Published by PETA.

When designer Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart was a child growing up in Chicago, she noticed that something wasn’t right. She saw that people treated animals poorly and that no one was talking about it. Specifically, she observed that many people wore animals to keep warm in the winter. As an adult, she started a high-end vegan fashion brand featuring a line of winter coats without down or leather. “If I could create an alternative that was as warm or warmer and beautiful for winters,” she explains in a new video for PETA, “then maybe people would learn they didn’t have to wear animals.”

And so Vaute was born. The cruelty-free brand works with high-tech mills around the world that create innovative, organic, and recycled fibers. These sustainable textiles are then cut and sewn in Manhattan’s own garment district to create warm coats, gorgeous gowns, fuzzy sweaters, stylish swimsuits, and more.

In the video interview, Hilgart focuses on the cruelty inflicted on geese and ducks used for their down. She says people in the industry have asked themselves, “How do we get as much down as possible from birds, for as cheap as possible as quickly as possible?” And she says the result is “this live-plucking system where geese are held upside down and plucked alive over and over until their death.” Summing it up, she notes that “animals just don’t belong in business. … You can’t scale animals that have needs and need to be cared for.”

Check out the video to hear what she has to say about her choice to go vegan, among other compassionate morsels of wisdom. Then click here to see Vaute’s current line of animal-free clothing.

Want to learn more about animals used for fashion? You can read up on the down industry and get some helpful tips from our “How to Wear Vegan” feature.

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Do you feel like a lack of empathy toward animals is an automatic relationship deal-breaker? We have just the shirt for you, and it will look perfect under your new Vaute coat! We also carry an “I ♥ Girls Who ♥ Animals” version.