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Fashion brands urged to ‘tread carefully’ over veganism claims

Brands and retailers have been warned to tread carefully when embracing the growing veganism trend. 

“Veganism is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many people, with the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupling between 2014 and 2019, according to The Vegan Society,” says Beth Wright, apparel correspondent at GlobalData. “With this rise comes a likely surge in demand for vegan-friendly clothing and footwear.”

Wright says it should come as no surprise that apparel and footwear companies want to be seen to be embracing veganism. But she warns that there are many issues brands and retailers must consider before declaring products free from animal-derived materials or ingredients. 

“While there are a great many gains to be made from entering the vegan fashion market, industry players must do their homework and identify the risks before joining the fray.”

Sourcing vegan fashion products goes further than simply bypassing wool, leather and natural silk as raw materials, says Wright. Retailers must also take care to guard against the use of a number of dyes, glues and chemicals that are derived from animals.

To help address and tackle these complexities, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has created new guidelines to help retailers and brands source vegan fashion products, setting out steps and questions to ask both internally and of suppliers. The ‘Voluntary Guideline on Veganism in Fashion’ sets out a sequence of steps brands and retailers should take to verify their raw material ingredients.

It aligns with previous advice from testing, inspection and certification specialist SGS Softlines Services, which notes the materials used in the production of vegan products must be robust and maintain the qualities of the animal-based materials they are replacing.

Among the companies that have launched vegan products are Topshop, Asos and New Look, which last summer became the first high-street fashion retailer to register ranges with The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark.

“Fashion brands and retailers must heed the advice from industry bodies such as the BRC in sourcing vegan products and do their due diligence,” says Wright. 

“Building a relationship between internal sourcing and buying teams and suppliers is key in not only instilling confidence along the supply chain but among consumers too.”

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