Gallery: 36 Eco-Fashion Predictions for 2016

CHRISTINA SEWELL (FASHION CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR, PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS)

From kicked, thrown, punched, and mutilated sheep across the wool industry's main three exporting countries to emaciated cows smuggled into Bangladesh and the children forced to help treat their skins with a toxic brew of chemicals for leather to alligators and crocodiles held in filthy and severely crowded concrete pits and slaughtered by workers who stab them and dislocate their vertebrae—often while the animals are still conscious—it was a significant year for PETA exposés of the gruesome world of animals used in the clothing industry.

This is why luxury fashion house Stella McCartney recently pledged to begin developing alternative vegan materials for use in place of wool in future collections, trendy retailers like Free People and Abercrombie & Fitch continue to increase their "vegan leather" offerings, and high-street brand James Perse has joined the more than 110 other top companies that have banned angora wool from their shelves.

As more and more businesses and world citizens alike begin to understand that there is simply no way to use animals humanely and sustainably to cut a profit, we are positioned to see further progressive leaps in the fashion sector in 2016.

Consider that the well-respected Los Angeles Times has reported that, according to the California Fashion Association, "vegan is a new phrase that has now become a catchword for entrepreneurs," and the Financial Review's fashion industry analysis this year asserts that "another reason more designers are forgoing animal products in their designs is the technology exists now to produce a much broader range of eco-friendly and ethically manufactured materials."

And they're absolutely right. With the countless ethical, vegan options to choose from today, including bamboo, Tencel, hemp, acrylic, viscose, and cotton blends, which can all be used in place of wool; handsome and durable materials like cork, microfiber made from recycled plastic bottles, and vegan Ultrasuede derived from post-industrial polyester, which can be used as a substitute for leather; and the cruelty-free and eco-conscious synthetic down offerings on the market, such as PrimaLoft, PolarGuard, Thinsulate, and Plumtech, there's simply no reason to spend our fashion dollars on cruelty to animals.

It helps that there are plenty of up-and-coming and established companies using innovative materials, such as Save the Duck and its Plumtech and Uniqlo and its Heattech, that are making waves with their chic vegan technologies, while millennial favorites such as Express, Patagonia, and The North Face are heavily promoting their animal-friendly options: Minus The (Express), Better Sweater (Patagonia), and ThermoBall (The North Face), as well.

This shift is unavoidable as businesses realize that the existing model of exploitation is broken and that it's too dangerous to risk falling behind the curve of social responsibility and innovation in this age of consumer consciousness.

All this means that vegan is the new standard in fashion.

ECO-FASHION ORACLES

1. Marie-Claire Daveu (Kering)

2. Simone Cipriani (Ethical Fashion Initiative)

3. Livia Firth (Eco-Age, Green Carpet Challenge)

4. Lewis Perkins (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute)

5. Amy Hall (Eileen Fisher)

6. Kathleen Talbot (Reformation)

7. Christina Sewell (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

8. Kirsten Brodde (Greenpeace)

9. Jason Kibbey (Sustainable Apparel Coalition)

10. Judy Gearhart (International Labor Rights Forum)

11. Orsola de Castro (Fashion Revolution, Estethica, From Somewhere, Reclaim to Wear)

12. Christina Dean (Redress)

13. Nicole Rycroft (Canopy)

14. Andrew Morgan (The True Cost)

15. Leah Borromeo (Dirty White Gold)

16. Sass Brown (Eco-Fashion Talk)

17. Anthony Lilore (Restore Clothing, Save the Garment Center)

18. Carmen Artigas

19. Shannon Whitehead (Factory45)

20. Deanna Clark (Fashion Institute of Technology)

21. Marci Zaroff (MetaWear, Portico Brands, Thread: Driving Fashion Forward)

22. Giusy Bettoni (C.L.A.S.S.)

23. John Patrick (Organic)

24. Safia Minney (People Tree)

25. Javier Goyeneche (Ecoalf)

26. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart (Vaute)

27. Francisca Pineda (Bhava, Ethical Fashion Academy)

28. Karen Stewart and Howard Brown (Stewart + Brown)

29. Rebecca Burgess (Fibershed)

30. Maxine Bédat (Zady)

31. Rachel Kibbe (Helpsy)

32. David Dietz (Modavanti)

33. Jill Heller (The Pure Thread)

34. Suzanne McKenzie (Able Made)

35. Bianca Alexander (Conscious Living TV)

36. Amy DuFault (Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator)

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