The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Student Advocates Vegan Fashion

2 min read

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When I’m out shopping the last thing I think about is the ethics. I’m usually much too concerned, for instance, about why they are out of the two-tone ballet flats I want at J. Crew to give a thought to the store’s policies. In fact, I think the only green thing in my wardrobe is an ill-fitting floral shift dress, and that has nothing to do with the eco-friendly use of the term.

This week’s profile, Kat O’Dea, is all about being a conscious consumer.

A vegan, O’Dea also doesn’t wear clothing sourced from animals (no leather, fur or silk) a difficult task considering the majority of purses, not to mention shoes and jackets. made available in retail stores are made from leather.

A recent trend in high fashion has given rise to designers that pay close attention to the source of their textiles, most notably eco-conscious and animal-friendly designer Stella McCartney who has produced a successful fashion empire since 2003.

However, it can be a much more difficult task to find clothing retailers who make ethical choices that aren’t also out of the average person’s price range.

O’Dea, French major, knows the exact policies of the companies she buys from, so she only supports companies who have ethics in mind, all without sacrificing her personal style.

“I try and be [sic] really conscious and buy from companies that don’t sell those things to begin with,” said O’Dea. “Forever 21 for example, doesn’t sell any fur or leather. H&M, also, is really good about their policies.”

In this sense, O’Dea is an activist for animal rights by only supporting companies whose policies she agrees with. Reminiscent of Ally Sheedy in 1980s classic “The Breakfast Club”, she wears a denim jacket and black lace-up flats from Forever 21, a burnt orange bodysuit from American Apparel and an asymmetrical floral skirt form Urban Outfitters. Her beetle charm necklace is from the vintage store Rumors in Richmond.

She says of her current look “It’s kind of vintage-y I suppose, I feel like this skirt has kind of a vintage feel, even though it’s not vintage.”

Her style is heavily influenced by the 1980s, including John Hughes’ “Brat Pack” movies. The humanitarian also credits the blogging website Tumblr as a source of inspiration, finding and following new trends as they happen. One site she finds particularly helpful is

“What’s great is that she posts where she gets the clothes from, so I can go stalk the websites or stores and try and find something similar,” O’Dea said of the eclectic fashion blog.

After talking to O’Dea, I can see why fashion is just as much about your voice as a consumer as it is about that sought-after pair of ballet flats.

Image courtesy of Sarah Kelly/Bullet