How to be ethically chic
Cruelty-free fashion blogger Shruti Jain on why being vegan or vegetarian can (and should) extend to our wardrobes
Being a vegetarian, and now a vegan for five years, I never quite understood how people could ditch meat and animal products on their plate. yet buy leather goods or products that contribute to animal cruelty. I still don't get it. It's this thought that prompted me to start a vegan fashion blog; it's an attempt to combine style and ethics in a way that proves it's not only possible to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle - but look chic while doing so.
Contrary to popular belief, veganism isn't just a diet but a lifestyle choice that shuns animal cruelty in every way. When it comes to the world of fashion, that means banishing products that are made using animal skin or animal byproducts; leather, suede, fur, wool, silk and feathers have to go. When it comes to makeup and beauty, this means ditching products that contain ingredients like carmine, beeswax, honey, lanolin, etc. It also means avoiding products that require animal testing.
Why the need to shop ethically?
Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, and also one of the most exploitative when it comes to human labour. As consumers, we have the power to change that by simply choosing how we spend our money. As awareness spreads, more people are realising how the dirhams they spend affect the environment. This is bringing a slow but impactful shift to the industry with brands being pushed to focus on sustainable collections.
What can I do as an individual?
Remember, the change starts with you. We can all make a difference by following some simple tips:
Less is more: I completely believe in Vivienne Westwood's philosophy on consumerism which is 'buy less, choose well, make it last'. Although fast fashion might have us believing otherwise, we need to buy fewer products and treasure what we have.
Shop local: When you do need to shop, support local brands. That also means buying from local artisans when travelling.
Be mindful: When you buy something, learn about the brand and its ethos. Research where its products are made, what materials are used, and whether people were paid fairly to make them. Once you get answers, you'll know for yourself whether you want to buy that brand or not.
Talk about it: I've seen first-hand that striving for a sustainable lifestyle is contagious, and people want to learn more. Use the power of social media and your inner circle to share the positive changes you're making to educate and inspire others.
I know this sounds challenging - but it doesn't mean you have to wear dowdy clothing and unflattering shoes. My ethical wardrobe has everything from luxury brands like Stella McCartney and Cartier to sky-high heels made from apple leather (yes, that's a thing) to make-up from coveted brands like Kat Von D and Charlotte Tilbury. Today, I enjoy scouting for ethical brands online and through my travels. And over the years, vegan options are only growing and getting better.
(Shruti Jain is the founder of www.styledestino.com).