Accessory brand Votch is on a mission to create stylish minimalist watches (and more) from innovative vegan leathers. Proving that you don't have to be cruel to be cool, this brand has been featured in VOGUE, Forbes, Cosmopolitan and Stylist. Votch has also appeared on Dragon's Den and won awards from PETA.
With every purchase from Votch's range, the brand plants a mangrove in Madagascar, to help provide natural habitats for wildlife and an income for locals. The brand also has a recycling scheme where old watches can be sent in, to minimise waste.
Founder Laura Way runs the company with her husband Simon and their re-homed pooch Rolo. Years ago, Laura was diagnosed with topic steroid withdrawal – a condition that made her skin fall off. During her time in recovery, Laura turned to documentaries on subjects including animal welfare. When she learned about the treatment of animals in industries that use their skins, she related their pain to her own at losing her skin, and promised to never wear the skin of another living being again. With a newfound vegan perspective post-recovery, Laura wanted to create a cruelty-free business that could make a change in the world. When an old watch strap broke, the idea of making vegan watches was born.
“Our values are simple, and that is to continually do the best we can do. We are always striving as a company to do better and to create a product that inflicts no harm to animals with the smallest footprint for the environment.”
Sustainability is key in the brand's material choices. Pineapple leather Piñatex and apple-based material AppleSkin are both created using waste from the fruit industry, which is both a way to minimise waste, and a move away from animal skins and petroleum-derived plastics.
Votch has employed a team to help source factories that would not only be able to make the watches, but also comply with high ethical standards. Together, they visited and vetted several, settling on a factory that prioritises fair pay, offers promotion opportunities and has safe facilities.
Votch works with a factory in Shenzhen, China. The owner's wife is a keen plant eater, often offering vegan delicacies to the team during one of their regular visits. The manager believed that Votch wouldn't put 'made in China' on their watches – but the brand is proud of where their product is made and the team they work with. The label also partners with factories such as Veshin, who are committed to creating vegan-friendy products with a low environmental impact.
All Votch packaging is recyclable. The brand also uses compostable mailers.
Votch is a PETA-Approved Vegan brand, and they regularly partner with charities that help animals - during the time of the partnership, they donate part of their profits to support the charity's work.
You can read more about vegan leather in our articles Does Ethical Leather Exist – and What is Vegan Leather? and What is Vegan Leather Made From – and is it Sustainable?