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First-Ever Vegan Fashion Week to Put Animal Welfare on the Runway

Los Angeles is poised to host what is being billed as the first-ever vegan Fashion Week.

Vegan Fashion Week—VFW for short—will make a starring turn from Feb. 1 to 4 in the City of Angels, which voted unanimously in September to ban the sale and manufacture of most fur products within its limits.  

With “Facing Our Time” as its inaugural theme, VFW will kick off with an industry-only “opening soirée and tribute” at the National History Museum of Los Angeles, which will “activate its galleries, diorama halls, theater and public spaces throughout the museum, inside and out,” feature a talk by climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Robert Lempert and fete a vegan fashion show.

The festivities will continue on Feb. 2 and 3 at the California Market Center on 9th St., where a vegan runway fashion show will take center stage. (The lineup will be formally announced on Jan. 21.) Guests, the VFW website promises, will also have the opportunity to experience a “curated selection” of cruelty-free designer pieces, along with a vegan lounge offering animal-friendly fashion, beauty and food from brands such as Enda, Mink Shoes, Pact, Jeane & Jax and Svala.

“Businesses and organizations will have the opportunity to connect with conscious and like-minded individuals through activations, experiential exhibitions and a conference featuring intellectual panels discussing the most critical issues in the fashion industry and the existing alternatives,” VFW noted. “Themes that will be explored include: animal rights, social justice, circularity, technology and intersectionality.

The final day has been reserved for a private, invitation only fundraiser.

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The brainchild of stylist and animal-rights activist Emmanuelle Rienda, VFW is both  a “tribute to the animals and an ode to the end of animal exploitation in all forms” and a place where fashion meets activism “with a conscious twist.” Eventually, Rienda says she wants to make cruelty-free fashion weeks the standard for an industry that has come repeatedly under fire from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals for inhumane practices. 

Sheer wishful thinking? Maybe not. This past fall saw London Fashion Week become the first of the major fashion weeks to go fur-free because none of the designers participating in the official schedule said they planned to use it. Over in Finland, Helsinki Fashion Week opted to ban animal-based leather, citing it desire to take an “active stand against cruelty to animals and the damaging environmental impacts that the use of animal leather brings with it.”

Veganism, as it relates to clothing, appears to be catching on, too. In its 2018 year-end report, Lyst, a fashion search engine, documented a 47 percent spike in keywords and phrases related to sustainability, including “vegan leather.”