The Fashion Institute of Technology and PETA came together once again to discuss vegan and sustainable clothing as part of the school’s Sustainability Awareness Week.
Designers and industry leaders gathered to talk shop about environmentally sound fashion trends and the growing interest in animal-free materials. They stressed that when considering sustainable practices in fashion, we must address animal issues alongside the industry’s environmental impact and ask ourselves if a sustainable business model can include the breeding, confining, and killing of billions of animals every year so that they can be turned into shoes and sweaters.
Aspiring designers got the chance to learn about innovative vegan design and textile advancements and address the panelists with questions about getting started in ethical fashion and reaching conscientious consumers.
The panel included the following experts:
- Rae Nicoletti, who studied leather handwork under Hermès master artisan Béatrice Amblard before launching all-vegan accessories brand HOZEN
- Ran Enda, who designed for top luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg before founding vegan luxury fashion brand ENDA
- Joshua Katcher, the founder of ethical menswear brand Brave GentleMan, a company that embraces a slow-fashion production model and invests in sustainable innovation, superior vegan materials, and ethical labor
- Phil America, a contemporary artist, designer, and activist who has exhibited his work in museums around the world in collaboration with the United Nations and luxury men’s fashion brands
- PETA Associate Director Ashley Byrne, who has spent 12 years advocating for animals killed for their skin
Thanks to innovative companies and compassionate consumers, the future is looking bright for animals, indeed, as record numbers of designers ban fur, exotic skins, mohair, angora, and other animal-derived materials and embrace revolutionary new fabrics—including vegan leather made from recycled PET (plastic bottles), grain-based biopolyol, and pineapple husks; faux fur made from hemp and frayed denim; vegan knits made from Tencel, cotton, and soy; and down-free options made from ceiba tree fibers, recycled polyester, and bamboo.
Feeling inspired? Check out PETA’s fashion bible, How to Wear Vegan, for more tips on confidently dressing yourself in compassion from head to toe.