Lifestyle Opinion

Why I Still Wear Leather and Wool (UPDATED 6/19)

Update 6/19: Since posting this, I’ve gotten rid of 3 pairs of shoes, two blouses, and all my leather purses. I wrote the original piece in the winter and completely forgot about all my leather sandals and silk blouses, so they weren’t accounted for in the initial tally. This jacket is in storage. I’ll donate it by December. It took me a year but I’m getting close to a fully vegan wardrobe!

Full disclosure: I’m a vegan blogger whose wardrobe isn’t completely vegan.  Please read through the entire post to understand why.

I used to wear a lot of non-vegan clothing.  Not only did I live in one of the of the fashion capitals of the world, but surviving through a New York winter meant a closet full of wool, down, and leather.

It wasn’t until January of 2015 that I realized the incredible harm I was causing and promised not to support companies that exploit animals.  I haven’t bought any new non-vegan clothing items in a year, but I do still wear the old ones–here’s why.

The damage has been done

My non-vegan clothes were purchased in ignorance.  Now I do research before I buy, but since I’ve already made my poor decision by purchasing leather and wool in the first place, getting rid of my clothes won’t undo the harm.

I honor the lives that were taken when I put on my non-vegan clothing.  I promise never to cause so much harm again and actively search for cruelty-free clothing.

I only wear leather or wool when absolutely necessary

There are certain things I keep just in case I’m in a bind and need something to wear.  For example, it’s been hard finding heels that I absolutely love and are also vegan.  Until I find worthy replacements, I keep a stash of my old leather heels for dressy situations that call for it until I can curate my vegan shoe collection.

If you see photos of me in leather or wool on this blog, it’s specifically because I was out in a colder climate and needed to wear the only warm jackets I have.

It’s cold

I spend most of the year in New York, and even though we’re having a mild winter, I still need warm layers.  I’ve gotten rid of about 8 of my 13 wool sweaters and bought 3 wool-free sweaters in their place, but it won’t be until next year that I’m able to rid myself of wool.

I’m not a single-issue vegan

To run out and buy replacements for my entire wardrobe would be giving in to consumerism, and with so called “compassionate” brands like H&M that sell affordable vegan-friendly items made by underage children, I can’t just buy from a company whose manufacturing practices I’m not familiar with.  I have to do a lot of research before making a purchase to know I’m supporting vegan brands without violating my other standards.

I have a system

I rid my wardrobe of at least three non-vegan items of clothing every season and replace them with something vegan.  That gives me time to find replacements without freezing to death in the process.

Today, I have 3 wool sweaters, one leather jacket, and one wool jacket that I wear on a regular basis.   There are a few more in my closet but most are set to be donated in the next few months.

If you’re still offended by my wardrobe after my explanation, I lovingly bid you adieu.  I’ll never apologize for my version of veganism or bend my support of one cause to appease the vegan community.  Veganism is meant to be followed “as far as practicable and possible,” so if I can’t afford to revamp my wardrobe with high-quality, truly ethical vegan clothing all at once, it doesn’t make me any less vegan.

If you had a similar experience trying to transition your wardrobe, where do you shop now?  Put some of your favorite vegan-friendly clothing lines in the comments section and I’ll check them out.

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17 Comments on "Why I Still Wear Leather and Wool (UPDATED 6/19)"

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jade
Guest

I love how honest this post was, I completely agree with you and I take the same approach. Great post! x

Everything\'s Going Green
Guest

I’m taking the same approach as you. I’ve only really recently converted to veganism from vegetarianism and there are so many steps to take! I completely overhauled my diet with immediate effect, but I’m still using and wearing some wool and leather clothing and shoes I already have. As you say, the damage has already been done so I’d rather get full use out of the items I’ve bought, then when they wear out I’ll replace them with completely vegan items. I’m also taking the same approach with makeup and toiletries.

Akash
Guest

Very authentic. Great perspective.

Victoria
Guest

Great article! i had no idea veganism extended to clothing. Your insight is indeed inspiring and practical!

I am on a journey to a plant – based lifestyle for my family and I – and find many vegan ideals to be quite stern, especially for beginners like myself who normally join such paths for health reasons alone and eventually develop an attachment to the moral side of things!

Thanks for this

Vic xoxo

Tim Hordo
Guest
Hi Nzinga, great post. I applaud your honesty and disclosure. As a new vegan myself (less than 1 year), I am always concerned that my non-vegan friends will find it hypocritical when I show up to an event wearing leather dress shoes. But up here in Edmonton, Canada, it’s not easy (and believe me I’m trying) to find vegan alternatives to replace my old items. And of course, it’s not exactly realistic to go out and completely do over a wardrobe overnight, because as you mentioned, proper research must be done to ensure you’re supporting the right companies…and for budgetary… Read more »
Lynda Wise
Guest

Hi Tim, I’m in Calgary, Alberta, Canada! I am looking for vegan footwear, outerwear and clothing in general. It is challenging here. Congrats on going vegan. I’m a new vegan, one year old.

Tim Hordo
Guest
Oh well hello Lynda, my neighbour to the south! Thanks for the kind wishes and congratulations to you also! Finding vegan footwear is a challenge indeed. I had to buy boots from Will’s vegan (US via UK I believe) and I still can’t find dress shoes in a store that are actually vegan. Some use all synthetic materials, but will have animal by-products in the adhesives… doing the research before hand is crucial, because full materials aren’t usually disclosed, and the staff often don’t have a clue. After months of hitting stores, talking to staff, and researching brands, I’ve come… Read more »
TiredVegan
Guest
I’m sorry but this “version” of veganism is not veganism but vegetarianism. Animal products are completely unnecessary and it’s completely “practical” to get rid of them. I have friends who live in NYC and even in Mongolia who are vegan who don’t need to wear the skin of a dead sentient being to be warm. In fact the artificial fibres are often warmer than animal products. I really wish people who were not vegan would stop saying they are vegan. It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion out there. What I see here is someone who loves their shoes and… Read more »
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