A vegan in the fashion stores

Petacartoon

As a vegan, I find the debate on fur versus faux-fur absolutely fascinating. It represents the deep gap between the tenants of animal welfare and the vegans. The former have no concern with using animal products and killing them to serve their needs. They are primarily interested in human health and the environment. However, they are also concerned by animal suffering. The latter argue that factory farming is always cruel. As animals are sentient beings, they shouldn’t be used to serve human needs. I don’t want to reopen the debate here. However, if you have never seen a video about factory farming before, please, just once, muster up your courage, be brave, and face it. Wilful ignorance is not a sustainable solution; neither for animals nor for yourself.

Anyway, as it turns out I’m a vegan. This makes a real difference when it comes to purchasing clothes. When I’m in store, I realise how poorly understood veganism is. I think that Stella McCartney is the main source of these misunderstandings. Most people believe that she is a vegan and her brand is as well. Sorry to tell you, Stella McCartney is a vegetarian and her brand is not vegan-friendly at all. Even if fur and leather are banned from her collections, silk and wool are still present.

This may explain why, when I recently visited a store and told the sales assistant I was a vegan, he replied very proudly that his brand was completely vegan and, as evidence, told me that fur was banned. He was completely taken aback when I replied that, for vegans, the use of fur, leather and wool are all equally rejected. I also had to explain that Stella McCartney wasn’t in fact a vegan.

So, I won’t go back to the kind of questions asked by retailers who try frantically to sell me something; “don’t you use wool, even a little bit?” This is certainly due to the fact that for the first time they realise the incredible number of clothes made with wool. When they finally find a suit labelled 100% cotton, they are so happy that they forget to warn me against the second small label sewn in the pocket indicating: “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”.

In a non-vegan store (who knows why) I always watch out and cautiously check labels for myself. Sometimes, I have to remove a few stitches to do so. Customer information is a regulatory requirement, which brands must comply with. However, few seem to really worry about informing the end customer.

More importantly, the sales staff are not fully aware of the composition of their products, especially when it comes to vegan issues. None of them could really explain what are these “non-textile parts of animal origin”. For a suit, it could be related to the horn buttons, for a tops to the pearl buttons and for a bomber to the leather strip for hanging. When finally, the staff understand the sticking point, they gently suggest removing the offending part of the garment for yourself. No comment.

It’s always frustrating for a vegan to see how their creed isn’t understood and their needs met, but by repeating them steadily they will be known and taken into account by the brands. Animals are worth it!