21 February 2022
It took them a while. And the process cannot be said to be complete yet, because it is still easy to come across enthusiastic articles about this initiative which is “green” only because it is “animal-free”. But the media has finally realized that vegan does not mean sustainable. That is, excluding leather (or wool, or silk) from the collections does not automatically mean making the environment a pleasure. We at La Conceria have been supporting it for a long time. Two articles, one by Vogue and one by South China Morning Post, explain the matter to the public.
Vegan does not mean sustainable
“Vegan is not necessarily synonymous with sustainable”. Ashley Gill (Textile Exchange) says it plainly to Vogue. Of course, some of her logical assumptions remain questionable. Gill, for example, continues to consider tanning also responsible for the environmental impact of animal husbandry, of which she is not a partner, but of which she collects and ennobles waste. But, at least, Gill makes it clear that years of vegan propaganda are based on a wrong syllogism, which is that applying a certain animalism to the fashion industry means it automatically being eco-friendly (and this is also explained by SCMP). Who thinks like this, underestimates (out of naivety or with malice, we add) that “what is defined vegan may have been made with virgin plastic, using highly toxic chemicals? And this is a really important thing that needs to be taken into account “.
The equation of sustainability
The two journalistic analyses remind us that, to evaluate the sustainability of a product or material, multiple values must be considered. Gaseous emissions, the chemical recipe book, the durability of the finished product and others. It is, therefore, impossible to have clear-cut and Manichean answers, as someone would like (especially in the veg area). “If you replace leather with plastic fabrics that come from oil – reiterates Sébastien Kopp, who has a pluralist approach to Veja’s material portfolio -, how can you claim to be greener? If you opt for plastic, you inevitably end up “drilling the soil and extracting the oil”. The conclusion reached by Nina Marenzi (The Sustainable Angle) can be defined as acceptable: if the fashion industry is committed to its environmental performance, the commitment must be holistic. Without exclusions, without ideological stakes. We will arrive “at a leather supply chain”, she says, ” sustainable in every segment, from processing to traceability, up to animal welfare”. Those who argue that fashion to be green must exclude leather, we conclude, does it for her interests, certainly not for the environment.