We should expect something marked as 'vegan' to fully meet the requirements to be labelled vegan, right down to the individual components and materials used to make it. However, there is a distinct lack of transparency in the fashion industry, so we always advise doing a few checks yourself before handing over your hard-earned cash.
To be considered vegan, items should not contain any type of wool such as alpaca or mohair or contain leather, silk, fur, feathers, bone or suede.
So with this in mind we will be exploring some materials which are used in fashion, that can look and seem vegan, but are not actually animal free. One such material is Grosgrain.
Grosgrain is a fabric defined by its heavy weft. This weaving technique creates a prominent ribbing on the fabric, and you have probably seen it many times on a gifting ribbon.
The material has a tight weave, is firm and reasonably strong.
The grosgrain silk fibre used to make grosgrain can also be used to make other fabrics too and we will cover this further down this article.
Grosgrain is used as a trimming in the military, on evening wear and in millinery. It is also widely used in gifting ribbons and crafting. It is even used as a fabric for the lining of fashion accessories.
Grosgrain fabrics are traditionally made of silk, which comes from the cocoon of the silkworm. To obtain the silk the silkworms are boiled in their cocoons before they hatch, so the threads can be unravelled in one long strand. Silk is not vegan or animal cruelty free. In fact, according to The Material Innovations Society, the number of silkworms killed for their silk each year, when placed end to end, could wrap around the earth twice.
Grosgrain can also be made with a combination of materials such as wool and silk or silk and mohair (wool obtained from the angora goat) or rayon.
These days, there are cheaper alternatives which you may find in craft stores and haberdasheries, made from cotton or low-cost synthetic fibres such as polyester.
Although grosgrain may be made of silk, it is rarely referred to as silk, but instead it is considered a separate fabric. This is not ideal if you are looking for items which are genuinely vegan.
Moire is not a fabric but a pattern, but we are including it in here because it is often made with grosgrain silk.
The moire pattern is a shimmering water effect, which is traditionally given to silk using a technique called 'calendering'. The fabric is run through ribbed rollers to give the ‘watered’ pattern and although best achieved on silk, it can also be applied to acetate, rayon, nylon or polyester.
The end result is a peculiar lustre which works best when made from a corded fabric like grosgrain. (1)
Silk Faille Grosgrain has a subtle sheen and the signature ribbed pattern. Silk faille fabric is used similarly to silk taffeta and shantung, for structured pieces or full gathered looks. Popular for formalwear dresses, skirts, suits, jackets and ties. (2)
Grosgrain and moire are not considered sustainable if the fabrics have been made using silk, wool or non-organic cotton.
Header image: by micheile dot com