You REALLY gonna go out with that fur coat and leather shoes?
Oh, how times have changed just in a year. Thanks to COVID-19 (or what I like to call “Candyman” online), the world is waking up to the reality of what happens when we capture and consume animals. As I write this, we’re entering the fourth week of staying indoors, and there hasn’t been much activity in my closet, except for shuffling through hoodies and leggings, and rotating the same activewear for my runs or walks outside.
Food and fashion may not be linked that closely in the case above, but one thing that was clear to me at the beginning of 2020 is that I wanted to finally veganize my wardrobe. That means, no more leather shoes or boots, cashmere scarves, or wool coats. I also thought it’d be good to update the blog I did last year on apparel and highlight the brands that are 100% cruelty-free and vegan, as well as working towards being sustainable. Because if anyone else is learning like I am that we don’t need as many clothes as we have, we may as well be investing in items and in companies that are helping the vegan cause, and the planet.
This blog includes more brands that weren’t in the previous list. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them have eco practices. Leave it up to the animal lovers to also care for the Earth, right? As always, please do additional research if both elements are important to you, and contact companies directly if you have questions. Since the list is pretty extensive, I left bag and shoe brands and other online retailers, further below.
After studying and working in fashion in Toronto, Founder and Designer Bianca Bellantoni now runs this self-titled sustainable clothing company from Vancouver. Her womenswear label reveals an artistic approach to sustainable design. Garments are Canadian-made in house, and minimal-impact, animal-free fabrics are used. All fabric scraps are kept and reused to make pet beds, which are then donated to local animal shelters.
Wendy Van Riesen is a former client and has a special place in my closet for her beautiful items made of discarded curtains, which are meticulously screen-printed. Her Ravens, Eagles, Polka Dots collection features images by aboriginal BC-based artist Reg Davidson, and the former First Lady Michelle Obama and I have pieces from it!
Based in Vancouver, Daub + Design is one of the OGs of natural, hand-dyed activewear. Designer Lexi uses surface design techniques to make recognizable, one of a kind garments made of sustainable fabrics. Having been to her warehouse sale recently, I can attest that her pieces are worn by women of all ages and sizes, providing them with a unique sense of style, confidence, and positive body image. I LOVE my Adriana Leggings both at home, and for running errands out. I don’t even want to do yoga in them for fear that I’ll wear them out too quickly!
Launched via Kickstarter out of Nova Scotia, this children’s brand creates great-looking waterproof pants, jackets, and suits that are locally made from chemical free, 100% recycled and recyclable material. Bonus: They have a take-back program too!
This Victoria-based brand began as a way to share messages of veganism and compassion to animals. The founders partnered with a local print shop and use direct-to-garment printing and water-based inks to ensure top quality, affordability, and reduced product waste. They share 10% of profits with a vegan organization, which has included A Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary.
Inner Fire was inspired by yoga and one of the first brands I’d heard that was making leggings out of BPA-free recycled water bottles. The brand has expanded to men’s apparel and cotton/rayon/polyester blended tops that are hand-printed and dyed with eco-friendly, water based inks.
This Gastown-based brand has only been around the last few years, but already they’ve made waves globally by working directly with cotton farming families in Egypt to ensure fair worker wages and ethical conditions. While their cotton isn’t yet organic, they’re aiming for 100% organic in five years.
The acronym for “Leave Nothing But Footprints,” this Toronto-based brand boasts certified Cozysoft bamboo-viscose fabric and organic cotton, limited packaging, and working with trusted, ethical factories and suppliers in China.
With a location on beautiful Bowen Island, Movement Global’s versatile bamboo items are all made in Canada.
Kits-based designer Lauralye makes super soft, organic bamboo-cotton blended dresses and other items, in 30 different styles. You choose one of 18 colours, and the sizes are super flexible. Her retailers change, so order or inquire online for where you can try on samples in Vancouver. I’ve got 3 pieces from her now, and have my eye on more. Check out my review!
Their site says it all: “We’ve democratized cruelty-free in an otherwise cruel and elitist space: fashion outerwear. Because someone had to, and we’re proud it’s us. We use high-tech synthetic fabrics that are nearly identical to animal-derived materials in warmth, comfort and style. Better believe we’ve got that Peta-approved stamp of approval to prove it.” From vegan leather jackets to raincoats and winter puffers for adults and kids, I could dress an entire family with their outerwear.
With HQs in the high BC mountains, “so remote that we don’t even have cell reception up here,” Louis and Anik’s Nomads was founded almost 20 years ago. Their hemp apparel’s manufactured by a fair trade factory in China.
Based in Montreal, QC, Norden re-purposes existing plastic to create stylish and functional outwear that’s both ethical and sustainable. To date, they’ve recycled 1 million bottles and are Peta-approved and a certified B Corp.
Kids’ clothes are always the most fun. I’ve always admired Toronto-based Nudnik, which makes 100% compostable items from the softest organic cotton off-cut fabrics + end-of-roll threads + trims that would otherwise pollute our planet.
Run by Indigenous women, OKAKIE is transitioning to using plant-based, fully biodegradable materials. Manufacturing and sourcing is overseen by their production office in downtown Los Angeles, and all of their designs are exclusive with limited distribution and production runs. Their retail shop is on West Hastings Street in Vancouver.
This Instagram e-commerce brand is run by two U of New Brunswick students who make hand-painted plant pots and clothes by hand from recycled material. When I asked whether they used animal-based fabric, this was the message I got back within the hour: “I buy all my material second hand from thrift stores, so I can’t know for sure what material it is that I’m using all the time, but I definitely wouldn’t buy a material that I know comes from an animal, as I am a vegan myself. If somehow I end up with a non-vegan fabric, then I would still probably use it since the goal of the shop is to not waste anything, but I would definitely mention it in the caption!”
Oraki makes girls’ and women’s fitness apparel COMPLETELY out of recycled water bottles. A percentage of profits from every online purchase go to the Shriners Hospital for Children – Canada and AQEPA, and they’ve recycled over 218,000 bottles so far.
Peace People Project’s Tosha Lobsinger is an influencer in Vancouver’s vegan scene. PPP was born out of her deep love for the world and a yearning for peace for all beings. Between adventures and activism, she now frequently visits local thrift shops to source previously-loved pieces of clothing, so that she can create shirts (and other items) to advocate for a better world, without harming it in the process. Each piece is one of a kind and arrives in the mail in 100% recycled materials.
Plant Active grew from founder Jordan Weisner’s strong passion for animal rights. A portion of sales goes toward animal rights organizations, activist groups, and farm sanctuaries, and Plant Active has donated at least $2500 to date.
I had to give a shoutout to the company that helped make my upcycled wedding dress dream happen in 2016, by re-using a friend’s pre-worn dress along with some new lace. They support ethical fabric production and labor wages & conditions.
Photo: Tomasz Wagner Photo & Film
When doing research for my upcycling company back in 2015, I visited Katherine Soucie’s boutique in the Chinatown area of Vancouver. Since 2003, she’s specialized in the zero waste transformation of waste hosiery (pre-consumer manufacturing waste; castoff pantyhose, tights) into new textiles, garments, accessories and 3D forms. Each collection is unique — no two pieces are alike, and everything is made in Vancouver.
This brand may sound colloquial, but it’s got a pretty impressive history dating back to 1914. They saved over 3 million ducks just in 2017, and use cutting edge technology to create sustainable materials.
Normally I wouldn’t promote a 100% acrylic brand (which isn’t eco), but I think faux fur is a great option for costuming and performances. A portion of profits from EVERY purchase goes to the conservation of endangered animals, so I’m down with that.
This vegan streetwear brand was founded by three women from Calgary, and I have to say they have the best slogans. $1 from every item goes towards two Alberta farmed animal rescues: The Alice Sanctuary and Robin’s Refuge. Since inception, they’ve donated nearly $3000.
Founded by sisters Hailee and Bree in 2013 in Ontario, Ungalli creates items made from recycled and organic materials in a local factory where Canadian workers are paid fair wages.
In 2019, Vancouver-based vegan fitness guru Maria Lee created this fun streetwear brand “for bad-boujee vegans.” Proceeds go to animal sanctuaries. It’s only available at Line Spa & Polish, VeganSupply, and Willow’s Wax Bar in Vancouver, but you can check with VeganSupply.ca if they have the size and style you want and they’ll ship it to you!
Based in Vancouver, this award-winning hemp-forward line takes women from the office to a romantic dinner. All products are designed, cut and sewn locally using small batch manufacturers.
Founded by former Canadian pro-football player James Yurichuk and his partner Daniela, this outerwear brand utilizes highly advanced technical materials, creating revolutionary outerwear that is leaner, lighter, and warm, while being respectful to the planet and all living beings.
Vegan bag brands or other fashion retailers
Vegan shoe brands
Did I miss any vegan brands available to Canadians from this list? Let me know in the comments!
Header photo credit: okakie.com