Cruelty-free Does Not Always Equate to Sustainable: Info To Help Make A Difference

Cruelty-free Does Not Always Equate to Sustainable: Info To Help Make A Difference

Here at James&Co we are constantly reinforcing with readers, viewers, browsers (the human ones!) the critical difference between our brand of leather look outerwear and that of other brands.  

uniqueness of James&Co

We belatedly read a blog that purported to rate the top 10 vegan clothing brands of 2019. The premise of the article was correct and calling out that 'the goal should be to establish a 100% cruelty clothing as the new standard' is totally supportable. 

The collection of brands made interesting reading. Quite an eclectic and global range of brands making great differences in the fashion industry. Sadly, James&Co did not feature - but we're working harder on getting into the trending brands!

The assessments covered both the type of fabrics used by the brands with a focus on the new and emerging plant-based fabrics and the manufacturing process - both from the perspective of it's environmental impact and the labor standards/working conditions.

What jumped out at us was the assessment of well-known vegan handbag brand Matt & Nat

'All of the materials are 100%vegan, very eco friendly and Mat & Nat is constantly working on new fabrics they can use. Currently they focus a lot on new materials like recycled plastic alternatives, rubber and cork. The working conditions for their employees are by the SA8000 standard which ensures proper conditions and fair wages.'

No question that Matt & Nat does not use animal products and it has developed a strong vegan brand since starting in 1995. 

And further in the article, the author advised to check clothing labels to ensure that the fabric used was vegan, identifying these as vegan:

  • Cotton
  • PU Leather
  • PVC Leather
  • Pinatex
  • Mushroom Leather
  • Cork
  • Tencel

 No question again that these fabrics are cruelty-free and vegan. 

On it's website, Matt & Nat says this about the fabrics it uses in its products: 

'Various vegan leathers are used in production, the scientific terms are PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride). PU is less harmful for the environment than PVC and its use is definitely preferred, whenever possible. In addition to being vegan, sustainable materials are constantly sourced in design; these include recycled nylons, cork and rubber.'

 And herein lies the rub.  Matt & Nat is incorporating plant-based materials in its brand - but it also uses both PU and PVC in its products.  Both of these synthetics are very harmful to the environment and the use of PVC in particular is not supportable. 

Therefore it is not a correct call-out in the blog that

'All of the [Matt&Nat} materials are 100%vegan, very eco friendly...'.

We felt it was our responsibility to comment that PU and PVC were vegan but not eco-friendly and are awaiting the outcome of moderation of our comment.

We dug a little further into the connection of Matt & Nat as both vegan and sustainable.

This blog picked up on the use of PU and PVC as a major reason the author no longer purchased Matt & Nat bags and had removed the brand from her Conscious Shopping Directory. Particularly that PVC appeared to be more commonly used and the brand was not transparent about the fabric of its bags. 

'... it turns out a lot of their bags are still PVC. The bag’s outer material is also not included on their website listings, so it’s very difficult to know whether or not a bag is made from PVC.'

The author also queried the brand's working conditions in factories in China and again stated that the brand was not forthcoming in answering her queries. 

Earlier in 2019, Matt & Nat was rated Not Good Enough by respected brand ratings organisation Good On You.* 

Matt & Nat was ranked Great for its impact on animal welfare but Not Good Enough overall for its impacts on the environment and its labour policies:  

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