Dedicated to elevating ethical fashion globally Vegan Fashion Week is produced and curated by French creative director and animal rights advocate, Emmanuelle Rienda. Vegan Fashion Week took place Feb 1st through 4th and paid tribute to the animals and an ode to the end of animal exploitation in all forms.
Vegan Fashion Week’s theme this year was “Facing Our Time” and it explored the challenges faced around ecological and climate change through the lenses of science, nature, and art. Vegan Fashion Week’s four-day launched with an exclusive opening soirée and tribute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Concurrent with the Los Angeles Night of Ideas, the Museum of Natural History activated its galleries, diorama halls, theater and public spaces throughout the museum. Guests experienced a first look at select pieces created by animal-free designers from around the world. These pieces would also be part of the main fashion show, which occurred inside the California Market Center’s Fashion Theater the following night.
More Vegan Fashion Week events throughout the weekend included a talk by climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Robert Lempert, a vegan fashion runway showcasing vegan designers, a vegan capsule of high-end designer pieces, and a timeline displaying the evolution of vegan fashion and the brands committed to embracing cruelty-free practices.
“It’s really amazing, and I believe that’s the message. We really try to be inclusive,” Rienda shared, on the occasion’s diverse audience. “We didn’t want to do a vegan [specific] event. We wanted to create a mainstream event where we showed people what is possible; we want them to know that we can have high-end products full of compassion and love for all species and all beings on this planet.”
Animal-free designers presented collections on the runways of Vegan Fashion Week
The inaugural fashion show began with a musical performance from Naomi Greene, a contemporary harpist and songstress, who performed a short set of songs. Soon after, models from Margaux the Agency, a boutique agency with a passion for the vegan lifestyle, began to walk down the runway. The line-up featured avant-garde designs featuring faux-leathers made from pineapple fibers and apple skins, as well as other items made with sustainable practices such as natural dyes and recycled materials. With a runway that showcased items ranging from eco-friendly capes and faux-fur coats to ball gowns, knitwear and accessories, Vegan Fashion Week exhibited the wide variety of animal-free clothing from its diverse group of designers.
As for the future of the event, Rienda has no plans of slowing down, expressing her intentions to make veganism part of the mainstream fashion industry and culture. “Vegan Fashion Week is going to exist until every fashion house decides this is the norm,” she said. “There is no room for cruelty or for ways of doing fashion that is polluting this planet.”
Rienda plans to continue using Vegan Fashion Week as a platform to help promote brands to a larger audience, but also as a way to raise awareness for animal rights. “We believe if we all come together, we have a greater impact,” she shared. “But, this is also activism, because we put people together that don’t have the same final product.” Rienda explained that the participating designers fall on a broad spectrum of vegan, with some being fully vegan while others are fully sustainable but have yet to produce fully vegan products.
However, according to Rienda, the primary goal with each of the brands is interaction and collaboration, with the result of redefining the concept of veganism. “What’s important is to put all these people together and [encourage] them to change technologies, innovations and to really come up with ideas to [create] the best way possible.”
During the day on February 2 and 3, designers and other exhibitors had the opportunity to chat with media, buyers and consumers about their brands, sharing the methods they use to create their products as well as how they started creating cruelty-free fashion, at the Vegan Lounge inside the California Market Center. Exhibitors in the lounge included clothing and accessories designers, skincare and beauty brands, along with vegan food companies and more. Attendees could also participate in panels that discussed the biggest issues regarding major issues in the fashion industry such as animal rights, social justice and more.
Rienda expressed her adoration for each of the designers participating in this year’s Vegan Fashion Week, highlighting the New York-based Japanese designer Ran Enda, who once held positions at major fashion labels including Ralph Lauren and Dianne von Furstenberg before starting her eponymous line, ENDA. “[Enda] was in a very comfortable position [at Ralph Lauren]. Because of her values, she decided to quit and start her own brand,” Rienda said, explaining how for most of the designers, veganism is a lifestyle that affected them to change how they approach the fashion industry. “That’s what I really love about these people—they’re designers, but they’re true. They’re honest and they’re not afraid to go against the masses with their products to show what’s best.”
According to the Rienda, the decision to launch in Los Angeles was a simple one. “[Los Angeles] is the largest city that has banned fur and animal testing, and most recently foie gras. I believe California is ready for the strong message and protecting the animals,” she said. “I also believe that Los Angeles could be the capital for high-end ethical fashion—I believe we could be the ethical avant-garde sector.”
The closing of Vegan Fashion Week will end with a private fundraiser today, on February 4, bringing together like-minded celebrities and influencers, ethical fashion enthusiasts, and environmentalists to support vegan designers with a vegan fashion award, and the tools to help emerging and established designers to create cruelty-free alternatives.
Rienda plans to take Vegan Fashion Week around the world, showcasing international designers dedicated to cruelty-free fashion.