Vegan fabrics replace leather, suede and silk at a more affordable price

The winter weather lends itself to richer fabrics like leather and suede. These pieces can often cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars and for some of us we even want a wardrobe option that's cruelty-free.

At one time, Stella McCartney was the one designer making vegan pieces and they were very high end. But now, vegan fashion materials not derived from animals, such as leather, fur, silk, and suede, is accessible to us at a much lower price point.

Fashion Designer Lauren Battistini recently decided to create an entire line out of vegan fabrics.

"I found that the vegan textiles when I was in school, they were easier to work with than the genuine leathers or suedes, and I like the way they sew, look, and feel, and obviously, much more friendly on the environment and free of cruelty for the animals," explains Battistini.

You don't traditionally see a wrap dress in leather or faux leather, but Battistini was able to create a comfortable piece with a polyurethane material.

"A lot of the vegan faux leathers are workable and malleable than traditional leathers," she adds.

Battistini paired the dress with an eco-suede handbag. She said this is a vegan material must.

"Eco-suede is interesting because it melds the worlds of vegan fashion with sustainability and environmental concerns. This is made of polyester and plastic bottles," says Battistini.

Another faux leather piece Battistini loves is a red blouse.

"I've taken a material which is vegan leather, perforated, very high-end that's usually used for handbags and outerwear, but because it's so malleable, I was able to use it and make it into a blouse with this billowy sleeve," she says.

To go along with the look, she added a Hipsters for Sisters crossover bag made of pinatex.

"Pinatex is a sustainable leather alternative made of pineapple leaves, which of course is a byproduct of the pineapple industry," explains Battistini.

Instead of using regular silk, Battistini says to try silk alternatives like soy silk, peace silk, or satin blends.

"Silk alternatives of yesteryear and the cheap polyesters - those were not breathable at all, but these newly formulated faux silk fabrics are very wearable and very breathable," she adds.

"This is paired with my favorite faux leather pencil skirt and I think every pencil skirt should have pockets for a woman to carry her lip gloss or a phone or to carry a credit card," says Battistini.

Finally, a gray, faux suede dress that's easier to embellish with metallic rivet details because the material is thinner than traditional suede.

"This faux suede also has a little bit of spandex in it, so whenever you can add stretchability to a garment, it makes it easier for fit," adds Battistini.

She says there are lots of faux fabrics on the market and the quality can range from low to high end, so you have to really examine the fabric.

"The other way to tell if it's high quality, smell it. If it has an odor to it, it probably has been too chemically treated," says Battistini.

When it comes to faux leathers, Battistini says PVC isn't as flexible or environmentally friendly as polyurethane, so keep that in mind when shopping.

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