Vaute Couture: Vegan Winterwear

Goodlifer: Vaute Couture: Vegan Winterwear

Possibly the hardest item of clothing for devoted vegans to find is outerwear. We rarely think about the fact the most winter coats contain some form of animal product, be it leather, fur, or even wool. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, designer of Chicago-based “activist fashion label” Vaute Couture, spent eight months doing textile research and development in order to bring us the handsome, well-tailored line presented at The GreenShows during New York Fashion Week.

Vaute Couture’s coats range from sophisticated pea coats in dark colors to fun and colorful sporty jackets (made with alternative fiber Primaloft ECO and hand quilted locally in Chicago). The women’s coats are cute and feminine, with flattering silhouettes that make them highly wearable.

Skillful tailoring and unexpected details make these cruelty-free coats fun yet highly wearable. Left image by Nicole Lenzen.

Skillful tailoring and unexpected details make these cruelty-free coats fun yet highly wearable. Left image by Nicole Lenzen.

Sporty, body-conscious jackets are made with made with alternative eco-friendly fibers and hand quilted locally in Chicago.

Sporty, body-conscious jackets are made with made with alternative eco-friendly fibers and hand quilted locally in Chicago.

Most notably, Vaute Couture was one of the few lines at The GreenShows that sent menswear down the runway. Much of eco-conscious fashion today is geared toward women, but we should not forget the sustainably minded men out there, and Mai-ly Hilgart does not. The men’s coats are very elegant, not “crunchy granola” in the least, perfect for any stealth vegans perhaps hiding out there in Corporate America.

Stylish vegan winterwear for conscious men and women.

Stylish vegan winterwear for conscious men and women.

The fabric Mai-ly Hilgart settled on is a new advanced textured fabric from the Polartec® Brand lined with a Teijin® Eco Circle® Windproof Ripstop Satin (100% recycled closed loop) — all quite revolutionary new technologies judging by all the ®s. It is 100% vegan, designed for weather protection, comfortable and made in the U.S.

A fun soy-yarn knit sweater and elegant mens' pea coat.

A fun soy-yarn knit sweater and elegant mens’ pea coat.

Says Mai-ly Hilgart: “My fashion vision is about collaboration, grace, and versatility, with a requisite for comfort.” To keep us warm during cold winters (living in Chicago, she should know a thing or two about those), the inventive technological fabrics are designed for weather protection, are wind and water resistant, highly breathable, and retains body heat, while staying slim and flattering. The coats are finished with buttons made from either vintage, never-used dead stock metal from shut-down factories, or tagua nut, an organic renewable resource also known as “vegetable ivory.”

Soy-yarn knit accessories like hats, scarves and gloves paired with sustainably printed tanks. The color palette pairs mellow off-whites with poppy pinks and yellows, the effect is lively and colorful yet not over-the-top.

Soy-yarn knit accessories like hats, scarves and gloves paired with sustainably printed tanks. The color palette pairs mellow off-whites with poppy pinks and yellows, the effect is lively and colorful yet not over-the-top.

Vaute Couture also showed soy-yarn knits made from soybean farming waste, vegan belts made with Ultrasuede EcoDesign and vegan-leather gloves made from recycled fibers. Mai-ly Hilgart also makes fun (and mildly activist) statement Tees, with messages like “No animals are harmed in the making of this boy/girl” and “I heart all things with, um, a heart.” They are made, according to Fair Trade standards, from 100% Certified Organic Cotton printed with water-based inks and Phthalate-Free Plastisol in a sustainable printing facility.

Vaute Couture designer Mai-ly Hilgart.

Vaute Couture designer Mai-ly Hilgart.

Haute Couture (high fashion) with a V for Vegan is a way for us to say we are here to merge ethics and aesthetics. It’s said like “VOTE” because we believe that’s what a purchase is, really, as we all support business practices with our money and time.

Also check out this post-show interview with Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, by The Discerning Brute.

Photos (except where noted) by Johanna Björk. See more from The GreenShows here.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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