FRIEND OR FAUX?

IF YOU’RE LOOK­ING FOR A CRU­ELTY-FREE BAG, DON’T SET­TLE FOR A HEMP TOTE – MORE LA­BELS ARE OF­FER­ING VE­GAN FASH­ION OP­TIONS AS THE DE­MAND FOR ETH­I­CAL PRAC­TICES IN­CREASES

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE / CLOSET - WORDS: AM­BER MACPHER­SON

Choos­ing a cru­elty-free life­style doesn’t end at the din­ner table. As new gen­er­a­tions move to­wards more eth­i­cal life­style choices, fash­ion fol­low­ers have a beef to set­tle with brands sell­ing an­i­mal by-prod­ucts. La­bels are now re­plac­ing leather with ve­gan ma­te­ri­als for bags and ac­ces­sories, and no, we’re not talk­ing a hes­sian hemp tote – we’re talk­ing stylish, strong and durable fab­rics that look and feel like the real deal. Mel­bourne pro­ducer Sans Beast is one la­bel sell­ing a va­ri­ety of cru­elty-free prod­ucts, of­fer­ing wal­lets, hand­bags, back­packs and more in sleek de­signs and colours. Founder Cathryn Wills was the cre­ative di­rec­tor at Mimco be­fore start­ing her own la­bel that aligned with her veg­e­tar­ian life­style. She says global con­nec­tiv­ity has in­creased peo­ple’s aware­ness of an­i­mal wel­fare, re­sult­ing in a higher de­mand for eth­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts. “As peo­ple be­come more mind­ful of the en­vi­ron­ment – rais­ing an­i­mals en masse is a bur­den on the Earth – com­bined with the recog­ni­tion that cru­elty is ev­i­dent in the sup­ply chain, I be­lieve they are wak­ing up and look­ing for al­ter­na­tives,” Cathryn says. “Find­ing ve­gan fash­ion is be­com­ing eas­ier and eas­ier. “Well Made Clothes is a won­der­ful site for eth­i­cal brands. This move­ment will only get stronger – it’s not a pass­ing trend.” Sans Beast uses sus­tain­ably-sourced polyurethane fab­ric in its col­lec­tions. Cathryn says it’s more durable and ver­sa­tile than leather. “We source polyurethane from a qual­ity sup­plier in south­ern China that en­sures the chem­i­cals it uses to make the coloura­tion on the sur­face ad­here to strin­gent in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and are not at dan­ger­ous lev­els for hu­man con­tact,” Cathryn says. “We like to be trans­par­ent about that fact that we use PU, and that it is es­sen­tially a painted fab­ric, em­u­lat­ing a leather sur­face, yet not us­ing an­i­mals as the build­ing blocks. “Get­ting PU wet is not an is­sue – it wipes clean and dries very eas­ily. Gen­er­ally it with­stands scrapes and scratches more read­ily than leather, and is not prone to colour fade from sun­shine. “The most im­por­tant trait, how­ever, when con­sid­er­ing (choos­ing be­tween) PU or leather is to con­sider the life of the an­i­mal be­fore it’s be­come your hand­bag, shoe, or leather jacket.” Cathryn be­lieves her cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate the trans­parency of Sans Beast’s busi­ness prac­tices. “I be­lieve our cus­tomers have liked the hon­esty and authen­tic­ity that res­onates within our In­sta­gram and web­site,” she says. “The feed­back we’ve had is that the col­lec­tions are stylish, qual­ity and fash­ion­able. “While the use of non-an­i­mal ma­te­ri­als is cen­tral to our ethos, I cer­tainly aim for peo­ple to love wear­ing our bags. There just hap­pens to be an added bonus of know­ing they’re not killing a beast for the plea­sure of fash­ion.”

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