Animal Friendly Winter Wear

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Coat: Nordstrom (similar) | Boots: Columbia (on sale!)

Winter is in full force here in the northeast, and with sub-below temperatures and bomb cyclones it’s definitely a challenge to keep warm when leaving the house. Winter typically gets pretty cold here with regular snowfall, and gear that protects you from the chill is mandatory. Unfortunately, a lot of the usual items people reach for to guard them from the elements are also made with animal products. Fur, wool, angora, cashmere, and down (goose feathers) are all commonly found either adorning or filling jackets, or woven into sweaters. We all know what fur is and the cruelty behind it; animals tormented with traps or being stuffed into cages, beaten or skinned alive. Canada Goose jackets often have hoods rimmed with coyote fur trim, for example. Angora comes from rabbits who face the same type of anguish, as well as geese and other fowl who are stripped of their feathers to stuff into coats (and also bed comforters).
A lot of people are confused or unsure about cashmere or wool. Isn’t that just a simple haircut for the goats and sheep? I could write an entire separate blog post about wool and why it is unethical, so please let me know if that is something anyone would be interested in. The Tree Kisser blog has a very informative post all about wool and why you should choose alternatives. Before humans intervened with breeding specifically for the production of wool, sheep would naturally almost “shed” their wool during certain stages, leaving no need for shearing. Now, for better profit, sheep produce an unnatural amount of wool, which does require to be sheared. Unfortunately, the practice of shearing in 99% of wool farms (which of a majority are located in Australia), is not exactly done delicately. Sheep are thrown and kicked, manhandled and sliced open because the goal is to get it done as fast and as "efficiently" as possible. Sheep can actually die of stress, and often do after experiencing this repeatedly, or they die of infection or sickness from getting what is called “flystrike” or just from their shearing wounds going untreated. Goats have a very similar experience, and both animals are discarded and slaughtered when they are deemed no longer useful. I haven’t touched on “mulesing”, but a Google search will show you more information on that horrific practice.
With all of these things considered, the biggest reason to ditch animal fabrics and materials is simply because they do not belong to us. Animals are not here for us to use and take from. It’s exploitative and unnecessary. There are endless substitutes that are compassionate and ecofriendly, as well as being fashionable and extremely well made! From high end luxury brands to more affordable companies, you can easily find anything you need to stay warm this winter. I’ve gathered some of my very favorite brands, as well as a few of my favorite items to share that I can’t recommend enough:

Vaute CoutureVaute is an ethical luxury brand that specializes in high quality items that are also sweatshop free. Good for the animals, humans, and the earth. Their coats are very expensive, but also a good investment since it will last you a very long time! 
Stella McCartney: Keeping the vein of luxury brands, no one tops Stella. If high-end is what you're looking for, you can easily find sweaters, boots, and jackets from her brand. All vegan and impeccably made.
Patagonia: Not only is this brand doing amazing things for the environment, their coats are amazing as well. I have this one for work in blue and it does wonders to keep me comfortable and warm! 

A few more brands that specialize in ethical winter coats are: Noize, HoodLamb, and Save the Duck. They have various price points, and often offer discounts or sales. Like I mentioned, a good winter coat is an investment and should last you years to come, so splurging a little is definitely worth it!
As far as boots go, it's very easy to find a pair of snow boots that will not only keep your feet warm and insulted, but also dry. The pair I am wearing in the photos I just purchased at the end of last year for work (walking dogs), but I have found myself wearing them anytime I leave the house. I am in love! My feet stay completely dry while trudging through snowbanks and I keep the feeling in all of my toes. For the Columbia boots, I recommend going a half size up, as they run a tiny bit small and it will give you extra room for some thick socks! Another brand that I love is Native, although the pair that I own is currently unavailable, they still have lots of other options! These Snug Boots from MooShoes are a great alternative to Uggs (gross), and if you don't mind spending a little extra cash, Sorel has some vegan options.
Whether it is a vegan brand or not, there are plenty of companies that at least offer selections that are animal friendly. Your best bet is to always check the item tags, descriptions, or even shoot the company an email just to clarify if you are unsure. You can easily keep warm, comfy, and fashionable this winter while respecting our animal friends and letting them keep their coats where they belong - on them! 

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