Vegan clothing isn't always as good for the environment as you think

Dressing vegan is a worthy aspiration for anyone with concerns about the treatment of animals and the environment. But in some ways being kind is even crueller to the planet. Not to mention the eyes.

While there's a global movement towards alternatives to animal skin products, with vegan leather projected to be worth $108 billion by 2025, trying to dress ethically and stylishly is a menswear minefield.  

There's no value yet attached to kombucha fabrics, but kudos to Australian student Heather Weir along with Edinburgh College of Arts graduate Aurelie Fontan for making inroads.

No skin off...

Despite the admirable commitment and clear skin of your non-meat eating friends, in the world of fashion vegan doesn't necessarily mean ethical.

In the same way that sugar-free doesn't mean healthy some vegan products remain damaging to the environment.

Stella McCartney's pricey "vegetarian leather" is made with solvent-free polyurethanes, coated with 50 per cent vegetable oil and recycled polyester. However the majority of vegan leather products on fast fashion websites are straightforward PU.

The pleather effect

PU or good old-fashioned pleather is a chemical creation involving highly toxic solvents. Many PU's are about as biodegradable as a plastic straw and recycling is not an option,

The other issue is that many Vegan clothing products are just plain ugly. So here are some ethically minded clothing alternatives that tick style boxes and will make you warmer than a steaming bowl of Agedashi Tofu.

Be basic

Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan have been at the forefront of ethical fashion in Australia with their label Bassike and its pioneering organic cotton creations.


Apart from being committed to environmental awareness their socially on top of things supporting the Mirabel Foundation which assists abandoned children.

With their great Patch Pants we can almost forgive them for becoming the unofficial uniform of Bondi hipsters.

Be brave

Launched in 2010 Brave Gentleman's suits, shoes and accessories have gained the approval of actor activist Joaquin Phoenix. Last year the Gladiator actor appeared in a PETA advertisement wearing one of Brave Gentleman's 'vegan wool' suits to protest the wool industry.

Founder and creator Joshua Katcher does a mean line in check jackets that scream style rather than puritanical ethical observance.

Royal footwear

Meghan Markle's wardrobe as become a topic of national interest on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Royal Tour but there's something in it for the boys.

Watching the Invictus Games from Sydney Harbour the Duchess wore sleek Veja sneakers, which are available for men.

The popular French brand has made ethically-minded Aesthetes give their Birkenstocks a rest with sustainable footwear made from curdled milk and recycled plastic.

Purists might turn their noses at some products in the Veja range which use leather but founders Sebastian Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion are focused on ethical sourcing and reducing the impact to the Brazilian environment.


With a mother who pioneered Vegetarian sausages it's no wonder that Stella McCartney is the queen of vegan luxury. Her relatively new men's collection is a natural extension of her ethical concerns.

There's not a whiff of patchouli or hint of hemp fisherman's pants about Stella's.