You only need to search 'vegan' and Google trends shows you a steady growth over the past five years for online searches.
When you search 'vegan fashion', the same steady trends correlates with the trend in 'vegan' so it’s plain to see the steady growth in popularity towards a plant-based culture.
'Veganuary' and breaking records
Veganuary, like Movember, challenges participants to maintain an action for the whole of the month.
While Movember aims to focus on maintaining a moustache in the name of men's health, Veganuary challenges you to maintain a vegan diet for the whole of January, in the name of saving animals' lives.
In 2018, Vegnuary broke all the records of its previous years.
Surveys show 70,000 omnivores took part, while the whole event saw 168,500 total participants, trumping the 2015 total of 59,500.
Since then, veganism in the UK increased to around 600,000 people -doubling in just a couple of years, making it a growing market for businesses, especially within the fashion industry.
Veganism and fashion going hand-in-hand
So then, what does this mean for the fashion world? With a growing market comes a growth in brands bidding for custom.
Since 2015, more and more fashion brands have focused on targeting a growing vegan fashion market. From high fashion in Stella McCartney, to fast-fashion and smaller, more niche brands, working in specific areas like hair accessories, such as Kuma Design, or handbag and accessories design like Labante London, the supply is matching the need.
Multiple sources believe vegan fashion is going to be a major trend for 2018/19.
To be specific, the creation of vegan silk, leather among other materials is the beginning of an era that matches a generation who thinks differently about the world, and is looking at the best ways to maintain and love it.
However, vegan materials pose a separate problem.
Vegan materials vs eco-friendly materials
You might think vegan materials are great, however, they aren't always friendly. While they might not have a direct impact on animal welfare, the way these materials are produced has detrimental affects on the environment, and habitats of the very animals that veganism is trying to save.
Polyester alone is petroleum based production, and impacts the environment in ways just as painful as using animal based products.
More often than not, creating vegan leather can use more gallons of water that traditional production of leather? - posing the question 'how can we produce materials that are not only animal and cruelty-free, but how can they also be environmentally-friendly?
Say hello to eco-friendly materials…
Beyond vegan fashion, eco-friendly fashion must take to the fore a combined approach.
This must include only using plant-based (and not animal-based) materials and beauty products, while also maintaining the environment and not impacting global warming, deforestation or pollution through water usage - this combination is absolutely necessary in order to improve the production of vegan materials.
?Eco-friendly materials are on the rise too, which bodes well for the industry and both the world and animals within it. That being said, this type of production is a luxury for bigger brands who can afford it.
The future for vegan fashion is positive, if it's eco-friendly. More needs to be done to support the industry and the brands sourcing and manufacturing materials.
This article was originally published on Medium