Cruelty-free v/s Vegan: The Difference

We often hear the term “vegan fashion” or “cruelty-free products” but what exactly do these terms mean? Are we using them correctly? Do we need to dig deeper to understand this emerging trend of calling things vegan randomly without even knowing the truth behind it? Let’s have a look.

Vegan fashion refers to clothes, accessories, footwear, and everything that comes under fashion, designed and developed out of materials that do not cause any kind of harm to the animals whether be it in the making process or testing the products on them. In other words, fashion that is free of all cruel means of producing and encourages co-existence is called vegan fashion. However, the question that stands in front of us is, are these two terms “vegan fashion” and “cruelty-free” different or mean the same? Well, these two terms although are very closely related to each other, do have a thin line of difference- vegan fashion is fashion derived from cruelty-free resources, however, they are very dependent terminologies and often used together.

Vegan fashion has gained immense popularity over the year, many and many countries worldwide, like UK, France, the US, and Germany, can be seen taking this whole concept seriously and making some significant changes in their fashion eco-system. Paris, which pledges to be the sustainable fashion capital of the world by the year 2024 has witnessed quite a few brands pivoting to an eco-friendlier model of producing and retailing. Another country to observe is Denmark, which has seen a big jump in vegan products in the markets.

When talking about fashion cruelty, fur and animal skins are two of the most widely used items that immensely contribute to this hazardous process. Killing animals for their skin, forcefully and cruelly extracting fur from their bodies are some of the most brutal yet usual acts that the industry has been practicing for years, leading to mass killing and extinction of myriad animals. With the rise of awareness among people, consumers today are more educated about these ill practices and even more concerned, leading to vegan fashion becoming an important thing in the industry. The gradual yet momentous shift of consumers to vegan fashion is saving animals and has also emerged as a growing trend that brands can no longer look over.

Looking at this graph and the shift in consumer buying preferences many luxury brands like Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Versace among others who used to use these extensively have either already gone fur-free or are planning to do so in a couple of years. This big of a stride coming from such big, luxurious brands is a mark of a revolution that is going to change the way fashion works for good. As fashion is all about trickling up and down, this move by these opulent brands is surely going to inspire all other premium and non-premium brands as well.

Many associations have also taken birth to look into this matter and speak up against the cruel acts in name of fashion. One such organization is PETA (People of Ethical Treatment of Animals), the largest animal-rights organization that is committed to ending the abusive treatment of animals in business. Brands are now striving to become cruelty-free and being approved by PETA to practice vegan fashion in the industry. The organization recognized Marks & Spencer for its vegan efforts and accoladed the British brand with the ‘Vegan-Friendly High Street Retailer’ title for has widened its product offerings for customers who follow a vegan lifestyle.

The two categories that have been performing amazingly well when it comes to being vegan are the beauty and footwear categories. Vegan beauty products now account for a majority portion of the total products in the UK market due to the rising demand for cruelty-free makeup that is free from animal testing. On the other hand, the footwear industry is also catching up quickly by contributing a great amount to the total production in the US and other markets. Furthermore, brands like Stella McCartney are also experimenting their way with vegan leather and have seen developing some prototypes of vegan leather clothes to substitute the heavy use of animal leather in the industry.

Fashion has been ever-changing with new trends coming and going every day; however, this rising trend of vegan fashion is here to stay. This whole concept is not just for the consumers to be fashionable and for brands to hop on to some lucrative fashion trend but, is more important for a system that needs to change some of the ways that it has been following for years and encourage co-existence in the world we live in.