Vegan Fashion Movement, Los Angeles

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Published by Sugar & Cream, Tuesday 03 July 2018

Text by Lolo Santosa, founder of TOKO TOKO, images courtesy of respective photographer

Fashion and Vegan Fashion

In the morning of April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,134 garment workers finishing orders for brands in the US and Europe. This tragedy opened up the darkness that has been going on in the fashion industry. It unfolded stories of child labor, horrible treatments and payments to workers in the name of fast fashion. It also showed the negative immediate impact of fast fashion to our world’s environment.

@setareh.khatibi with Tulisan bag pic by Michael Benedict

Not long after, fashion brands began to see an increase of demand for not only sustainable and fairly traded products, but also cruelty-free. Powerhouses such as Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Versace, Donna Karan responded and announced that they are no longer using fur. Recently, Vogue Australia added vegan fashion and beauty as one of the top ten trends to invest in 2018.

The same movement is going strong in the West Coast of United States. In Los Angeles I attended Vegan Fashion and Art Show at the Roxy Theater to kick off Eat & Drink Vegan Festival. The fashion show featured carefully selected 25 brands, styled by Sica Schmitz and Jacky Wasserman. Los Angeles-Indonesian Toko-Toko was among one of the brands featured. Vegan influencers including Indonesian born vegan ballerina @artsyagnes walked the runway showing solidly chic Vegan fashion.

After the show I chatted with Sica, the Los Angeles ‘it’ girl of Fair Trade, Sustainable and Vegan fashion industry. She is the Founder of Bead & Reel an award-winning boutique, blog and community, a Fashion Editor of Vilda Magazine and the creator of the Fair Trade Fashion Show fundraiser.

What is Vegan Fashion and what made you decide to focus on Ethical Vegan fashion?
Sica: Vegan Fashion is fashion that doesn’t use animal products like leather, wool, silk, feathers, fur, or bone. Another way to look at it is that vegan fashion is all the other things we wear like cotton, hemp, linen, polyester, spandex, nylon and so many other easily accessible materials.
There are a lot of reasons that I choose to focus on vegan fashion from the high environmental impact of animal fibers to the (mis)treatment of animals, however, in all honesty, I just think animal fibers are simply not necessary, and not modern. We’ve evolved past needing them, and I think vegan fashion is more innovative, more exciting, more interesting, and more sustainable.

Left to right @jasonwrobel @rachelford @sicaschmitz @darbigwynn @marykolende at Vegan Fashion Show pic by Bryan Flores

You’re known as a fashion activist, what do you hope to achieve?
Sica: I think any career and any activity can have a component of activism, and fashion is such a huge industry both in terms of money, people, and impact, yet it often gets downplayed as frivolous or superficial. It’s not. It’s a really important avenue for change that we all participate in every single day when we get dressed.

The idea of ethical fashion is still relatively new, and so there is still a large need for education and information around it. With this in mind, I started my Fair Trade Fashion Show, an annual charity event in Los Angeles which is entering its 4th year, became the fashion editor for vegan publication Vilda Magazine, and last year was on the board of the non-profit Fair Trade LA.

@smasherbrown SeedFW Pic by Bryan Flores

My biggest goal is to help heal the world from the destruction we are doing to the earth and each other through an exploitive fashion industry, and I think there are a lot of ways to change minds, hearts, and closets, and fashion is the path I’ve chosen to follow in my attempt to create a kinder world.

Favorite Vegan Fashion brands and where can people learn more about Vegan Fashion?
Sica: There are so many great vegan fashion brands! I love Toko-Toko, Miakoda, Jill Milan, Groceries Apparel, Faircloth Supply, Devinto, Dauntless, Passion Lilie, and Bhava Shoes.
There are also a lot of great resources to discover vegan fashion like Vilda Magazine, EcoVoyage.co, and – if I may – my own weekly blog on Bead & Reel, plus social media accounts like @artsyagnes and @veganclothingshare which are great places to learn more about vegan fashion.

Sica Schmitz

Rug House