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Fashionable and fur-friendly

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 6th, 2006

In our chilly Canadian climate there is nothing better then slipping on a warm leather coat to head outside and face the frigid February weather. That's an inviting thought until you realize you are wearing the skin of a dead animal on your back.

Even if you enjoy eating meat, whether red, white or the other white meat, doesn't mean you have adorn your body, hands and feet with the remnants of the animals that have met their fate on your plate.

A new wave of vegetarian and vegan fashions is becoming increasingly popular amoungst the constantly changing fur and leather trends.

A Canadian company called Via Vegan has produced a line of handbags, shoes and accessories under the label Matt & Nat, which has been gaining popularity in North America and the UK.

The company was founded in Montreal by Inder Bedi, a Concordia University grad and strict vegetarian, in 1997 and took off when international entrepreneur Manny Kohli joined the cause.

Matt & Nat pride themselves on using high quality synthetic leathers and fabrics, which haven't been in contact, or even crossed paths, with the food chain. In fact, the company has won the PETA award for Best Cruelty-Free Handbag Collection.

The best part of all is that the handbags are not your typical tree-hugging, hemp-woven saddlebags usually associated with animal conscious attire.

All vegan references aside, the Matt & Nat collection is innovative, stylish, colourful, unique and affordable, with prices ranging from $7.50 for a change purse to $125 for a travel bag.

Many of you probably wear animal friendly attire and don't even know it. Converse popular Chuck Taylor's are deliberately made without the use of any animal products and New Balance also make a line of pro-vegan runners.

If you have money to burn and a couture attitude, you might want to consider investing in designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of legendary Beatle and animal activist Paul McCartney.

It has been reported that in Stella's contract with Gucci, in which she paired up with in 2001, strictly outlines that she will not work with fur or leather. Her romantic designs are proof that activism does not have to be unfashionable.

Stella also designed a vegan collection for Adidas footwear for Spring/Summer 2006 line of tennis footwear and apparel. The designs are not based on the premise of animal awareness. Instead, she focuses on the fashion, and as a bonus consumers have the satisfaction of knowing that animals were not harmed in the making of the products.

With chinchilla, mink and fox fur garnishing the shoulders of women on the red carpet this winter and fur-trimmed hoods all the rage on the slopes, remember there are flesh-free options on the market that will let you sleep easier at night.
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