Q. How do you think the demand for animal-free fashion has changed over the past decade?
A. Vegan fashion is becoming more and more fashionable! The hope is for vegan fashion to become the norm, to go mainstream and not needing a “vegan” qualifier to be used.
It’s consumers that are changing the face of the industry by demanding that designers and retailers ditch animal-derived materials in favour of cruelty-free alternatives that look great without causing suffering.
In most recent years there has been a rise in demand for trend-led vegan clothing, as many items seemingly animal-product free contain small parts of animals such as leather labels, for example on jeans, or angora wool in jumpers, rendering them undesirable to the young vegan consumer.
This is having an impact on designers and retailers, who are starting to ditch certain animal products from their offerings. We’ve seen luxury brands catching on with the vegan lifestyle and customers demand, and steering away from fur and leather, going fully or partly vegan!
Q. What kind of customer do you see purchasing your vegan leather products?
A. According to a survey by the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in Britain has risen by 350 percent and with over 500,000 people in the UK now identifying as vegan. The Number of vegetarian and fast fashion conscious population is on the rise too.
Vegan fashion customers are predominantly a younger generation, age 18- 35 years old, conscious shoppers as well as animal and cruelty-free fashion lovers.
FERRON’s customers, for example, are females, young professionals, 28 - 34 years old, independent- minded, fashion icons and environmental conscious. They are potentially vegan, they live in the city, they are youthful and sophisticated. FERRON’s customers are culturally diverse, existing across the political, economic, and social spectrum. They are unique, with firm morals and guided by a clear conscience. They are activists, caring friends and a businesswomen that make decisions carefully, weighing the impact of their actions for themselves as well as the world around her.
Q. How necessary is it for retailers to cater for a vegan customer in the current market?
A. Global handbags market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% during the forecast period (2019 - 2024). The report states that the market will be increasingly influenced by the growth of veganism, and that many manufacturers already have vegan designs in their product ranges. The vegan leather market is set to be worth $85 billion globally by 2025, according to a report by business consultancy Grand View Research (GVR).
The above are figures for the handbag industry only, but those are on the rise across the fashion industry.. The retailers that want to stay afloat must adapt quickly to ever rising customer demand. The future of luxury is not leather, this is our motto :)
Q. How do you think the use of animal products in the fashion industry will change in the future?
A. Oh , it is changing as I type! It is not only ethical reasons but also environmental benefits that encourage vegan fashion and lifestyle! The livestock required to produce meat, dairy—and leather—takes up the majority of the world’s farmland, it is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined, and ultimately contributes to climate change. It also takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean factory farms, and give animals water to drink. With the use of social media, more and more activists are finding places to increase the reach of their messages and mission to remove animal cruelty worldwide, which has led to an increase in vegan activists, veganism globally and a need for fashion brands to take notice and improve their product lines as a result.
Q. How do you think the use of vegan-alternatives such as faux leather will change in the future?
A. As the fashion world develops, so too does the scope for more and more vegan alternatives. The leather alternatives do not just look good, they are also better for the environment! And yes, I wish I could say that synthetic alternatives are already perfect and come with no environmental concerns. While this is not the case yet, new technologies will soon provide plant-based leather alternatives that are 100% biodegradable. Until that is possible, I want to demystify the environmental impact of synthetic alternatives and compare it to leather made from animal skins.
There’s this common argument that leather is better for the environment because it is “natural,” while its synthetic alternatives are made with polyester or acrylic. What some forget to remember is that an animal leather decomposes when it’s natural, but after all of the chemical treatments applied to a leather product, it isn’t going to decompose in their wardrobe, or when they are done using it!
More brands continue to delve into a vegan based product line, expect to see a far less harsh impact on the environment, stronger animal welfare and vegan fashion accessories and garments which have developed to look just as good, if not better than the animal alternative.
Q. What is the mission behind FERRON?
A. I believe that my product adds value to this world, is aligned with my values and comes with a strong mission! I love animals, and I don’t agree with having them used for our own advantage, whether it’s fashion, cosmetics, food or entertainment! I wanted to join the team of change makers and push the boundaries of the fashion industry, to make vegan luxury pieces more affordable and accessible for customers, to prove that vegan fashion is indeed fashionable!
FERRON is my outlet that allows me to be creative, to talk about things that are important to me- love for animals, contribute to reducing the gap between vegan fashion lovers and luxury items, helping others, especially women entrepreneurs!
Q. Are there plans to release other designs? Do you have any plans to make a larger bag at some point?
A. At this present time we only have one design, available in 3 colours. The bag is very unique, at the same time versatile and timeless. And as much as I am very proud of the bags, my intention is to move forward introducing more and equally unique designs. There are some ideas in my head, however, I’m unable to confirm ETA for a new arrival.
At the moment, I’m focusing on spreading awareness about FERRON, getting the name “out there” and winning the trust amongst conscious fashionistas. The goal is to turn FERRON into a mainstream brand.
Q. Would you rather use a) recycled scrap cow leather bonded with natural rubbers pressed and made to feel like a real leather or b) recycled polyester made to feel like suede?
A. The answer is easy- b. I opted in for creation of vegan products because I don’t wish to support or be a part of animal cruelty. I don’t want to take part in creating demand for more leather, even if that’s animal derived scraps. Just to be totally transparent here, as I always am, I still own clothes, shoes and accessories that are made of leather, because it would have been criminally wasteful of me to oust them when I made the leap to going cruelty-free. So, yes, I still wear a few pieces made from animal products, most of which were inherited, gifted or bought second hand.
Q. How do you respond to people who don’t believe PU is vegan due to its petroleum base?
A. I understand that some say that using “vegan leather” qualifiers for the products made of PU is greenwashing. My vegan mindset means doing our best to do the least harm possible to all living beings. I’m open to looking into transitioning to recycled or other ethical material if it is beautiful and would allow my team to make nice products out of. As soon as natural leather alternatives don’t require us to compromise on quality and longevity, we will probably be using it.
What seems to be quite confusing to all fashion lovers and customers at this stage is that those materials are still being developed, tested and piloted and not available to every brand to purchase. One of the latest vegan leather trends- Piñatex, though plant-based and pretty sustainable in itself, as an end product has petroleum- based coating added, hence it’s actually not biodegradable. And it’s not as easy to work with. Besides, it is not as strong and I don’t quite like the look of it. It’s just not a material for my brand.
Similarly, an apple leather, despite the lovely name, still has approx 50% PU in it.