Cruelty Free Fashion: 4 Brands to Try

Animal Welfare

If you’re looking to reduce your impact on the environment and animals, one of the best ways to do so is to switch to cruelty free fashion. Many of fashion’s trends and staples involve the exploitation of animals in some form, which is why switching to cruelty free fashion can seem a little confusing for those who aren’t used to looking up the practices behind the materials.
However, as with any things done for the environment, switching to cruelty free fashion becomes a matter of habit as soon as you learn the basics and find cruelty free fashion brands that work for you.

Cruelty free Fashion vs. Vegan Fashion

First, let’s discuss cruelty free fashion in relation to vegan fashion. Are the two the same, or how do they relate to one another?
The two usually do go hand in hand – but not always. By definition, cruelty free fashion refers to garments made without any harm done to the animals, while vegan fashion encompasses clothing that doesn’t contain any animal-based materials. Therefore, the difference lies in clothing produced from animal-based materials but without any cruelty involved
One common spot where the two may diverge is recycled materials. Recycled wool, for example, would be considered cruelty-free, as no animals were harmed to produce it – only old clothing that would otherwise be discarded. However, even despite that, recycled wool still isn’t vegan by definition.
Some production methods which still involve the use of animals can also still be labeled as cruelty-free. However, this topic is a little more complex, as there are no legal requirements for products labelled as cruelty-free to fulfill. This means that often, the meaning of cruelty free largely depends on the values and views of each individual, making the topic quite controversial.

Cruelty Free Fashion: Materials

Different kinds of fabric
As is clear from the definition, most animal-based materials aren’t considered cruelty-free – let us quickly summarise each of them and the instances in which they might be considered cruelty-free by some.


This is one of the most straightforward materials – it is never considered cruelty-free and has now also been sworn-off by most non-vegans. The animals farmed for fur are killed exclusively for that purpose, which makes fur not just incredibly cruel, but also very unsustainable.
With all the alternatives to fur, both when it comes to style and functionality, this is one of the easiest materials to give up when going cruelty free.


Leather is also most often indisputably excluded from a cruelty free fashion enthusiast’s wardrobe. While leather is often a co-product of the meat industry, it’s not a by-product. It’s a very profitable asset which keeps the industry going.
Many leather alternatives, however, are completely cruelty free, as they’re made from plant-derived or synthetic materials. These include polyurethane, PVC, paper vellum, recycled rubber, recycled PET, Pinatex, Cork leather and others.

Silk & Wool

Both silk and wool are two materials that get a little more complicated when it comes to debating what’s cruelty free and what’s not – as it doesn’t involve the killing of animals to harvest the material. In this debate, it’s important to remember that just because it doesn’t involve the killing of animals doesn’t mean it’s not cruel.
Both silk and wool are obtained through some very cruel practices. Even though some brands selling what is labeled as ‘cruelty free wool’ or ‘cruelty free silk’ eliminate some cruel practices from the process, it’s near impossible to remove all of them. Whether you consider these alternatives cruelty free is then left up to you, as there’s no set definition of cruelty free.

4 Cruelty Free Fashion Brands

Cruelty free fashion is expanding at a rapid pace and an increasing number of brands is adapting their practices. Here are a few of our favorite brands which are exclusively cruelty-free!

1. Organic Basics

Cruelty Free Fashion: Organic Basics
Image source from Organic Basics’s website
This is an example of a brand that’s free from cruelty, but still uses recycled animal-based materials. They are a perfect brand for high-quality staples for your wardrobe, to build many different outfits with.

2. Gunas New York

If you’re looking for a cruelty-free leather handbag or backpack, Gunas New York is one of the many brands creating vegan accessories that feel and look just like leather – without any of the cruelty.

3. Wills Vegan Shoes

Similarly to how Gunas New York crafts high-quality cruelty-free handbags, Wills Vegan Store is a perfect starting point for anyone looking to buy their next pair of leather shoes cruelty-free. The brand even uses a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic leather made from cereal crops!

4. Stella McCartney

Cruelty Free Fashion: Stella McCarthy's website
Image source from Stella McCarthy’s Website
Stella McCartney is a revolutionary amongst fashion designers, with collections that are good for the environment and good for animals. For example, she launched a line of cruelty free vegan silk recently!

Let’s Shop!

Now that we know about cruelty free fashion, I think the next time we go online shopping we know where to start. Cruelty free fashion can you bring your animal loving lifestyle to another level. In addition, many of these cruelty free fashion brands are doing more than being ethical to the animal, but making a difference for the environment too.
However, it is important to remember that at Ethical Choice, while we promote ethical, cruelty free fashion and products, it is important to be ethical consumer. Don’t go out spending unnecessary money!

Now if you want to know more about cruelty free, here are two great articles for you.
First, understand the cruelty free movement. Then take a look at the real definition of cruelty free.

Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!