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Six Brands for the Stylish Vegan Professional: Clothes and Accessories

The Stylish Vegan Professional: Six Brands for Vegan Dress Shoes, Clothes and MoreAll 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 mentioning some brands, let’s review what isn’t vegan. Drawing from a post from 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? 

But 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:

Vegan workwear: Matt & Nat red vegan toteMatt & Nat, a Montreal vegan accessories brand launched in 1995, is an excellent source of stylish vegan accessories. In addition to avoiding the use of animal-based materials, the company uses recycled materials in its designs — for example, recycled bike tires. Its faux-leather offerings can be found at Nordstrom (where several of its bags are highly reviewed) and Amazon (ditto). Pictured is the ‘Schlepp’ Faux Leather Tote, PVC with a nylon lining made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. It’s $130 at Nordstrom, where other Matt & Nat bags range from $64.98 for a tote (sale price) to $175 for a laptop backpack. In March, the company launched their shoe line. A notable example: this pointed-toe flat, $85 at Vegan Chic.
Vegan workwear: black pumpsOlsenhaus founder Elizabeth Olsen (no relation to the Olsen twins) hopes her designs show “how easy it is to lead a compassionate lifestyle without sacrifice in luxury or style,” according to the brand’s website. Olsenhaus shoes are available at MooShoes (a vegan-owned company that sells cruelty-free items), and some styles are suitable for the office, such as this Classic Pump in Black Faux Leather, available for $165 in sizes 6-10. Their less conservative pumps include a few with striped, chevron, and metallic patterns.
Vegan workwear: black heelsBeyond Skin, a UK-based brand founded in 2001, offers vegan shoes, all of which are handmade in Spain. The website states the company’s philosophy: that “wearing alternatives to leather is the best way to help save our environment, reduce carbon emissions and our planet.” Beyond Skin’s online shop provides free delivery to the U.S. and Canada, and free exchanges, too. These Faux Leather Isabella Heels with 2.5″ heels and a padded insole are $120 at beyondskin.com.
Vegan workwear: gray toteNicora was created by designer Stephanie Nicora and sells shoes and accessories made from recycled materials as well as “new age leather substitutes.” It was launched with help from a 2013 Kickstarter that raised $80,351. The company’s website explains that the production of their items “doesn’t involve the exploitation of humans, animals, or the environment.” This faux-suede Jenny Shopping Tote (also available in black) is $230 at Nicorashoes.com.
Vegan workwear: red toteGunas’ tagline is “High Fashion. Zero Cruelty.” Founded in 2009, the brand mainly focuses on handbags, but they offer shoes, too. The 100%-vegan, sweatshop-free items were originally all made in NYC but are now imported from “artisan and small-scale ethical manufacturers” around the world. Gunas eschews PVC, a common leather alternative, in favor of coated canvas, nylon, eco-polyurethane, ultra-leather, ultra-suede, etc. — plus upcycled and recycled materials. The Madison shoulder bag is $175 at Gunasthebrand.com.
Vegan workwear: warm coatVaute Couture, launched in 2008 by designer and founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, was the first vegan brand to show at New York Fashion Week. The small label makes its clothing and accessories in NYC using “innovative, high-tech, sustainable textiles,” according to its website. The majority of the clothing styles aren’t suitable for most offices, but the coats are more versatile. The coat pictured, The Aidan, comes in XS-XXL and is made from 100% organic cotton moleskin with a lining of 100% recycled synthetic fibers. It’s well-insulated and designed to be worn in temperatures from 0-40° F (warmer than wool, the description boasts). The coat is $495 at Vautecouture.com.

(L-all)

Further Reading for the Vegan Professional:

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Social media pictures via Stencil.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this!

  2. New Tampanian :

    What are your favorite brands for buttery soft sheets? Preferably on the less expensive side unless easily found on Rue la or other similar site. Thanks!

  3. I love that Nicola Jenny tote! I’m definitely going vegan for my next work bag.

    • Moitrayee :

      I strongly recommend you to check ”Angela Roi ” and ”Denise Robool” Their quality is phenomenal and loom extremely sophisticated!

  4. In this vein: What do people think of Rothy’s flats? I think they look cute and have heard good things about their comfort, but I’m wondering if they’re maybe a bit too casual for work. For reference, I work in a business casual office that trends towards the more conservative end of the spectrum, plus I work on the same floor as the c-suite where investors might be around semi-regularly.

  5. Anonymous :

    I just want to point out that in the list of materials made from animals, there are included several fabric types. Whether or not these are vegan depends completely on the fibers used to make them.

    Tweed, serge, velvet , gabardine , grosgrain, jersey, and satin are all words used to describe how the fibers are manipulated into being a fabric. They can be made of cotton, wool, silk, rayon, polyester, or any of a number of other fibers.

    So don’t use these terms to figure out if something is vegan. Look for the fiber content, not how the fabric is knit or woven.

    Satin is not a fiber. Polyester (which most satin these days is made of) is the fiber.

    Velvet can be silk. Or it can be rayon. Or cotton, in which case it is called velveteen. Or mohair.

  6. Minnie Beebe :

    Matt & Nat bags are awesome. I will warn you that a bag with a folded corner will wear over time, so go with stiched shapes.

    I’ll also put in a plug for Nau clothing. I’m not sure if it’s officially vegan, but the look is similar to the jacket posted. I have a couple of things from there that I love. Not sure if it would work in a business attire environment, but I have a trench coat (black) from there that I love, and that’s versatile enough to pair with a range of attire.

  7. Anonymous :

    Great suggestions! For bags, I would also check out Denise Roobol, Angela Roi, LaBante, and Wilby.

  8. Thank you so much for this!!! I always read your blog and I am so happy to see you discuss compassionate options for the professional woman. May all beings be happy, may all beings be free.

    • I agree, though I do NOT think I could live as a VEGAN, b/c I love red meat. Call me strange, but I think eateing RED meat makes us all more carniviourous, which is a good thing. Myrna needs red meat to do her marathon’s and I do also even tho I do NOT run. I do go to court, though and need to be ready for anything thrown at me, either by opossing council or the judge. YAY!!!

  9. I got an Angela Roi handbag for my birthday and I love it. Also check out Vickerey and Bead & Reel, both fairly stylish vegan online stores (not strictly professional clothing, but they carry a variety of brands).

  10. For shoes I’d add Wills Vegan Shoes out of the UK (often free shipping to the US), and Bourgeois Boheme. Truth belts is an excellent company as well.

  11. It’s great to see this article. Thanks for pulling this information together.

    I am vegan-ish when it comes to clothing, shoes, etc. In other words, I avoid animal materials as much as possible, but I do focus on the main components and what is identified in descriptions. (I avoid wool, down, silk, fur (obviously) and leather in everything except the occasional pair of essential shoes when I can’t find a vegan alternative. (I have impossible to fit feet.) Also, it’s possible that some of the clothes I have include unlabelled components like glue, thread or buttons that are made of animal materials.

    One of the things I’ve discovered (which is good for my wallet) is that the man-made items (e.g., synthetic shoes, non-wool suits, down-alternative coats) are often much less expensive than the non-vegan counterparts. Unfortunately, they are sometimes also kind of cheap-looking or less durable, but that’s a (cheap) price worth paying if I can avoid leather.

    For suits, my typical go-to brand is Ann Taylor’s All-Season Stretch Suiting – I’d love to hear what others recommend. For winter coats, I’ve found that the less expensive Calvin Klein puffer coats are often down-free and toasty warm for NYC.

    The Lipault tote bags are a good, inexpensive alternative to the Longchamps Le Pliage bags (which have leather handles) or Tumi bags if you need a lightweight bag to schlep work files (or a bag for interviews when you are carrying resumes etc). I have some Matt and Nat bags, too, but they can be heavy.

    Shoes of Prey makes custom shoes and many of their styles can be made with vegan materials. So far, they only offer black and a nude/tan for the uppers, but they have pretty pink and aqua vegan linings available. The price is fairly reasonable (e.g., about USD $150 all-in for a pump with a 2″ heel) for a custom shoe and their return policy is great. Unfortunately, the shoes didn’t fit my feet but I think most people would find that the shoes are comfortable. The vegan material is less flexible than leather but the shoes look beautiful.

  12. Alternatives? :

    These retailers mostly sell accessories. What about suiting and skirts/pants? I’ve looked for months to no avail. Cannot wear animal fibers for health reasons so it is incredibly frustrating to have found nothing that works. the matronly polyester suits you find at department stores (like Macy’s) are something I can’t bring myself to wear.

    • You should try Boden’s Ponte collection. They have really stylish suits in black, navy, and more fun colors like red, teal and burgundy that mix and match really well. They are stretchy, comfortable, and look very professional. You can do skirt suits, pant suits, or crop-pant suits, and have the option of one-button or two button-blazers. Love the fit and they are reasonably priced. http://www.bodenusa.com/womens-coats-jackets/blazers/we545-blk/womens-black-ponte-elizabeth-ponte-blazer

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