Guest post: The first-ever San Francisco vegan fashion show! »
When I became a vegan, a list of “projects” arose for me. Looking at my life as different projects makes challenges feel more manageable and gives me an excuse to do Cher’s squeal from Clueless—“Ooh, project!”
There was the “Find a Vegan Cheese” project; the “Find a Cruelty-Free Body Product” project and—being obsessed with fashion—the “Create a Vegan Wardrobe” project.
I gotta tell ya, as much as I enjoy researching my favorite labels for the 3 percent of their merchandise that’s vegan, it’s still a daunting task. So when a clothing or footwear line comes along that is ENTIRELY vegan, I am beyond happy. And when a vegan fashion show arises to showcase the efforts of vegan designers and entrepreneurs, you don’t just sit by. These designers not only have the challenge of researching and acquiring legitimately vegan and ethically-produced materials, but also of becoming profitable in an industry that has mostly no regard for animal suffering. So you go to the show. You go, and you support them.
San Francisco’s first-ever vegan fashion show (Canada’s ahead of us on this one) happened last Saturday, as part of the 11th Annual World Veg Fest. Karine Brighten organized the show pro bono; a planner of eco- and animal-friendly events for places like Farm Sanctuary, Nature’s Express, and Cinnaholic, she’s also vegan. The audience packed the auditorium to see the lovely vegan models walking the show in cruelty-free clothing, accessories, and footwear. Rory Freedman of Skinny Bitch emceed the event.
Six vegan labels showed: Mission Savvy provided pieces from various designers split into five collections that each benefit different animal welfare causes. Five percent of proceeds are donated to related organizations. Cri de Cœur had footwear made with animal-free, eco-friendly materials and without toxic PVC or vinyl. Vaute Couture brought animal-free, classic and trend-conscious outerwear, tees, and sweatshirts made of high-performance, recycled, recyclable, upcycled, closed-loop, zero-waste fabrics and deadstock, and vegetable ivory buttons. Melie Blanco supplied affordable but luxurious faux-leather handbags. Reco Jeans brought their recycled high-end denim. Lion’s Share Industries had eco-friendly T-shirts adorned with vegan-artist-commissioned graphics. Pansy Maiden provided handmade handbags of animal-free, fair-trade, plant-dyed, organic, reclaimed/vintage fabrics and animal-derivative-free glue.
One of the brilliant aspects of the show was splitting the event into sections to highlight each line, including a description. This was a nice way to educate the audience, many of whom may not have known much about these particular designers or the vegan movement in the fashion industry in general.
From a purely design perspective, I had mixed feelings about the pieces—just like how I would feel at any fashion show! Because I’m not a hater, here are the items that I loved and with which I would now like to fill my closet:
1. The adorable “Upcycled Indigo Windbreaker” from Vaute Couture (made with the remnants of another Vaute coat’s lining), with an elasticized empire waist, oversized gathered collar, and bubble hem. [Ed.: LAURA WANTS ONE VERY BADLY];
2. The edgy “Stella Cutout Cage Wedge”, which wraps the feet in bars of faux patent leather;
3. A cropped black blazer with gold trim from Mission Savvy.
As for the venue, I think Veg Fest was a perfect place to have the first show, because it was the most visible way to promote it to the vegan community. For future shows—and according to Rory Freedman, there will be one next year—I’d love to see a more luxe location, one that can house an show focused on style in a way that lives up to the pieces being showcased. A night spot, a gallery, a loft…. The auditorium at the County Fair Building kinda screams “I also did my high school play here.”
Still, that a vegan fashion show even happened, that there is a fashion community that cares enough about animal rights and environmental welfare to put a show like this together speaks volumes about how far veganism has come. Seeing a group of designers and entrepreneurs who have navigated their way to success while sticking to their ethics is beyond inspirational. Here’s hoping that their efforts will not only inspire current designers to rethink their practices, but that they will ignite something in a new set of vegan artists and visionaries who may look at a pair of shoes at Saks and think “if only…”
Check out more photos, including behind-the-scenes shots, here.
This is Vi Zahajszky’s second post for Vegansaurus (you can see her first here!). Vi left her motherland of Hungary as a child and has spent most of her life in Boston and New York. Two years ago she drove across the country to San Francisco with husband Chris Carlozzi and a rescue pup named The Bandit. Here, among other things, she’s studying fashion design and pattern-making, and has plans to develop a vegan clothing line. Also, she’s enjoying no blizzards. Photo enhancing by Chris Carlozzi.