there has been an increase in availability of vegan fashion over the years, meaning vegans don’t have to cut style out of their diet too.
Stella McCartney has revolutionized vegan-conscious fashion, however not everyone can afford a thousand-dollar handbag. For those with lower budgets, there are fast fashion brands like Forever 21, H&M, and Zara that make cruelty-free products more accessible. Sophomore Annie Freeman has been vegan for three years now and vegetarian since she was 9 years old.
“I stopped using leather when I was 9. I stopped using wool later on when I found out about the conditions. The hardest thing to find is winter boots. I had to go to a lot of stores.” Annie said. “I would have to check every shoe, but they always put the label in a weird place. My aunt would buy me leather shoes, and I would make her return them when I found [the materials].” Lately, Annie has turned her attention towards shopping only at places that do not use sweatshop labor. This has since limited the places she can shop even more.
“You can find [vegan, sweat-shop free items], but it hard to find them at the right price points. GUESS I liked because they made some great faux leather stuff, and I am sad that I have to start avoiding them now.”
While some vegan dresses are more liberal than Annie with animal products, there are also people who are stricter.
“I know one of the girls only shops from thrift stores because she doesn’t want to contribute at all,” Annie said.
Annie also finds herself shopping at thrift shops for eco-conscious choices, especially shoes. The shoe addict does most of her shopping there and at online vegan sites.
“There are several great vegan brands, but they are very expensive. I will buy shoes that I wear for a month and then buy new one because I like buying them. I only wear one or two close enough to wear them down by wearing them to class, and the rest I just have because I like them,” Annie said.
Also on her list of hard-to-find items are vegan winter coats.
“Most are made of down feathers. Vaute Couture is one of the best brands,” Annie said. “I invested in one of those, but it was one of the hardest finds.” Vaute Couture is one brand that is focused on sustainable, animal-friendly clothing.
The Vegan Society boasts all the advantages of animal-free consumption. According to their website, “One of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products.”
So shopaholics rejoice: it’s possible to save the planet and look cute doing it.
Images courtesy of: Vaute Couture, Barneys, Forever 21, H&M, Sephora and Zara