"VFW": the new face of vegan fashion?

30 January 2019 | Posted by Zackary

When talking about “fashion capitals”, one necessarily thinks of the Big Four: New York, London, Milan and Paris, whose collections bring thousands of fans to the brink of syncope every season.

Yet, several cities are also trying to launch their fashion week, with varying degrees of success. The Tokyo one is a real experimental laboratory, delighting lovers of bold designs. Dubai is a reference in modest clothing, while Lagosallows Africa to be part of the creative landscape.

Despite all its efforts, including a presentation of Escada last year, Los Angeles has never really managed to establish itself as an epicenter. In other words, its shows don’t interest many people — a bit like with rap, long live the East Coast. That being said, the situation could as well change… From February 01 to 04, the City of Angels will host the Vegan Fashion Week (VFW), a world and historical first in the world of catwalks.

Not being well-known enough yet, the organization didn’t found it useful to invite me — share this article, and I may receive a card next year. In the meantime, let’s look at what this edition has in store for us…

A fashion week unlike any other

Vegan fashion goes beyond the simple exclusion of leather and fur, it is opposed to any animal exploitation. Farewell wool, cashmere, angora, camel or alpaca. So long feathers, down. Bye bye silk…. In short, while the commitment can be applauded, one must recognize that the amount of synthetic materials it involves is not always very exciting.

This is what the VFW intends to change, wishing to promote the “avant-garde of vegan fashion”. Behind this project, Emmanuelle Rienda, a French expatriate in the United States who wants to convince us that “it is no longer a matter of style, but of choice”. Unlike the usual fashion weeks, this one is actually open to all those who will buy a ticket. It will be a rather global experience, with conferences and exhibitions in addition to shows, presentations and pop-up stores. The vegan food that will be available there confirm the lifestyle dimension of the event, thus going beyond the framework of fashion strictly speaking.

As a bonus, the grand opening will be marked by a speech from Robert Lempert, climate expert and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2007. This is all the more surprising when you consider that vegan clothing is not necessarily environmentally friendly — fake fur is still processed oil, for example. So will we be talking about materials that are both eco-responsible and cruelty free? To be continued…

The VFW has received official support from PETA, which is sponsoring the event.

Towards another vegan fashion?

The choice of date is not insignificant, since it is right between haute-couture in Paris and the beginning of the women Fall/Winter 2020 season in New York. By positioning itself in the middle of two mastodons of the fashion calendar, the VFW legitimizes itself and takes advantage of the general effervescence. It also has a good reason to be held in Los Angeles: last September, the city prohibited the production and sale of fur goods. This decision comes at a time when the list of major houses deciding to ban it is constantly growing: GucciChanelVersace and, more recently, Jean-Paul Gaultier. In other words, the industry seems to be increasingly supportive of these changes; it does not ultimately matter whether they are motivated by deep convictions or excellent marketing.

Then, we have only one desire: to know the creators present at the VFW and take a look at their collections. While the organization was supposed to reveal the list on January 21, since January 22, it has finally decided to keep it secret. Only participants will know it the day before the event. It is difficult to say if this back-pedaling is more a matter of communication than a desire to buy time to find more — better? — partners.

However, if the VFW does succeed in keeping its promises, it could definitely change the face of vegan fashion. In addition to highlighting creators who are often confidential, and contributing to the discovery of a lifestyle in its own right, it would demonstrate that trends and love of animals are not necessarily incompatible. So, will it be able to prove that sustainable alternatives exist? •

Hugh Hefner's and Donatella Versace's love child, I am the visible half of the duo behind ZACKARIUM. Addicted to fashion and to Lucky Strike, my mission is to guide you smoothly through the jungle of brands and catwalks.

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