New guidance has been agreed by UK retailers to help ensure vegan fashion products really are 100% free of animal products.

The new guidance, prepared by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), have been launched as enthusiasm for all things vegan is quickly attracting the attention of leading clothing brands and retailers.  In the last year a host of well-known high street brands have launched Vega clothing lines, including M&S, H&M, Top Shop and New Look.

BRC says retailers should be able to provide their customers with the assurance that any vegan product can be purchased with confidence. As the guidance explain, classing a product as vegan is a complex process with the need for retailers to ask more questions than ever before. It not only rules out using leather and wool, but also many glues, dyes, and traces of use in more hidden elements. This means retailers would need to go back to their suppliers and ask the right questions about the raw material ingredients in order verify them individually.

To help address and tackle these challenges, the BRC has worked with its members to create a Voluntary Guideline on Veganism in Fashion for retailers and brands. The guidance includes: 

  • Sequence of steps and questions to ask both internally and of suppliers to ensure materials are vegan
  • Highlights the risk areas
  • Internal questions – what to consider, where to begin and then how to actually implement
  • A comprehensive list of all animal derived fibres and materials – this goes into greater depth than retailers currently have
  • A vegan declaration for bill of material

BRC has also urged its member not to refer to vegan products as ‘sustainable’ unless they can provide good evidence to support the claim.

Image: Winter boots from Marks & Spencer’s 350-line strong vegan footwear range