During the last decade, we have seen how many eco-friendly trends in fashion have arisen. Even big luxury brands have embraced the idea, investing considerable interest in making vegan clothing lines. Unfortunately, luxurious or not, vegan clothing isn’t cheap.
In fashion, we are used to having a wide array of options, from the cheap brands that everybody knows and uses to the high-end brands that only the rich get to wear. The options are there and cheap clothing these days doesn’t translate immediately in terrible quality. Yet, vegan clothing and accessories seem to be outside of this equation. At first sight, they are pricier and those brands that argue to be "equally accessible" often are hiding something about their products.
So, is it possible to have vegan products for cheap in fashion? At first sight, no. This is a complex segment of fashion that cannot be compared with others. You should be able to see such differences and understand why we are paying more for vegan clothing and accessories. Let's take a look.
Place of Origin
Let’s begin with some ethical matters. There is no shortage of disgraceful news regarding labor abuse in third-world countries. Such abuses are being perpetrated very often by brands we all know. From sportswear to high-end couture, countless brands take their manufacturing operations to poor countries where labor is exponentially cheaper.
While this may be positive for such economies, where thousands of jobs are being created, the situation also leads to awful cases of labor abuse, including child labor.
The way vegan clothing makes a difference is by respecting the labor conditions of workers around the world, developing healthy environments and empowering the people involved to live better lives. In the moment a vegan brand takes advantage of a situation like the one described above, it stops being a conscious, respect-worthy brand.
Of course, providing healthy work environments and favorable conditions for all workers increases costs. The problem is that non-vegan brands continue to make the most of abusive situations, lowering costs and finally offering cheap products.
The industrialization has brought us cheaper materials to use in fashion. The use of toxic chemicals and advanced procedures have allowed us to obtain materials that are cheaper to produce. However, the widespread use of these chemicals and procedures is also causing a massive damage to the environment.
Take for example genuine leather. This material requires multiple highly toxic chemicals that, after treating the material, are dumped in an irresponsible way. This industry alone, the leather one, is causing incalculable harm to the environment. The reason to do it? To create pretty leather jackets, handbags, and shoes.
In contrast, vegan fashion focuses on eco-friendly materials that do not impact on the environment during their creation. Some great examples of these materials are organic cotton and linen. The impact of these materials on the environment is exponentially lower in comparison with leather, fur, or wool.
The Craft of Artisans
Finally, one of the major reasons why vegan fashion is more expensive is because artisans take part in it. Professionals are involved in the process, investing their time and talent to create these products.
But why? Why not use the regular manufacture procedure that other brands do employ? Because factories are also a potent source of pollution. The heavy use of machinery and automated production lines, alongside with the chemicals released into the air and waters, are the perfect cocktail for disaster.
When it comes to vegan fashion, both for clothing and accessories, the approach is wildly different. The ones considered as artisans develop the product with a minimum intervention of powered machinery while using eco-friendly materials. The process is cleaner under any standards. It also offers a higher quality, indeed.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, what vegan fashion can offer us today continues to be more expensive than the regular option. What we have are the different points of views and arguments that benefit the vegan alternative.
We may be paying less for a popular brand we all know but it’s easy to detect the flaw in this choice. In order to save money, you may be supporting child labor, abusive working conditions, and mindless use of polluting elements that end up destroying the environment.Paying more for vegan products is something that will not change in the short term. Nevertheless, it is up to us to evaluate what our options are and if we are willing to support the wrong, unconscious alternative.