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.
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.