Sustainable & cruelty-free materials

There are many plant-based, sustainable, and renewable fabrics available, including hemp, cotton, bamboo, and linen. Designers such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, and Stella McCartney don’t use fur in their collections, and stores such as J.Crew, Gap Inc., Express, and Ann Taylor do not sell fur items.

There are many alternatives to leather, including cotton, linen, rubber, ramie, canvas, and synthetics. Chlorenol (called “Hydrolite” by Avia and “Durabuck” by Nike) is perforated for breathability and is used in athletic and hiking shoes. It stretches around the foot with the same “give” as leather, gives good support, and is machine-washable. Designers such as Liz Claiborne, Capezio, Sam & Libby, Steve Madden, and Nike offer an array of nonleather handbags, wallets, and shoes.

People with allergies to wool have been using cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, Tencel, synthetic shearling, and other cruelty-free fibers for years. Buy clothing from retailers, including H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Timberland, Perry Ellis, and Limited Brands, that have pledged not to sell Australian merino wool products until the worst abuse—mulesing (live flaying) and live exports—have ended.

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