Vegan clothing: How to guarantee what you’re buying is vegan.

  • 23rd November 2020


If you are vegan or someone who is looking to adopt a more vegan lifestyle you may be curious about all aspects of vegan life, including vegan clothing. We will take you through how you can make sure what you are buying is vegan friendly.

  1. Materials
    Look out for products that are made from cotton, cork, linen, or rayon (which is made from wood!) as they themselves are vegan friendly because they come are made from plants and the process from plant to having the raw thread does not involve any animal products or by-products. Unlike materials like wool, leather, suede, and silk which come from animals or animal by-products. Therefore, on the face of it buying natural products you’re safe! However, there are some things you should look out for when buying plant-based products to ensure they are vegan. Also, synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic or nylon are vegan. 

Vegan materials

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Seaweed
  • Soybeans
  • Polyurethane vegan leather
  • Natural vegan leather
  • Cork
  • Ultrasuede
  • Rayon
  • rPET
  • Bamboo
  • Ramie
  • Lycra, spandex
  • Microfibre 

Non-vegan materials

  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Wool
  • Shearling
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Merino
  • Mohair
  • Down
  • Fur
  • Silk
  • Snakeskin
  • Pashmina
  • Crocodile Skin

If there are any materials not on this list that you come across, just search online and you’ll be able to find out!

  1. Be wary if you are vintage shopping
    Vintage shopping is a great way to put clothes back into the system and is a great way to reduce clothing waste. However, traditionally clothes were made from a lot of non-vegan products such as real fur and wool. This is something to keep an eye out for. Generally real fur feels slightly coarser, like your own hair or like if you were stroking your dog, and falls in different directions naturally, whereas synthetic fur is much softer and has more uniform fibres.

  2. Always read the label
    Make sure to thoroughly read the label of a product as sometimes a product can have non-vegan additions that maybe you didn’t realise. This includes a lower percentage of a non-vegan products such as mixing cotton with silk for a softer material or mixing acrylic with wool.

  3. Look out for “rich” products
    A “… rich” product, means that a product contains a large percentage of a material such as cotton or linen, which is then mixed with other materials. The other materials are generally, polyester, nylon or, acrylic, which are all vegan friendly synthetic products. However, it is unlikely, but it may be the case that the natural material may be combined with silk or wool to produce the garment.

  4. Organic
    Organic is a way to ensure that a natural material is vegan, by being organic, you know the plant has not been grown using pesticides that kill insects, and also by making its way through the water system can have a negative impact on wildlife. Organic materials, however, will use plant-based fertilisers that only help the plant grow and not have a negative impact on wildlife.

  5. Accreditations
    Accreditations are a good way to ensure that what you are buying is what it says it is. Following on from the organic natural materials being vegan, organic accreditations can include GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), OCS (Organic Content Standard), and Soil Association Organic. Which will ensure that the natural fibre in the garment is vegan and organic.
    There are also vegan specific accreditations such as the PeTA Approved Vegan mark which applies to a wide range of materials and products such as synthetic leather, linen and TENCEL ™. Also, the Vegan Society trademark will verify the process and manufacturing of a product to make sure it’s vegan and has the well recognises sunflower logo. If a product shows either of these marks you can be assured, it is 100% vegan.

  6. Feathers!
    While this may be obvious for some feathers are real, unless a feather product says it is vegan friendly, it is not. Even if they are bright neon pink on a feather boa or as a finish on an accessory, feathers are real. They may claim to be artificial, however it is the colour or pattern that has been artificially added to the real feather. So, unless a feather or product with feathers on states that it is vegan, it is not.

  7. Buy from vegan shops
    This is a fail-safe option if you are overwhelmed by what you can and cannot wear to be vegan compliant. There are some amazing fashion shops both physical and online that are completely vegan, where you will be able to look for fashionable looks that you can guarantee will be vegan.

  8. Shoes
    Shoes are tricky because their labelling doesn’t use words (how annoying). Instead they display symbols which tell you which materials are used to make the product. Shoe labels can be quite handy as they will tell you what each element (upper, lining, and sole) in a shoe is made of. If leather has been used in any part of the shoe the symbol looks like a cow hide laid out flat. Textile, which are natural and synthetic products will be shown as a woven square. And other materials, which include vegan materials like cork, or non-vegan materials such as wool are shown with a diamond shape, if there is a diamond, you will need to explore further to see which “other” material this is. 

  9. Details
    Added details to a garment are sneaky. These are parts of a garment or accessory that don’t make up the bulk of the item, such as zip tags, trims, patches, buttons, glue, and dyes. For example, many jeans manufacturers will make their denim (vegan) jeans and add a brand patch on the back made of leather which renders the garment non-vegan.
    Another detail to look out for is dyes, the most common non-vegan dye is made from Cochineal which is a bug which produces a bright red dye, which is used as a pigment for makeup and clothing. So, looking out for water-based ink can help you ensure your clothing is vegan.
    More obvious additions can include leather or fur trims on garments or buttons made from horn, these are things too keep an eye out for, as they should be, but may not be displayed on the label.