Six Brands for the Stylish Vegan Professional: Clothes and Accessories

The Stylish Vegan Professional: Six Brands for Vegan Dress Shoes, Clothes and More

2017 Update: We still recommend these brands for vegan, non-leather clothing, shoes, and bags for the professional woman — but you may want to check out our more recent roundup of stylish vegan shoes for the office.

All right, ladies: If you’re a stylish vegan professional (or are trying to be), which are your favorite vegan brands for workwear? We recently received a question from a job-seeking reader about sources of vegan workwear — both clothes and accessories. Fortunately, it’s far easier to find stylish vegan professional workwear today than, say, 15 years ago. Before highlighting some brands, let’s review what isn’t vegan. Drawing from a post at The Compassionate Closet, here’s a list of materials made from animals (ranging from the obvious to the ones you might not think of): leather, wool, suede, silk, cashmere, mohair, alpaca, angora, worsted, serge, tweed, down, velvet (non-synthetic type), gabardine (wool type), grosgrain (silk type), jersey (wool type), satin (silk type). 

A search for “vegan” at Zappos brings up 700+ items, and a search at Nordstrom shows 350 (of course, you can further sort by category), and sites like MooShoes, Ethica, and Vegan Chic bring together many vegan products in one place. (Related: our slow fashion shopping guide.) What sources have you found for quality vegan workwear, vegan dress shoes, or other musts for the stylish vegan professional? 

For those of you looking for vegan workwear brands that are specifically vegan-focused — not just animal-free by accident — we’ve rounded up six brands worth trying:

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Etsy Workwear: Seven of the Best Shops on Etsy for Workwear

etsy workwearI’ve always been impressed when readers have mentioned some of their favorite stores for workwear on Etsy — and I’ve even bookmarked a few over the years! Still, Etsy can be a pretty big place, so I asked Ashley Wermick, a fashion writer and editor, to take a look to kick off the discussion — what are YOUR favorite Etsy stores for workwear? What are you constantly on the hunt for that you hope an indie/custom seller can help you find? (Welcome to Corporette, Ashley!) – Kat

Sure, you’ve browsed Etsy to find handmade candlesquirky art, or even bridesmaids’ gifts — but how about office attire? There are hundreds of shops that sell professional, well-made clothes that can take you from the boardroom to casual Friday and beyond.

Here are seven Etsy shops to watch for workwear. Not only will you snag some stylish new duds, but you’ll help support indie sellers and small business owners. It’s a win-win.

heartmycloset

Seven of the Best Etsy Shops for Workwear: heartmycloset

Collage photo links: 123

Does Olivia Pope give you major wardrobe envy? Do you wish you could dress like Beyoncé on the daily? Then look no further than heartmycloset.

With designs based on TV characters, celebrities and vintage silhouettes, shop owner Cynthia creates inspired workwear in your choice of color and fabric, tailored to fit you perfectly. Because items are made to order, you can customize the fit — and the style — to suit your needs. Prices range from $66-$190.

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Fashion Startups To Know, Part Two: 25 Brands Making Bags and Shoes for Work

independent shoes and bags for workA while back we rounded up thirty workwear brands you probably hadn’t heard of, focusing on smaller, startup fashion companies serving up new, interesting clothes for working women. Shoes for work and bags for work (laptop totes and beyond) became such a huge portion of it we thought we’d save it for its own post — and here it is! Below: meet 25 companies on our radar catering to the market of working women. Ladies, do you prefer to buy from independent retailers, or do you just like to see what kind of products they’re imagining? Have you tried any of these brands? Do you know of any others that should be on our radar?

Independent Brands Making Shoes for Work

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30 Workwear Brands You Probably Haven’t Tried

30 Workwear Fashion Start-ups and Independent Clothing BrandsEvery professional woman shops at Ann Taylor, J.Crew, and Banana Republic for workwear — but what other options are there? I’m always inspired to see the number of workwear fashion start-ups and independent brands specializing in an aspect of workwear. Many of the founders have personally held corporate jobs, or created the brand to fill a gap in the market they saw. (If it doesn’t exist, create it, right?) These are some of the workwear fashion start-ups and other companies on my radar — ladies, which companies are your radar? Which have you purchased from (or which are you eyeing)? 

(Update: We’ve also rounded up 25 brands making bags and shoes for work!)

Pictured at top: Of Mercer / MM. LaFleur / Carrie Hammer

Independent Boutiques for Workwear

  • Argent – “We make smarter workwear. Someone had to.”
  • Citizens’ Mark (eco-friendly) – “Modern suiting for a generation of socially conscious, empowered women on the rise.”
  • Executive Ponies (Australian company) – “For the girl bosses and business babes.”
  • Gurjot New York – “The first collection ever designed for businesswomen, by a businesswoman, providing the best quality, fit, and design.”
  • Kit and Ace – “Technical clothing for men and women.”
  • Layo-G – “A luxury brand that provides edgy, tailored clothing for modern day women.”
  • MM. LaFleur – “A wardrobe solution for professional women. MM.LaFleur creates luxury apparel and accessories with the same attention to detail as a high-end fashion house.”
  • Of Mercer – “[F]ashionable and work-appropriate dresses, blazers, suiting & accessories for desk to dinner and beyond.”
  • Pivotte – “[E]asy care & worry free clothing for women on-the-go. Shop updated classics in technical fabrics for work, play, travel & everything in between.”
  • The Unstainable® Workwear Collection from Elizabeth & Clarke (taking preorders) – “Using a similar process that a flower does to repel the morning dew, our tiny Unstainable® fibers keep spills suspended above the fabric, preventing stains.”

Companies Perfecting the Office Dress

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Where to Find Fair Trade and Ethically-Sourced Clothing

Ethical Shopping | CorporetteIn our first post in our ethical shopping series, we rounded up several clothing brands made in the United States, mostly startups and small and/or independent labels. In part two, we shared a list of mainstream, more widely available workwear brands that sell clothing made in North America or Europe. Today we’re looking at clothing that’s fair trade certified, as well as clothing not officially considered fair trade but produced more responsibly or ethically than the average brand.

Of course, when a brand makes admirable claims like those, we as shoppers must simply take their word for it — but I would rather give my business to a company that explicitly details their (supposed) commitment to ethical labor practices and fair trade than to one who doesn’t say a word about its products’ origins or production. (Pictured: Brooks Brothers Wool Stretch Small Windowpane Circle Skirt, $168.)

Fair trade certification is more complicated than you might think; there’s more than one certifying organization, and each has a slightly different definition of the term “fair trade.” It’s also possible that we may not be doing as much good as we think by buying these products. Ndongo Sylla, a former Fairtrade International employee (who has a PhD in developmental economics), wrote a book last year called The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich (excerpt here in The Guardian). In The Economist’s book review, the reviewer called it “an arduous read” but wrote, “It is hard to dispute [Sylla’s] conclusion that, so far, the fair-trade labelling movement has been more about easing consciences in rich countries than making serious inroads into poverty in the developing world.” (Sigh.)

That said, here are several brands that engage in fair trade:

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“Made in USA,” Ethical Shopping, and Slow Fashion

Pleione Pleat Back Woven Print Top | CorporetteJohn Oliver’s recent segment on Last Week Tonight, his HBO show, has brought “fast fashion” back into the news — two years after the horrifying Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people. (The factory was linked to several well known U.S. and European clothing brands.) If you want to make ethical shopping choices, avoid contributing to sweatshop labor, and buy “Made in U.S.A.,” where do you start? Reader M wonders…

I am curious if you have written a post about domestic made corporate wear, shoes, handbags etc. I tried to search the blog but I didn’t find anything. I am very interested in having quality non-China made items. I love your blog and the helpful suggestions you offer.

It can be tough to find clothing and accessories that are made domestically — in other words, under U.S. labor and environmental laws. Of the clothing and shoes sold in this country, more than 97% is made overseas. In 1991, the figure was 44%.

We haven’t really covered this topic before (although commenters have been discussing it). This is the first in a series of posts about ethical shopping choices — we also plan to cover:

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