5 (Vegan) Designers Who Put Fashion First


Stella McCartney shoes

No matter your stance on ethical and vegan fashion, the chance is you’ve either witnessed someone’s eyes glaze over at the concept or experienced the feeling yourself.  A generalized barrage of eco-friendly buzzwords just doesn’t seem to be the ticket to take cruelty-free fashion into the mainstream.  What stands a better chance at success is the rise of designers who practice vegan design while emphasizing, well, the design component.  Let’s take a look at five designers who, while eschewing the use of animal products, are concerned with style first.

1.  Stella McCartney:  Paul McCartney’s daughter is generally credited as the first luxury designer to fashionably create and stick with a vegan agenda.  As a nod to McCartney’s own emphasis on fashion, we’d like to note that her bio only briefly mentions that she never uses leather or fur, instead prioritizing her history as a designer and her extensive working credentials.

A classic, woven, and vegan satchel from the socialite Cornelia Guest’s stylish, leather-free line.

2.  Cornelia Guest:  New to the world of design, the socialite launched a vegan collection of handbags at Bloomingdale’s this fall.  Guest noted that she’s “a huge fan of Stella McCartney” and likewise wanted to create “things that are beautiful but aren’t leather.”  Unlike McCartney’s work, Guest’s classic looks are all under $300 — so they’re inexpensive, perennially fashionable, and happen to be vegan.

Victoria Bartlett showed this vegan shoe, among others, for the first time last week. Image courtesy of Style.com.

3.  Victoria Bartlett:  Bartlett was inspired to incorporate vegan design into her VPL line after a socialite fan of her brand told her “there’s not that much…out there except for Stella.”  Though the new shoes coming out this spring will be accompanied by standard leather looks, Bartlett expects to add leather-free bags and coats in the future.  With a true style-first attitude, Bartlett told Style.com that even her vegan looks are ultimately “just fashion.”

A boot from Melissa Shoes’ partnership with the designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

4.  Melissa Shoes:  The footwear company is one of several labels offering an all-vegan product.  They separate themselves from their more agenda-laden brethren with myriad designer collaborations — Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, and even avant-garde architect Zaha Hadid have all partnered with the brand.

Rebecca Minkoff went leather-free for her inexpensive secondary line, R & Em.

5.  Rebecca Minkoff:  Okay, so Minkoff does design with leather in her eponymous collection.  But for R&Em, her recently-launched diffusion line sold at Macy’s, she forsook the use of any animal-derived products.  And most importantly, the designer did so without losing any of her handbags’ fashionable, detail-oriented charm.