The Economist predicted 2019 to be the ‘Year of the Vegan’, and it’s certainly started with a bang. Veganuary (which has been a thing since 2014), has been encouraging people to stick to a plant-based diet for January, this year saw a record of 250k pledges!
While this movement primarily affects the food industry, it’s becoming important for fashion retailers to also cater to this market.
Vegans are looking to incorporate this lifestyle into their wardrobes and are shopping for alternatives to leathers, wool, and skins.
The US, UK, and Germany are the major markets investing in vegan products. By the end of January, we saw a significant 75% increase in products described as ‘vegan’ in the UK YoY. In the US, this grew by 11%, yet as you can see in the graph below, they have a significantly larger assortment to the other markets. According to Mintel research, Germany is the global leader in vegan food and drink product and development. This market experienced an impressive 131% increase in their vegan product YoY.
Other vegan-friendly regions to keep on your radar include France and Denmark.
Paris is poised to become the sustainable capital of fashion by 2024. The “Paris Good Fashion” initiative is an open community for industry professionals to champion eco-conscious practices. We have already noted a 12% increase in France’s vegan products YoY. With Paris focused on innovations for sustainable materials and sourcing, we can expect to see their investment in vegan products thrive over the next five years.
Denmark is home to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world’s leading business event on sustainability in fashion. In their 2019 CEO Agenda, they encouraged fashion retailers to push for industry standards for animal welfare and continue to research alternative solutions to fabrics. In the Danish market, we tracked a whopping 320% increase in products described as ‘vegan’.
Beauty dominates but footwear is growing
Under the ongoing consumer demand for cruelty-free products in the beauty industry, beauty vegan products arriving between December 2018 and January 2019, surmount all other categories. Of vegan products new-to-market, the beauty sector makes up 82% in the UK, 40% in the US and 62% in Germany.
We are seeing a considerable shift in vegan-friendly shoes in the US market. A year ago, footwear only made up 16% of
UK footwear and accessories have seen slight growth from a combined 15% in 2018 to 16% in 2019 of the total assortment. This shows an apparent gap in the market for retailers to test the water with alternative fabrications.
For Spring, Marks & Spencer launched an animal-free footwear collection. The collection consisted of over 200 styles catering for men, women, and kids. Despite being honored with PETA’s first ever “Vegan-Friendly High-Street Retailer” award, Marks & Spencer were quiet about their animal-free footwear line.
While Office (UK) and Free People (US) both promoted vegan shoes, Veganuary promotions remained minimal and primarily related to food. This leaves open an opportunity for retailers to push communications – time to snatch the attention of those 250k vegan pledges!
What’s luxury’s role in all this?
After years of campaigning, we’re seeing a rise in luxury brands deleting fur and exotic skins from their collections.
Designers such as Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Versace and, most recently, Victoria Beckham have vowed to keep their catwalks fur-free. This cohort sets an example for the rest of the industry to follow and operate on developing materials with a low environmental impact. We are already seeing a 41% decline of women’s fur arrivals for January YoY in the UK luxury market.
Stella McCartney, Nanushka and Dr Martens already operate in this space.
While great strides have been made on eliminating fur, there is still a long way to go. PETA has now turned their attention on banning the use of wool, even campaigning the Dorset Village of Wool to change their name to “Vegan Wool”. For PETA-approved vegan fashion brands, check out the list here.
Despite the consistent growth, there’s still a need for retailers to find vegan alternatives in garments – particularly with wools. Need more convincing? Vegan alternatives allow you to buy into animal print trends while keeping your costs down. All the while you are getting eco-friendly brownie points!
Research and data insights by Kayla Marci, Market Analyst.
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