How to buy good quality vegan winter gear

How to buy good quality vegan winter gear

My search for vegan winter gear began when I purchased a new parka for December in New York.

As the winter season here is much harsher than it is in Australia, I needed some decent winter gear. I went to Macys, found a North Face parka that I liked, and bought it.

A few days later, I was looking at the tags and I read that the insulation was ‘goose down’. Goose? I thought. That’s weird.

A quick Google search told me that the source of goose down is, in fact, feathers from geese (or some other large birds). The feathers can be taken from the nest, but they’re often live-plucked from the bird itself. Definitely not cruelty-free.

I felt terrible for not realising this before I bought the parka. As a vegetarian, this was not a product I felt proud of buying. I took it back and got a refund.

My search for a new parka began immediately. This time, I would be sure to check that the coat was completely free of animal products. It started off a little rocky, but once I got my head around it, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Here’s all that I’ve discovered in my search for vegan winter gear!

Cruelty-free winter gear

What is cruelty-free / vegan clothing?

Vegan or cruelty-free clothing involves no animal cruelty in the process of making it, which means that the materials used will not include anything from animals.

which materials should we avoid?

Fur – This one is obvious, and I think most people already boycott fur. These days, most fur that you see on clothing is synthetic (faux fur). Just make sure you double check it before you buy!

Goose down and down insulation – As per my mistake, I bought a down insulated parka without realising that it contained an animal product. If you’re wondering whether the synthetic is as warm as down – it’s just as good, though slightly heavier. It’s also cheaper and hypoallergenic! Here’s some more info on down vs synthetic.

Wool – This is a hard one to avoid, as wool is used in so many winter products for its thermal properties, but wool is not cruelty-free. Also keep an eye out for products that are labelled Merino or Cashmere as these are both wool. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to find alternatives to wool products – Polyester is a common one.

Leather/Suede – Most people are under the impression that leather is just a by-product of the meat industry, but that is not always true. Here’s some more info on where leather comes from. It can be difficult to find leather alternatives when looking at shoes, but it’s not impossible! More on that below.

Snow boots - Woodstock, New York

how to Find shoes + Boots

Shoes and boots are probably the most difficult item to buy cruelty-free, as many products have some leather or suede on the exterior or in the lining. Many regular shoe stores will stock vegan products – just ask a shop assistant to point them out for you. I found the above pair of super cute snow boots that way!

I also found some dressy winter boots by typing ‘vegan boots’ into Google Maps and finding a local store (Mooshoes) that made quality shoes and boots from imitation leather.

When you’re looking for shoes, try to find products made of imitation leather, waxed canvas, or rubber. Rainboots (or gumboots as us weirdo Australians would say) are usually vegan – just line them with some thick, wool-free socks for warmth.

The Columbia brand actually has a decent number of vegan boots in their collections, take a look here and check the materials in the product descriptions.

Cruelty-free winter gear

how to Find Parkas + Coats

Finding a parka was more difficult than it should have been. I used all of my internet searching abilities, but didn’t find an awful lot. I went to check out a vegan clothing store in NoLita, and on my way I happened to pass an outdoor clothing and adventure store called Fjallraven.

Curious, I went inside and lo-and-behold, some of the coats were made entirely out of synthetic materials! These were not advertised as vegan coats, just normal coats that didn’t have any wool or goose down. And the quality is truly fantastic. The price tag was hefty at around $450 USD, but when the temperature drops to  -15°C and I’m cosy and warm in my coat, I have no regrets.

There are other brands that make vegan coats. Columbia‘s Snow Eclipse Jackets are entirely synthetic, or just head into any outdoor clothing store and ask the assistant which parkas and coats are insulated with synthetic materials.

Cruelty-free winter gear

how to Find Winter woolies

You never really think of winter woolies as animal products, but then someone points it out to you and you think ‘Duh, they’re called woolies. As in wool. How did I not see that before?’.

So how do we find scarves, beanies, sweaters, and gloves that aren’t made from wool? Pretty easy, actually – just check the tags! Anything that says 100% synthetic, polyester, or nylon is good to go.

Cruelty-free winter gear


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11 Responses to “How to buy good quality vegan winter gear”

  1. eden

    Which brand of parka did you find that didn’t use animal products? I love my North Face jacket (it’s the only one I found that has been able to keep me warm here during our cold Canadian winters). I’d love to buy one that doesn’t use animal products. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      North Face was the brand where I accidentally bought the goose down, but they do also have a range of synthetic parkas. The one I ended up getting was by Fjall Raven. Not all of their parkas are synthetic, but a lot of them don’t have any animal products. I just asked the shop assistant which ones were synthetic and she pointed them out to me! I also heard that Patagonia have some synthetic parkas! 🙂

  2. Debbie

    It is really interesting the way you approach all this gift craziness before Christmas. I love what you propose I also never realised that wool actually comes from animals!
    Happy holidays! Kisses from Greece!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Debbie 🙂 It’s not something that many people realise until somebody points it out! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. Happy holidays!

  3. Erika

    Oh wow, I knew fur and leather were bad, but I never knew that wool and silk were so harmful to animals, too! Thanks for this post — very informative!!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It’s amazing how this information is usually swept under the rug! Most people have no clue about the source of the materials in their clothing products. Hopefully we can spread the word and get more people to buy responsibly 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Erika!

  4. Sarah

    Hey Ashlea!

    I have been following your blog for a while now and have finally managed to launch my own bilingual travel and culture blog (I told you about that on IG a while ago but you probably don’t remember since you get a million comments a day! ^^).

    I love your whole style and love reading your posts and thoughts! Thank you for being such a great inspiration. 😉
    I was wondering – from blogger to blogger – how to get into a ‘blogger community’, because it seems like a lot of bloggers know each other? Any advice?

    Greetings from a German journalist, living in Connecticut!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hi Sarah! That’s awesome news, I definitely remember seeing you on Instagram! It’s lovely to hear that you’ve been inspired by my posts – this is really why I started blogging in the first place, so it’s great to know that my work is appreciated 🙂

      You are correct, a lot of bloggers do tend to get to know each other over the internet. I think the best way to start off is by joining a Facebook group for bloggers, I think you’d really enjoy being a part of Girls vs Globe. Another way is to follow a bunch of other blogs that are a similar size to yours, and then comment on their posts. You can also attend conferences like TBEX because you get to meet plenty of other bloggers. I hope this helps!

      • Sarah

        Thank you for your great tips! And thank you for checking out my blog! <3
        I have been looking for a cool blogging or media conference for a while now but a lot of great ones seem to be happening at home (that is, Europe). 😉 Guess that calls for a trip home! 😛

        Best, have a great weekend!

        • Ashlea Wheeler

          You’re welcome! There are actually loads of blogging conferences here in USA – TBEX has a North America option, or WITS is a good one for female bloggers 🙂

  5. T-kane

    Hi, I really like your blog so educational. I of course already knew the horror of animal cruelty in clothing but thank you so much for sharing this and educating others. I wish more people would stop being so selfish and self centered and think about the torture and cruelty the animals go through for the sole purpose of human greed.


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