Vegans hit the runway

Samantha Bridges

Every year our closet goes through a routine of “out with the old and in with the new.” We want our closet to stay trendy and current, so we replace old clothes with something new. However, what if your closet was about to make the ultimate transformation? Imagine you were transforming your closet into vegan.

A woman’s closet is her sanctuary. Throwing away some old clothes can be heartbreaking enough, but what does it take to completely change the way you think about the clothes you wear? The first step into understanding vegan fashion is to think of it from the animal’s point of view, and to prioritize their wants over fashion.

Toronto vegan fashion designer, Renia Pruchnicki, lives her life in the fashion industry, but originally never saw herself as a future vegan.

“Originally, I just wanted to become more healthy. I never even thought about becoming vegan. It wasn’t until I started changing my diet that I realized how poorly we are treating animals,” Pruchnicki said.

After twelve years in business, her company Truth, specializing in vegan belts, found that switching your accessories to non-vegan are the first steps in changing your wardrobe.

“I think the biggest difference between non-vegan and vegan fashion are accessories, because before you become a vegan, everyone has a leather belt, and leather shoes,” Pruchnicki said.

Switching to vegan clothing is not just about changing your clothes, but alternating your lifestyle. Pruchnicki believes that humans are resistant to change, so if you’re going to make the decision to wear vegan clothes, start slowly.

“I don’t think it matters how you transition. People can’t change overnight, because some people buy my belts but keep their leather ones because they don’t want to throw them away,” Pruchnicki said. “There’s a lot of people who still have some leather in their closet. I mean, throwing out 5 pairs of leather shoes doesn’t make sense to me.”

Being able to shop vegan in the city is limited, despite the growing popularity of vegan. When thinking about switching over to vegan, researching the types of materials that vegan stores use, and where to find certain items can keep you up-to-date with fashion trends.

Toronto vegan shopper, Ashkon Hobooti, knows everything he needs to know about vegan fashion, and strongly believes in the animals needs. To make the change, the first thing you need to know is that it’s cruelty-free.

“You’re not wearing something that use to be breathing. To me, that’s the most important thing to understand,” Hobooti said.

Hobooti who use to work at a Toronto vegan shoe store called “Left Feet” believes that what makes vegan fashion so trendy is that it’s different, and since fashion changes daily, every designer is eager to come up with the next best thing that is different.

“People tend to gravitate towards new and exciting things, and I think that’s why vegan fashion is so trendy,” Hobooti said.

Hobooti, looked for guidance to learn about vegan fashion when he moved to Toronto.

“I contacted the Toronto Vegetarian Association when I moved to Toronto in 2004 because they have many resources, but also volunteers and members that know exactly where to find the best of everything, whether it’s shoes, coats, belts or whatever,” Hobooti said.

When you decide to make the switch to vegan fashion, it’s important to look to a high power for advice. Meaghan Flint, a fashion student at the London College of Fashion, says that many celebrities and famous fashion designers have set the bar high for vegan fashion, generating popularity.

“I know that Stella McCartney doesn’t use any leather or fur in her designs. When you take a big name like hers, vegan fashion automatically becomes more trendy, and people are more likely to shop vegan, or at least experiment more with their wardrobe,” Flint said.

In the fashion world, the name means everything. However, in the vegan fashion world, the message behind the clothes becomes dominant.

“I know that her mother was an animal rights activist, so she grew up in that kind of environment, so it’s easy for her to show that in her fashion,” Flint said.

“She has that mind set of what is trendy and what can make people feel good. I think that’s why people shop vegan, and it’s why people should give it a try because people want to feel good when they buy a new outfit. Why not support a good cause while doing it?” Flint said.

It’s difficult for people to give up things that they’re use to, and fashion is no exception. Although people are resistant to change, the benefits that come from vegan fashion are endless. You can keep your trendy look and feel good about where your clothes come from. However, it doesn’t mean you have to throw away your genuine leather jacket, or your leather shoes. Wear alternatives that provide the same look, but don’t harm any animals in the making.

Photo courtesy of Renia Pruchnicki.

Photo courtesy of Renia Pruchnicki.

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