We weren’t quite sure what to expect of Vegan Fashion Week – Edition 2. Headed up by founder Emmanuelle Rienda and run by a small and dedicated team, our communication in the lead-up to the event was somewhat limited. But we jumped at the chance to attend anyway, and promptly booked tickets to LA.

Here is our wrap of the various components: the awards night; the trade show; the conference; and the runway collection. The theme, ‘Fashion Is Activism’, set the tone much of the event.

Awards Night

We fronted up to the awards night at the Ace Theatre in LA’s downtown fashion district with some trepidation. Wearing Inika cosmetics and Sans Beast bags, we decided that when it came to what to wear, less was more. On arrival, we realised it was more a case of ‘anything goes’.

The crowd was lively and musician Moby and actor Mena Suvari were met with boisterous applause when handing out several of the awards. Winners in nine categories included singer-songwriter Kate Nash (who also performed on the night), photographer Parker Day and celebrity stylist Tara Swennen.

A definite highlight was the sneak preview of participating designers, in a runway show that took models off the stage and down into the audience.

Runway

The following Monday, the event got underway in earnest at the California Market Centre. It was a public holiday in LA and despite the size of the venue, the energy was buzzing.

The runway collection was the star of Vegan Fashion Week. Featuring several high-profile labels as well as a collection of emerging designers, it opened with New York clothing brand, ENDA. The group collective following featured brands such as Nicoline Hansen, Vegan Tiger, Mayd in Chyna and Wasted LA.

Overall the designs felt progressive – both in design and their use of materials. Everything from Piñatex, aluminium-can pull tabs, cork, latex and upcycled fabrics were on show.

Conference

The conference was made up of educational talks and panel discussions running across two days. The line-up was impressive: Caroline Love, associate producer on hit documentary The Game Changers; Mickey Suzuki, director of development, Nonhuman Rights Project; founders and designers Vicki von Holzhausen, Nicoline Hansen, Ran Enda and Nicole Blue (Wasted LA); Erin Fabris, sustainability manager UCLA; and many more.

Intelligent, thought-provoking topics were the go, covering topics such as key vegan trends; textile alternatives; social justice, activism through social media; climate change; and waste pollution.

Sustainability was a reoccurring theme, along with ethics. It became obvious that growing environmental concerns mean it’s no longer enough for a product or material to be cruelty-free and vegan. Consideration must be given to the environmental impact and ethical standards, while sustainability must also address the exploitation of humans and animals. It’s about acknowledging the inter connectivity of animals, environment and humanity.

Technology and the emergence of new materials and fast fashion was a also a hot topic. Questions were asked about how we lift the production of niche materials into the mainstream, and how we reach people who have not considered the impact of fast fashion.

Vegan Fashion Week

Trade Show

Around 40 vegan fashion and food brands participated in the trade show. Fashion brands included Mink Shoes, Blue District, von Holzhausen, Vegan Club, Lâcher Prise Apparel, Enda and Pawj.

A personal highlight (and nothing to do with fashion) was discovering Miyoko’s cheese. We came back heavier (in luggage and person!).

It was wonderful to see the quality of so many fantastic brands and speaking with them personally, we came away inspired by their passion and vision.

What’s Next?

Emmanuelle has big plans for Vegan Fashion Week and we’re already looking forward to Edition 3. There are no big bucks for Vegan Fashion Week as it’s actually a charity – so to show your support, please visit the website and consider donating.

Vegan Fashion Week

While in LA we stayed (and paid) at Level in DTLA and highly recommend it. They were great apartments with fantastic facilities – pool, gym, basketball court and outdoor entertaining areas and not to mention incredible service team. It’s like a home away from home, but with way more luxury! And Wholefoods is just a block away.

Images courtesy of Vilda Magazine (All photos by Morgan Ariana Coffey).