Dyes used in vegan apparel and footwear could contain traces of animal.

Published 22nd September 2021

As of 2020, there were an estimated 75.3 million vegans worldwide, with this number set to rise, the vegan women’s fashion market alone is predicted to be worth $1095.6bn by 2027. Currently, footwear is driving this growth and holding around 40% share in revenue, closely followed by the apparel sector. As a result, the development of vegan alternatives to animal-derived materials such as leather, wool and fur has also increased, with brands and retailers looking to cater for the vegan market.

Products made from PU, PVC, and new ‘novel materials’ marketed as alternatives to leather are widely available and strongly positioned as ‘animal-free’ products. However, input chemistry must also be considered alongside product components and materials when they are labelled and sold as vegan. Dyes, glues, inks, and pigments could potentially contain animal-derived ingredients and by-products, thereby making vegan products with a high number of components, such footwear and apparel a higher risk.

Perhaps unknowingly to consumers, animal derived raw materials such as collagen, glycerin, gelatin, wax, bone char and pigments can be found in manufacturing chemistry. More recently, dyes have been of particular concern throughout the footwear and apparel industry, due to the resurgence in the use of natural dyes as consumers are becoming much more conscious of the need for a sustainable lifestyle and the impact that synthetic dyes have on the environment.

Natural dyes derived from the environment are often used in products and advertised as containing natural ingredients and ‘vegan friendly’.  These claims can be misleading to the consumer as natural ingredients can also be animal derived. Biological pigments produced by animals such as lac insects, cochineal insects, murex, octopus, and cuttlefish are amongst those commonly used in natural dyes for their shades of red, indigo and brown. In comparison to vegan food items, when purchasing footwear and apparel, there is lack of access to a list of input ingredients, thereby making it difficult for the consumer to identify whether the product contains any animal derived components or by-products, meaning that they are reliant on the legitimacy of the vegan claim.

The new Vegan Verification Programme from Eurofins | Chem-MAP® provides assurance to manufacturers, brands and consumers through a robust testing protocol of DNA analysis, FTIR analysis and microscopy. Testing of high-risk elements such as dyes, glues, inks and pigments allows for the validity of both products and packaging endorsed as ‘vegan-friendly’ or ‘animal-free’ beyond self-declarations of conformity from suppliers, and the absence of animal-derived materials such as leather, wool, fur and feathers.

Evidence that a product contains no animal derivatives is becoming increasingly encouraged within the fashion industry, with the British Retail Consortium administering new voluntary guidelines on veganism in fashion to provide consumer confidence and assurance when purchasing vegan items. Eurofins | Chem-MAP® Vegan Verification programme can not only support product claims with compelling evidence but also through its partnership with The Vegan Society and BeVeg as approved testing providers, offer further credibility (to the fashion and apparel sector) with a robust testing protocol to substantiate vegan claims.

For more information, please contact the Eurofins | Chem-MAP® team on info@chem-map.com.



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