Exclusive interview: Vegan fashion is the future

Vegan fashion, a term just recently associated with Peta and other animal rights organisations, has been gaining traction with a very high chance of becoming mainstream. Marche Ethique is one great example of fashionable high-quality vegan merchandise online. Launched in Singapore by Kajol Sethia, this online destination for Vegan fashion will not leave you searching for more, even if you’re not Vegan.

vegan fashion Labante London | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com
Labante London | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com

Fashion Bloc: Please tell us why and how you launched Marche Ethique?

Kajol Sethia: I was struggling to find high-quality fashionable products that are not just vegan and cruelty-free but are also aesthetically inclined. After desperately searching into a lot of stores for designer fashion, I ended up being disappointed because most products that I like were made out of leather/wool/silk/fur and other animal products.

After facing these situations over and over again, I finally decided to end this problem by launching Marché Éthique, an online fashion marketplace for high-quality vegan and cruelty-free products.

I started everything on my own i.e. from website development to sourcing brands, to marketing, in short everything single-handedly done by me. And honestly speaking it has been a tough and exhausting journey but this work has become my passion and addiction i.e. to not only ease people’s search of finding ethical alternatives but also in helping the animals and in giving them a good life as Marché Éthique’s social giveaway.

vegan fashion Blank Sunglasses | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com
Blank Sunglasses | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com

FB: When did you start paying attention to what you’re wearing in terms of the product origin?

KS: I have been fashion-conscious since I learnt to shop on my own. Quality and Design Assurance is something I look into before purchasing any products. The truth and cruelty behind leather industry hit me rock bottom. So, I started to minimise my purchase and swear to only buy ethical and cruelty-free products. The worst incident happened when a very good brand (not to name) sold me a leather boots stating 100% faux fur. After 6 months I actually saw the bottom of the boot and was devastated to see 100% calf leather in it. That incident was my first sign to start something which assures cruelty-free shopping and which is now known to be Marché Éthique.

FB: What is your mission at Marche Ethique? Do you have a bigger picture – to influence not just to sell?

KS: I started Marché Éthique, not just to sell designer products but also to help the animals by giving away a portion of the profit. I have collaborated with a local animal welfare organisation in Nepal called Sneha’s Care Foundation and together with them we hope to end animal cruelty in Nepal and slowly in the rest of the world.

In terms of fashion, my mission for Marché Éthique is to collaborate with big and influential brands like Gucci, Prada, etc and produce Vegan-friendly products together. Definitely, this is a long-term vision and I believe that once executed we can prove to the top end collaborators that “Veganism is the next big change.” This is because I realised most non-vegans are not ready to buy new brand products regardless of its design and quality because they believe that they can buy a “known brand” at the same price.

FB: What is vegan fashion?

KS: Vegan fashion as I believe is something which has minimal impact on the environment and a zero impact fashion to animals.

FB: Do you find it hard to have a fashionable selection of vegan fashion?

KS: I used to, initially, and that was the reason I started Marché Éthique. Now I literally have options to buy a variety of high-quality products from winter coats to shoes to even watches that are luxuriously designed to be vegan-friendly. So, I believe, slowly but surely, soon I will have a wide range of good selection of vegan fashion to reduce the pain people like me face in the world.

FB: What brands do you work with? Are they well-known brands?

KS: At the moment, I am working with about 10+ different brands few of them are: LaBante London, Brave GentleMan, Unreal Fur, Evig Grön, Votch, Noumenon and more. I believe they aren’t as known as the top players like Stella McCartney, mainly because they aren’t that old and it’ll take them some time to get the market share. But in the Vegan Community, LaBante London, Unreal Fur and Brave GentleMan are very well known for their high quality, sustainable products.

Evig Gron | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com vegan fashion
Evig Gron | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com

FB: Can you name us some really cool vegan brands whose products and values are great and inspiring alike?

KS: I really love the brand called Evig Grön. They produce luxurious Swiss Watches which is not only very well designed but it also aligns with my love for animals and nature. Their packaging is fabulous and for every packaging, they plant a tree, which is really inspiring. Until now, I wasn’t a watch person or I’ve been waiting for brands like Cartier to produce some Vegan selection of watches but with Evig Grön in the market, I don’t need to wait anymore. They are just fabulous.

Another brand I love is called Unreal Fur, I didn’t know about them until very recently. As I come from Nepal i.e. a very cold country, I was always struggling in winter because most coats have down/wool/fur and the ones weren’t quite appealing. After knowing about Unreal Fur and their gorgeous faux fur collection which is also worn by celebs like Nina Dobrev and Josephine Skriver, they have at least bought a lifetime customer i.e. me.

Also for men, my best-seller brand is Bronnko. I love their design and quality. I have been getting re-orders for their shoes and men just love it. Above all, non-vegans are buying this brand, which means this brand has a really good taste when it comes to designing.

Unreal Fur | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com vegan fashion
Unreal Fur | Photo Courtesy Marcheethique.com

FB: When it comes to brand selection what comes first – brand values or product aesthetics?

KS: As per brand selection my first criteria is product aesthetics. I believe that any brand producing Vegan fashion already have strong values associated with them. But I want Marché Éthique to voice out for its product selection where even non-vegans who don’t care about values and only care about the design, come and shop with us.

FB: What do you do when you’re not growing Marche Ethique?

KS: I love climbing and being outdoors. After starting Marché Éthique I didn’t get much time to get outdoors and climb mountains but I have planned few days off to go back to Nepal and spend sometime in the mountains. Climbing mountains just take away all my stress and brings me to a state of complete calmness and peace. This actually benefits me to get new and better strategies for my company.

FB: What’s next on your calendar?

KS: For a couple of years I want to spend time in growing Marché Éthique. But meanwhile, I am also planning to start an Animal Sanctuary.

There are just too many homeless streets animals in Nepal which include dogs, cats and even cows. And especially in Winter, I see them struggle with cold, which makes me really sad. Alone, as an individual, I can’t save as many animals I want to. But with the start of this Animal Sanctuary, I believe that I can save more animals and give them a better and healthier life.

Currently, for every purchase made by our clients, we are providing a warm bed to the street animals of Nepal. This could really give warmth to our innocent animals in the season of cold.