• Marion Bazzoli

Veganism and Fashion are on the rise – here’s the proof

Recently, I came across two different documents which prove what the cruelty-free retail industry is hoping for: the rise of the demand for vegan products.

First, we will deal with the Voluntary guideline on veganism in fashion published by the BRC (British Retail Consortium).

Then, we will focus on a report from EDITED, a retail analyst, on the cruelty-free apparel and beauty market.

The Voluntary guideline on veganism in fashion

In January 2020, the BRC, a major trade association for UK retailers, released a guideline on veganism in fashion. In the UK, veganism is a growing trade, in the food industry as well as in the fashion industry.

As explained by this guideline, labelling a product as “vegan”:

a. means that it doesn’t include animal material (wool, leather, natural silk, etc.) plus glues, dyes, and chemicals derived from animals;

b. doesn’t necessarily mean that it is sustainable as well (definition from the Cambridge dictionary: “causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”).

Moreover, as rightly stated, it is nonsensical to put a “vegan” label on an article that is naturally made without animal components (e.g. a cotton T-shirt).

Retailers need to check with their suppliers which materials are involved in the crafting of their items, to know if they should and could be labelled as “vegan” or not.

This guideline also gives retailers a clear step-by-step process, from reviewing the materials involved to creating and implementing an action plan.

In addition, useful appendixes are made available: a comprehensive list of animal-derived materials and fibres as well as two templates: a bill of materials and a vegan product declaration.

By its mere existence, this guideline shows the conventional retail industry’s interest in cruelty-free products, which will thus gain exposure. This will also probably benefit cruelty-free brands.

The Veganuary report from EDITED

In February 2020, the retail analyst EDITED published a report on the vegan apparel and beauty market underlining its growth in the UK, the US and Germany.

For designers, the issue is to find vegan alternatives which are at the same time widely available and eco-friendly.

Two countries will play a role in the animal-free fashion future.

According to EDITED, Denmark has registered a 42% year-over-year increase in products described as “vegan”. Knowing that the country is already sustainably-aware (proof is the Copenhagen Fashion Summit), the outcome will probably be a rise in the demand for vegan lifestyle articles.

With a 132% year-over-year increase in products described as “vegan”, combined with the fact that Paris aims at becoming the sustainable capital of fashion by 2024, France will likely see a boom in the cruelty-free sector in the coming years.

Which articles are customers asking for? Beauty vegan products lead the way, followed by an increasing request for footwear and accessories.

This report highlights a few other factors to be taken into account.

Traditional luxury brands tend to use less fur and leather but offer very few cruelty-free items – except for the pioneer in this field, Stella McCartney.

Although consumers are more aware of the problems involved with animal materials such as leather and wool, silk still goes under the radar. Here, brands’ role is to explain the issues involved and to offer alternatives.

As always, the price tag is a sensitive element to be taken into consideration. Surprisingly, vegan leather alternatives are cheaper than their leather counterpart, still according to EDITED. This argument could make a big difference in your potential clients’ mind.

Overall, this report also proves the interest in the animal-free apparel by the conventional industry, and the growing interest of consumers. I am especially glad to notice this trend here in France, where there is enough room for animal-free fashion brands to enter the French market.

As a conclusion, the BRC guideline and the EDITED report show that the vegan apparel and lifestyle sector is on the rise. Although it will face difficulties in the upcoming months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have shown their interest in buying products with a lesser impact on the environment and animals. This exceptional situation can be the trigger that will definitely convince consumers to opt for vegan articles.

From my point of view, the role of the vegan lifestyle sector is to educate the general public on the impact of their usual buying habits and offer them clear and attractive alternatives.


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