As younger consumers become more conscious of the impact their shopping choices have on the environment, sustainability and ethically sourced materials, like 100% vegan products, are becoming even bigger staples in fashion.
A 2017 report published by business consulting firm Grand View Research Inc.projected that the global synthetic-leather market would reach $80.05 billion by 2025, and brands have taken notice. H&M launched a collection with items made from pineapple leather in April, while Adidas partnered with Stella McCartney in September to launch vegan Stan Smith sneakers. Some are taking things a step further, either launching new brands that are completely vegan or transforming an existing brand into one that only features 100% vegan products.
On Monday, Aldo Group-owned shoe brand Call It Spring announced that, from now on, all of its footwear, handbags and accessories will be 100% vegan. For Call It Spring, that only required the brand to focus on 10% of its products, as 90% of items were already made without any animal materials or derivatives, including animal skins, feathers, fur, hair, wool fibers, shells, real silk and animal-based adhesives. However, that small 10% actually required a lot of planning, said Alyssa Whited, global marketing director of Call It Spring.
“The first step was to conduct a thorough assessment of materials and formulations in all of our products — everything from fabrics to insoles, finishes and adhesives. We identified what needed to be replaced and developed a vegan policy that outlined what was no longer permitted in our products,” said Whited. “We began a year ago with the idea of rolling out a few vegan products, but once the process began, we realized the capacity to which we could champion vegan fashion.” Whited declined to share what costs were involved in the change. For this shift to fully vegan, the brand continued working with its existing partners and suppliers.
To promote the changes, Call It Spring will rely on social media, PR and a little digital advertising.
Call It Spring’s parent company, Aldo Group, has a number of sustainability practices in place, including goals to use less harmful chemicals and more sustainable materials across its brands by 2021. But it makes sense that the group would focus on pivoting a brand that already had experience in the vegan space and has a smaller footprint in the overall portfolio. Call It Spring currently has around 500 points of sale globally, out of Aldo Group’s 3,000-plus retail locations worldwide.
“It’s definitely easier if you start from scratch, and that’s your platform and reason to be. It’s harder if you want to catch up and you’re supporting a huge-volume business that’s global,” said Tina Bhojwani, co-founder of Aera, a luxury shoe line launching today that is both sustainable and vegan.
Bhojwani, who is the former president and CEO of Dolce & Gabbana North America, and her two co-founders, entrepreneur Alvertos Revach and footwear designer Jean-Michel Cazabat, have been developing the idea for a luxury, direct-to-consumer shoe brand that is both vegan and sustainable for more than a year now.
“It is certainly challenging, I won’t lie to you. But it’s definitely possible,” said Bhojwani. “We conducted a life-cycle assessment, measuring the impact our shoes have on the environment.” In doing so, Aera determined the global warming potential, the amount of ozone that is depleted, and the amount of water and energy used by making just one pair of shoes.
While Aera has both the sustainable and vegan aspects of the business down, Call It Spring admits it still has work to do on the sustainability front.
“Vegan fashion does not always equal sustainable fashion, and as a company with deep roots in responsibility, we are constantly working to improve our sustainability,” said Whited.