The year is 2021, and there are more people than ever embracing veganism. When you think “vegan”, what comes to mind is probably a plant-based diet that excludes meat, eggs and dairy.
But what about clothing and cosmetics? Veganism is not just a diet preference; it is a lifestyle choice that excludes the use of all animal products in daily use.
The Growth Of Veganism
When Donald Watson founded the Vegan Society in the UK back in 1944, he had 25 subscribers to his newsletter. Now in 2021, there are about 79 million people worldwide that have adopted veganism and pledged to exclude animals and their by-products in their diet.
The number of vegans in the US grew by 600% from 2014 to 2017, bringing the total to 19.6 million. The sale of vegan foods grew 27% between 2020 and 2021, bringing the plant-based food market up to $7 billion.
A survey in the UK found a 360 per cent increase between 2006 and 2016. The number of vegans in the UK rose 40 per cent in 2020, bringing the nationwide count to about 1.5 million people.
In Canada, approximately 2.8% identify as vegan, while that number is 3.4% in Australia.
The Vegan Trademark was introduced in 1990 for businesses to offer products that meet the standard set by the Vegan Society. As of 2021, over 54,000 products from more than 2,500 companies are trademarked and certified vegan.
In 2019 alone, the Vegan Society registered 14,262 products, up from 9,590 in the previous year. This trademark is currently used in 108 countries, with over 50% of products from companies outside of the UK.
The Veganuary campaign where people pledge to eat vegan for the month of January, hit a record-breaking high in 2021, with over 582,000 signups. This shows a steady increase from 400,000 participants in 2020 and 250,000 in 2019.
The Growth Of Vegan Clothing
Vegan fashion simply means clothing and accessories made without the use of animals or their by-products. It caters to a niche and developing market whose growth has been off the charts in the last couple of years.
The global vegan fashion market was valued at 396 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to reach 1,095 billion in 2027 at an annual growth rate of 13.5%. And that’s just for women’s fashion.
Driven by the growing popularity of veganism and countless celebrities speaking out supporting the vegan lifestyle, more retailers than ever are embracing vegan clothing and expanding their product offerings.
According to retail data platform Edited, fashion powerhouse Paris saw a 132 percent increase in products described as “vegan” from 2020 to 2021. In the US, the increase was 63 percent, and in the UK, 43 percent. Denmark, the host of sustainable fashion event the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, had a rise of 42 percent.
The Copenhagen Fashion Week is a biannual event held to encourage sustainability in the fashion industry and reduce the overall impact on the environment. To participate in this event, designers have to meet 17 sustainability standards which include:
- zero-waste set designs
- not destroying unsold clothes
- using at least 50 percent organic or recycled fabrics in their showcased collections
Resource efficiency is the main focus of the production of the event itself. Single-use plastic bottles are banned, food is locally sourced and vegetarian, and no single-use plastic cutlery, straws or tableware is used. Gas-efficient buses and electric cars are used as means of transport during the event.
Vegan footwear and accessories are growing fast as well. The number of “vegan” shoes increased by 27 percent in the US and 36 percent in the UK.
Vegan footwear excludes any use of leather, suede, fur and wool. Alternative microfibers such as polyamide, polyurethane and cotton are similar in appearance to leather and suede.
Advances in technology have provided more options on materials, better appearances and higher performance in synthetic vegan shoes. However, while most of these materials are less harmful to the environment than leather, they aren’t biodegradable and will stay in landfills for many years.
Recent eco-conscious innovations include biodegradable pineapple leather made from the fiber of pineapple leaves. Hugo Boss, Chanel and H&M have already used pineapple leather.
Other materials for non-animal leather include leftover wine grapes, apple peels, corks, and cactus.
Animal glue is made by boiling the bones and tissue of animals together. Horses, rabbits and fish are often used in the manufacture of animal glue. Shoes that are labelled vegan should not contain any animal glue. Thankfully, most of the glue used in shoemaking today is vegan since synthetic glues are more cost-effective than animal glue.
Say No To Fur
One of the biggest culprits of animal cruelty comes from the horrifying fur industry. Animals are kept in unbearably small, cramped conditions all their lives and are driven to insanity before being inhumanely slaughtered or worse, skinned alive.
Fortunately, the world has started to notice and more leading fashion designers, retailers and even countries banning fur farming and fur import. As a result, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Coach, Burberry, Versace and Prada, in addition to many others, have stopped offering fur products.
California became the first state in the US to ban fur production and sales. In addition, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and many other countries have banned the production and import of fur.
Vegan Clothing Is Cost-Effective
Being kind to animals does not have to break the bank. The study by Edited found that animal-free alternatives in the US were cheaper in every category. For example, vegan outerwear, trousers, and skirts were priced more than three times less than their non-vegan counterparts.
Vegan purses, footwear and bags were half the price of similar products made with animal leather.
No longer can we ignore the growing demand and increasingly conscious consumers. Designers and retailers can’t jump on the bandwagon fast enough to expand their product lines for this ever-growing group.
There is so much potential in the vegan clothing industry that we cannot wait to see years of unprecedented growth!