Female-founded businesses are killing it in fashion, especially when it comes to sustainable style. In the area of ethical and vegan design, women are leading the way – by experimenting with material innovation, finding sustainable solutions, and putting creativity first when it comes to design. Celebrating female-owned businesses matters to Immaculate Vegan all year, but on the occasion of International Women's Day on 8 March, it's time to shine the spotlight extra brightly on female change-makers making the fashion industry a kinder and more mindful place.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
Luxtra – Jessica Kruger (main image)
A true pioneer in sustainable fashion, Luxtra puts plant-based, eco-friendly leather front and centre of their collection of high-end vegan bags. Championing mainly materials such as leathers made from pineapples, apples, and cacti, Sydney-born, London-based founder Jessica Kruger has ensured that Luxtra sets an amazing example for vegan brands, and delivers a product for the conscious consumer who wants fashion that no animal died for – but that also treads lightly on the planet.
Watson & Wolfe – Helen Farr-Leander
With a background in leather goods at Aspinal of London, Helen Farr-Leander knows what makes an accessory stand out. When launching her vegan label Watson & Wolfe, she decided to use that expertise to bridge a gap in the market: sustainable vegan accessories for men. Still one of the few brands in the niche, Watson & Wolfe harnesses Helen's eye for style and combines it with a thorough attention to sustainability to offer wallets, bags, and other accessories. Women don't need to feel left out either – they've just launched their debut women's collection.
Taylor + Thomas – Jessica Taylor Mead and Elizabeth Thomas James
After meeting on a shoe design course, Jessica Taylor Mead and Elizabeth Thomas James united their passion for current, high-end styling and ethics to create a luxury vegan shoe label eponymously named Taylor + Thomas. The two former stylists take inspiration from the Sixties and Seventies for their range of footwear made in a solar-powered, completely vegan factory in Italy. They also incorporate plant-based, sustainable materials such as corn into their offering.
Culthread – Rina Einy
From professional tennis player to investment banker, Rina Einy is the career adventurer who has tried it all. While working in the outerwear industry, Rina found herself in a similar position to many vegans – struggling to find a coat that matched her ethics. To create designs that she wanted to wear herself, Rina launched Culthread – a fully vegan brand focusing mainly on faux fur, but also offering down-free puffer jackets and accessories such as face coverings and scarves.
Neu Nomads – Karen Wood
If clean lines, easy-to-wear silhouettes and breezy, loose fits are your thing, Neu Nomads is the brand for you. This Brooklyn-based label, specialising in fabrics such as Tencel, satin Modal and organic linen, was founded by designer Karen Wood. Using biodegradable packaging and producing their designs with a closed-loop technology, in a factory powered by solar energy, Neu Nomads is aiming to make every step of their process as kind to the Earth as possible.
Nina Rein – Julia Ickert and Susanne Kinast
A trained designer, Julia started thinking about sustainability when her son was born. She was faced with the idea that conventional textile production, with its unsustainable practices, was not something that she wanted to be a part of anymore. After firstly changing her diet to a more planet-friendly one, Julia also transitioned her work to more mindful production. She was joined by Susanne, who had the same feelings, and together they created Nina Rein – a collection of timeless classics in materials such as linen, Lyocell and organic cotton.
Pure by Luce – Loes Vandekerckhove
When discussing sustainable fashion, activewear is an area that is often overlooked. But as it tends to feature plastic-derived materials such as nylon and polyester, the conversation about ethical activewear is one we need to be having. Loes Vandekerckhove knows this, and when she founded Pure by Luce, sustainable production practices were her first priority. As a result, this travel-inspired sportswear label specialises in regenerated fabrics such as ECONYL and recycled polyester. Organic cotton also features heavily.
Good Guys Don't Wear Leather – Marion Hanania
Designer and artist Marion started France's first vegan shoe company in 2011. Good Guys Don't Wear Leather is, of course, leather-free – but the company is also thoughtful about the impact of fashion on the planet. Using non-food grade cereal waste, canvas, natural rubber and wood in their designs, the brand is now also working with apple leather. In 2018, Good Guys won the Technology and Innovation Award at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Milan, and this year, they are heading towards becoming fully recyclable.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is the founder of the world's first digital vegan fashion magazine, Vilda Magazine and the host of fashion podcast Catwalk Rebel. She was selected as one of Glamour UK's Most Empowering Nu-Gen Activists and is a frequent public speaker on the topic of vegan fashion and material innovation. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, read our interview with her.
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