Textile Insight

May / June 2018

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Page 38 of 43

May/June 2018 ~ Textile Insight • 39 textileinsight.com hile not new, veganism is evolving in the consumer mindset. In the past, "vegan products were perceived as 'cheap' or low-quality goods," said Yetzalee Mazza, marketing director for Jambu. "In the world we live in today, people have awoken to environmental consciousness and living healthier lives (as in not eating meats), so naturally vegan products now fall into their lifestyle," the exec added. The footwear firm currently has an array of vegan-friendly styles, mainly in the JBU and JSPORT brands, in which no animal byproducts are used. "The quality of faux leather and textile materials today are so rich and durable, not to mention easy to care for," she added. In marketing the shoes, Mazza noted that Jambu does not mix vegan and non-vegan shoes in photo shoots and the word "vegan" is used in the style name of shoes. There are plans to launch vegan handbags and employ vegan-centric social media and email campaigns, thanks to momentum in the category. Meanwhile, Merrell has 50 vegan-friendly footwear styles in which no animal byproducts are used and are crafted from 100 percent synthetic materials. Consumers can search for vegan styles on the Merrell website and complying offerings have a vegan icon. "As consumers are wanting to know more about where their 'things' come from, the truth about how these things are made is putting people in a position to have to make some ethical decisions," said Daniel Bovalino, owner of Vegan Athletic Apparel, adding, "as veganism continues to grow, at enormous rates, the need for vegan products is going to have to go up with it." Cycling jerseys are best sellers for the brand, specifically the multi-colored fluro variety for customers who "like to peacock themselves while riding!" the exec notes. Consumers are "investing their money into a brand that is outwardly confident to not only make animal-free apparel, but have the word vegan heavily stamped in the brand's name," he commented. O sample makers and production partners, thus eliminating the middleman. For entrepreneurs, Lohr places a big emphasis on marketing, setting up an online store and raising money for pro- duction. The brand that raised the most money after graduating Factory45 is womenswear firm Vetta, which Lohr helped estab- lish manufacturing in NYC and source sustainable materials. Association Input Sustainable Apparel Coalition CEO Jason Kibbey is seeing "more focus on holistic manage- ment of sustainability impact in the marketplace." Instead of following the latest sustainabil- ity trend, he's finding that more firms are using tools like the Higg Index to identify, manage and improve their impact, espe- cially in the outdoor products community. Outdoor Industry Association manager of sus- tainable business Innovation, Nikki Hodgson, agreed that having tools like Higg provide a "common method of assessment for measuring and communicat- ing best practices." And while consumers are interested in eco-impact, it's still function that prevails. "If you need a water- resistant jacket, you might prefer one that is using green chemis- tries, but ultimately, you're going to be more concerned that it per- forms to your expectations," she said. Hodgson is also seeing a focus on ensuring animal welfare in supply chains (such as trace- able down), innovation around chemistry and materials (such as PFOA free and biomaterials) and increased efforts around a circular economy for exist- ing product care, repair and/or repurposing. O Product Prominence: Vegan Variety Clockwise above: Vegan Athletic Apparel's SS Jersey is made from bluesign approved fabrics, has lightweight wicking and abides by an "Ethical on Demand" manufacturing model where products are shipped directly from the brand's Guangzhou factory; Jambu JBU Luna Vegan Sandal; and Merrell's Vegan Vapor Glove 3.

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