Most of us are animal lovers, yet we still live in a world where leathers and fur are glamorized and highly coveted. As a fashion-obsessed 20-something, I have fallen victim to these fashion fails, but no longer.
After seeking out ways to buy cruelty-free luxury goods, I’ve armed myself with the five most helpful tips that I use every time I go online with the intention to buy. Here are my secrets to make your cruelty-free shopping experience, fun, luxurious and accessible.
1. Use buzzwords.
Vegan, faux, cruelty-free, and pleather. These are four buzzwords that I type into the search bar when I’m shopping online. You'll be surprised at how easy the this makes your shopping experience and how many cruelty-free options your favorite retailers carry.
Buzzwords are also important because the retailer’s marketing team is constantly tracking what you’re searching. So, the more you search for a specialized product with the search terms listed above, the more the company will supply for your demand.
2. Keep a list of retailers that you like.
I have a list of large retailers, and smaller online boutiques that I constantly track for sales and new must-have cruelty-free products.
Here’s a list of some of the retailers that I keep on my radar:
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Stella McCartney
- Matt & Nat (vegan accessories)
- The Real Real (luxury fashion)
- Tata Harper (beauty products)
- Blue Fly
- Vaute Couture
- Brave Gentleman (men's fashion)
- Compassion Couture
- Melissa shoes
- Tom’s (they have vegan shoes, now!)
3. Make sure you know what you’re buying—read the labels.
You might surprise yourself and find that the leather on the shoes you want is actually pleather, and totally cruelty-free.
Another reason reading labels is important is to see where the product is manufactured. If you want to purchase an item, but unsure about Child Labor Laws in the country where it was manufactured, do a quick online search to see what you’re supporting before you buy it. As a vegan designer and good friend of mine, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart puts it, “How you choose to spend your money is another way of voting for something you want.” Read the labels and know what your purchase supports.
4. Slowly build your new wardrobe and lifestyle.
A cruelty-free wardrobe doesn’t happen overnight, which can be extremely frustrating to those of us who've decided to live the cruelty-free lifestyle. If only we could all have magic powers to make everything we own cruelty-free overnight!
Don’t ride yourself for wearing your old leather boots; just replace them with an awesome cruelty-free pair when your budget allows. If people ask why you’re vegan but still wear leather, explain that you’re making a conscious effort to buy cruelty-free products going forward and are working to convert to a more compassionate wardrobe or lifestyle in the meantime.
5. Out with the old, in with the new.
It feels so good to sell the old stuff and make room for new things in your life. My husband and I have moved six times together, and each time, we clean out our closets, give away or consign our older clothing and shoes, and make room for new, cruelty-free options (or simplifying without needing anything extra).
We’re even conscious about the furniture and home goods that we add to our home; no more wool rugs, bone inlay coffee tables or picture frames, leather chairs, or feather bedding. We have sold old furniture on Craigslist and purchased gorgeous new pieces, like a linen sofa filled with soy-and plant-based polyfoam, rugs made from plant fiber (like sisal), and pillows filled with foam instead of feather.
Again, change takes time and can be quite expensive. People who get what you stand for will totally understand if you still have a wool rug or feather lined pillow in your sofa. When the budget allows, sell or donate the old, and allow space for new things in your life.
Photo Credit: Michael Weschler