Skirts and jackets made of aluminum-can pull tabs and cork were among the animal-friendly pieces of apparel on display at the second Vegan Fashion Week held Oct. 10-15 in downtown Los Angeles. (The first one took place in March, also in DTLA.)
Emmanuelle Rienda, the event organizer, acknowledged that “vegan” might not conjure images of luxury, given the ubiquity of fur and leather in high fashion. But she rejects that with this season’s theme, “Fashion Is Activism,” which promotes eye-catching fashion that is also cruelty-free and sustainable.
“My mission is to not only better the lives of the animals but also raise awareness and educate people,” Rienda said backstage before an Oct. 15 runway presentation at the California Market Center, “so they can make healthy choices while picking what they wear.”
Vegan Fashion Week celebrated animal-free fashion with events including a two-day trade show featuring runway presentations, showroom visits, a vegan lounge, a vegan clothing swap and a “Future of Fashion” conference with designers, scientists, and policymakers discussing the industry and emerging alternatives to animal-derived products.
The week kicked off with an awards show that lauded the work of vegan icons not just limited to fashion. Honorees in nine categories included photographer Parker Day, celebrity stylist Tara Swennen and singer-songwriter Kate Nash, among others, with the awards handed out by celebrities (and well-known vegans) including actress Mena Suvari and musician Moby.
A multitude of designer brands walked the runway at the penthouse of the California Market Center on Monday. The New York-based clothing brand Enda opened the first of the two runway shows, which was followed by a group show featuring designs by Wasted L.A., Nicoline Hansen and Mayd in Chyna, among others.
Finland-based designer Minttu Melasalmi debuted a spring and summer 2020 collection — dubbed Never-Leather Land — that used a cork-derived fabric as an alternative to leather in tailored statement pieces.
“As designers and lovers of high fashion it’s almost natural for us to want to work with beautiful fabrics like silk and fur,” Denmark-based designer Nicoline Hansen said backstage before the show. “But knowing that that’s not an option actually pushes you to be more creative with your designs.”
Many of the designers attending Rienda‘s series of events believe the future of fashion is vegan. Ran Enda, the founder of Enda, believes veganism is not a diet but a lifestyle, and producing cruelty-free items gives vegans a viable way to maintain it. Her vision translated as classic slip dresses and wrapped, toga-like garments worthy of a goddess made of cotton and dyed with plant-based ingredients such as onion skin, red cabbage and turmeric.
Enda said she started her brand after seven years of working heavily with leather and fur while at Ralph Lauren “I found that my job did not fit into my lifestyle,” Enda said. “That bothered me.”
Based on the creations Enda, Melasalmi and others sent along the catwalk, the message that consumers don’t have to compromise between style and sustainability.