By Marie Oser
Vegan Fashion. What is it, exactly? The vegan lifestyle is inherently cruelty-free and posits that no animal is exploited in the production of any item, be it food, clothing, accessories, personal care products or furniture.
Compassion for animals is the basis for the ethical choices that vegans make and compassion in fashion is a logical extension. Living the vegan lifestyle is also the environmental choice because excluding animal products is a very effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Going vegan has become very trendy and it seems every day another star athlete or well-known celebrity makes the decision to kick animal products from their menu.
There are, however consumer items in all areas of life that exploit animals one way or another and while most begin by choosing the plant-based diet, eventually other areas of lifestyle come under scrutiny.
For clothing to be considered vegan, materials like wool, leather and even silk are not acceptable. Does that mean vegans cannot be fashionable? Not at all! Vegan fashion is not an oxymoron.
Celebrity designers like Stella McCartney offer high-end cruelty-free vegan wares. Stella, lifelong vegetarian and daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney began designing sexy, smartly tailored fashions in the mid 1990's. These days, Stella operates 16 stores from England to Los Angeles, Paris to Tokyo and her collections are distributed in over 50 countries.
In 2007, Natalie Portman launched her own line of vegan shoes after teaming up with specialty retailer Té Casan. Natalie has been vegetarian since childhood and became vegan after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. Natalie contributes a portion of the sales of her luxury line of shoes to charity.
It's wonderful that celebrities create and support high fashion vegan threads and accessories. They shine the light of the media on cruelty in fashion and raise the bar in the industry by creating gorgeous high-end vegan goods.
The majority of us however, do not often spend $800 on shoes or thousands on a designer vegan bag. Eco-vegan fashionistas who love the look and feel of high-end designer bags, but not the high-end price tag can check out GUNAS of New York.
The line, described as 'Progressive Luxury' debuted to rave reviews during fashion week in 2010. The bags, designed for both men and women average around $200 to $500 and look you paid three times as much.
The designer and co-founder Sugandh Goel makes use of modern eco-materials. The bags are constructed with combination of specialty man made fabrics that give these bags a unique lightweight and structured look.
GUNAS bags have an exclusivity policy and are produced in limited quantities, with no more than 250 of any style in each collection. The stylishly bold look and attention to details like Italian zippers and lightweight eco-smart materials make GUNAS the brand my vegan fashion accessory, pick of the year!
VIDEO: Interview with Sugandh Goel
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