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Photo courtesy of Hourglass Cosmetics, shot by Mark Seliger

Six Brands
Leading the
Cruelty-Free Charge

In partnership with our friends at Advertisement

The term “cruelty-free” is absolute: Companies either are testing on or using animals or they aren’t. Some companies have always been cruelty-free, some are continuing to question their methods, and others are making considerable efforts to move the needle even further into a cruelty-free future. Whatever the case, not testing on animals is something we’re fully behind, and these are a few of the brands on our radar that are taking the charge—whether by implementing new techniques or developing alternative materials—to make it a better world for cats, rabbits, dogs, and their friends so that you don’t have to choose between luxury and a cruelty-free world.

  • HOURGLASS

    Carisa Janes’s first job out of Parsons School of Design was at Urban Decay, after which she started consulting with a number of other makeup brands, before launching her own line of cosmetics, Hourglass. She wanted to create truly innovative beauty products that were equally luxurious, the kind your mother or grandmother would own, but with modern ingredients and an ethical promise. This was back in 2004. That’s why today Janes is seen as a visionary in the cruelty-free cosmetics space with her PETA-certified brand. She was doing it before it was trendy. She was doing it because it mattered. “The luxury space seems to be the slowest segment for change,” says Janes. “But the very definition of what is luxury has continued to evolve. It no longer has to mean an indulgence or a splurge.” For Hourglass, this means that luxury is innovation as well as integrity. That’s why the company has made the commitment to go fully vegan by 2020, though many of its products already fit the cruelty-free bill. “Our decision to go completely vegan is tied to our overall commitment to support animal rights,” says Janes. “We’d like to go a step further than just avoiding animal testing.” The next phase, says Janes, is to

  • replace any animal by-products in their ingredients, including beeswax, lanolin, and carmine, which are derived from animals and commonly found in makeup. But reformulating products using vegan ingredients can be tough, and in some cases, Hourglass is creating completely new ingredients so as not to sacrifice the high-performance quality of its makeup. “It’s not easy, but it’s all worth it to me,” says Janes. “Supporting animals helps the environment and ultimately the world we live in,” says Janes. “It really is for the greater good.”

  • HOURGLASS
  • HOURGLASS VEIL TRANSLUCENT SETTING POWDER HOURGLASS VEIL TRANSLUCENT SETTING POWDER, goop $46
  • HOURGLASS VEIL TRANSLUCENT SETTING POWDER, goop $46
  • VON HOLZHAUSEN THE SHOPPER BAG
  • VON HOLZHAUSEN

    Three years ago, when Vicki von Holzhausen started her eponymous line of handbags and accessories, she knew it had to be sustainable. She had been a designer for Audi and Mercedes in Europe, so she was thinking about the future and how we would all live in it. “The auto industry’s trying to solve these big-picture problems,” says von Holzhausen. “I felt like I needed to bring a solution to the table.” But once she started sourcing leather for her brand, she realized that the issue was far deeper than just finding ethical leather. It was about creating something better than leather. “Using leather was not a way forward,” says von Holzhausen, who began searching for new materials. “Even if you think it might be sustainable, it really might not be the case.” So she circled back to the auto industry, and using her technical design background, she trademarked Technik-Leather, a high-performance fabric that could be suited for cars. It’s stain-, scratch-, and water-resistant and is just as beautiful and durable as leather without being as heavy. Ninety-nine percent of the solvents used to create the material are also recycled in the process. And those are just some of the benefits. What von Holzhausen really wants to do is change the perception of leather for the future. “The idea that leather is luxury is interesting because in a lot of ways, leather is actually really common. You can get every grade of leather because it’s just a by-product,” explains von Holzhausen. “Our material is more advanced and much more difficult to create. It’s not produced infinitely, so it is more valuable.” Adding products with value has always been a core mission for von Holzhausen, who keeps her line highly refined: She’s not a big believer in a huge collection; instead, she keeps her focus on a few key pieces that are well researched and well designed—pieces that make meaningful impact for the planet and for us.

  • VON HOLZHAUSEN THE SHOPPER, Von Holzhausen, $450 VON HOLZHAUSEN THE SHOPPER BAG VON HOLZHAUSEN THE SHOPPER, Von Holzhausen, $450
  • ETTIUDE BEDSHEETS
  • ETTITUDE

    Ettitude—a line of gorgeous, satiny, soft, sustainable bedding and sleepwear—came about because its founder, Phoebe Yu, was frustrated. A former trading and outsourcing entrepreneur in Asia, Yu was disappointed by how large retailers valued low production costs over quality, comfort, and sustainability. She’d witnessed this in the industry for more than fifteen years. But this changed when she moved from China to Australia in 2006. She started volunteering for local NGOs and learning more about the environment and the impact of shoddy, mass-produced goods. Yu had a paradigm shift. She decided that her next business would be totally environmentally ethical. And it would fill a void in the bedding market: “When I was shopping for my new home in Melbourne, I spent hours hunting for the perfect sheets,” Yu says. “I was frustrated by the low quality and found the more sustainable options to be outrageously overpriced.” There was a great opportunity for true innovation in bedding fabrics, she says. Yu started testing prototypes for the first bamboo lyocell fabric, a significantly more sustainable fabric that cotton. “It took a few years and many fails until we finally created the perfect combination of softness and durability for this innovative material,” she says. Producing one set of Ettitude bamboo lyocell sheets uses approximately 3,000 fewer gallons of water than a traditional cotton sheet set. The fabric is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. And they’re the softest sheets we’ve tried—ever. One goop editor and her boyfriend haven’t needed melatonin since their first sleep on Ettitude sheets.

  • ETTITUDE BAMBOO LYOCELL SHEET SET, Ettitude, $138 VON HOLZHAUSEN THE SHOPPER BAG ETTITUDE BAMBOO LYOCELL SHEET SET, Ettitude, $138

    STELLA MCCARTNEY

  • HORSE IMAGE
  • Stella McCartney has been on the sustainability train since day one, having never used leather, feathers, or fur in any of her designs. “I was raised to have respect for our fellow creatures and to be mindful of how one approaches life. When I started, it was a no-brainer to take the way I was brought up into the way I conduct myself in business,” says McCartney, who launched her own label in 2001 and has since become a global leader in cruelty-free clothing. “People doubted me and said I could never have an accessories business as there is an association of leather with luxury. But we are proving that it is doable, and we’re the only luxury fashion house providing this kind of product.” What McCartney managed to do was get people to care where their fashion came from at a time when fur was fashion and the word “eco-conscious” was practically unheard of. Now many luxury fashion brands have begun to follow in her ethical footsteps by providing animal-free alternatives, but none have committed to it the way McCartney has—and she continues to progress. Every year, the company measures its commitment by evaluating its environmental profits and loss to “give us a clear, quantified understanding of our impacts,” she says. A lifelong vegetarian and animal rights activist, McCartney proved that you don’t need to use animal products to sell luxury designs and paved the way for other brands to change their ways. “Fashion is the second most harmful industry on the planet. We have to question the process and modernize,” says McCartney. This September marked the first time London fashion week went fur-free at the behest of the British Fashion Council. And McCartney? Well, she did it first.

  • STELLA MCCARTNEY MEDIUM STELLA STAR SHOULDER BAG, goop, $1,370
  • STELLA MCCARTNEY BAG STELLA MCCARTNEY MEDIUM STELLA STAR SHOULDER BAG, goop, $1,370
  • HORSE IMAGE
  • HOZEN
  • HOZEN

    San Francisco–based designer Rae Nicoletti launched Hozen—a line of sustainable vegan handbags—with the intention of staying close to her core values. A longtime vegetarian, Nicoletti became vegan in 2015, and it was only then, she says, that she truly understood the realities of animal agriculture. At the same time, she’d been studying hand leatherwork with a focus on handbag construction under Hermès master artisan Bea Amblard in San Francisco, and she had the idea to combine the things that mattered to her most. “It began as a weekend hobby and blossomed into a passion, but it had become personal on many levels,” says Nicoletti of launching her cruelty-free brand in 2018. “I knew I wanted to create a product that I was truly proud of.” She launched her initial line this spring; all her bags are made in Los Angeles at a fair-wage factory from vegan leather and post-consumer recycled materials, including plastic bottles and natural rubber. Every detail of Hozen’s bags has been carefully considered, and they’re bags that give back: The company donates 10 percent of its profits to Mercy for Animals.

  • HOZEN BELT BAG, Hozen, $240
  • HOZEN BELT BAG HOZEN BELT BAG, Hozen, $240
  • HOZEN
  • SHRIMPS

    No cruelty-free list would be complete without Shrimps, the British brand that launched with a single coat back in 2013 and brought faux fur into the mainstream. The small company was started by London-based designer Hannah Weiland, who sought to combine her love for animals with quirky designs, modern shapes, and searing colors—and it worked. Before Weiland broke onto the scene, there weren’t that many high-quality options for fake-fur coats. Shrimps coats, by contrast, are plush and snuggly, and they quickly became beloved by British celebrities like Alexa Chung and street-style influencers alike. And they are PETA-approved. It’s impossible to look at a Shrimps coat and not feel what Weiland was channeling: her childhood and fluffy animals. Today Weiland’s expanded the line from outerwear to accessories and shoes, but her ethos remains the same: Lead the conversation on cruelty-free design in the luxury world. A future without fur is close—a number of big fashion houses, like Burberry and Gucci, continue to join the faux-fur movement.

  • SHRIMPS CULLEN SAND JACKET, Shrimps, $695  SHRIMPS CULLEN SAND JACKET SHRIMPS CULLEN SAND JACKET, Shrimps, $695
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