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In the bustling city of Toronto, Laura Warner stands out as a beacon of change and compassion. As a board member of The Vegan Fashion Show, she is not just a biotechnologist; she is a passionate advocate for animal rights and veganism. Her journey, which began in a small town, has led her to become a pivotal figure in advocating for a cruelty-free world.

Martin Paul

Laura Warner, member and supporter of The Vegan Fashion Show

“The Vegan Fashion Show is not just a fashion show; it’s an educational movement,” Warner explains with conviction. This event is at the forefront of promoting ethical and sustainable fashion. According to Warner, it’s about “connecting brands with consumers who value compassion and sustainability.” The show goes beyond the runway, doubling as a charity event with all profits aiding animal welfare causes. Warner beams, “It’s a fun event with food, drinks, games, photo booths, networking and unique performers, but its heart is in making a difference for animals victimized by fashion.”

Jim Orgill

Clothing brand Jummobi is proving that Indigenous design can go hand in hand with vegan fashion. Its designer has a deep-rooted compassion for animals and a desire to make a positive impact on the planet. Jummobi’s creations help safeguard the designer’s Indigenous heritage and culture and are mostly handcrafted.

Warner’s own vegan journey began in 2012, starting with her diet and soon encompassing her entire lifestyle. “I realized that being vegan was more than what I ate; it was about my entire lifestyle,” she recalls. Her commitment led her to start The Honest Whisper in 2016, a non-profit vegan shop and blog that also serves as a platform for her activism.

Warner’s path crossed with Vikki Lenola, a like-minded activist, in 2018. She recalls: “I first met Vikki, the future founder of The Vegan Fashion Show, in 2018 during a demo protest that we both took part in with PETA, which raised awareness about the cruelty of the commercial seal hunt in Canada. Together we took part in many peaceful protests and friendly outreaches, which were focused on changing non-vegan fashion such as animal fur and leather, in Toronto in front of designer stores.” Warner reflects on the long history of activism in the fashion industry, noting that the current achievements are a result of persistent efforts made over the years. She credits the collective efforts of animal rights activists and the general public speaking up for influencing major brands to abandon their use of fur. “The fashion industry has witnessed a notable shift, with numerous brands going fur- or leather-free, and this change is not limited to brands. We’re seeing cities, states and even countries, along with magazines like ELLE Canada, taking a stand against fur,” she says.

Jim Orgill

QZ Shen is a Beijing-based designer with gender-fluid designs.

“Joining The Vegan Fashion Show was a natural step for me in continuing this journey of advocating for a more compassionate fashion industry,” she says. At The Vegan Fashion Show, her role is multi-faceted. She assists with promotion, organizing, casting and education and is involved from start to finish on the big day of the show. “I am proud to support and help grow this platform that is changing the future of fashion,” she says.

When asked about her favourite moments in the show, Warner’s eyes light up. “I love the variety, from the genderless garments to the Indigenous and faith-based designs,” she recounts. She speaks fondly of a featherless look created by a burlesque performer—a testament to creativity and change. “It’s not just about fashion; it’s about making a statement for animal rights,” she says.

Sporko Photography

Kandy Intimates is an inclusive lingerie brand with the tag line “Made for every body, for everybody.”

The DIY look that the performer created for herself to appear in can also be used by others in the performing arts and crafting industries, as the performer also teaches others how they can create faux feathers. At The Vegan Fashion Show, the host took the time to explain that these feathers are not meant for everyday wear but, rather, to serve as a replacement for feathers in industries where they’re “needed.” The host went on to say that this applies to burlesque, Mardi Gras, Las Vegas-style showgirls, puppeteers, event planners, schoolteachers, parents, crafters, cosplayers, LARPers, Renaissance fairs, concertgoers, musicians, go-go dancers, Brazilian carnival, milliners and artists of all modalities.

Jim Orgill

Why are there feathers at The Vegan Fashion Show? These are, in fact, faux feathers that were created by Los Angeles-based burlesque performer and activist Monika Kay, who also teaches others how to make and use faux feathers as an alternative when actual feathers are “needed” for the performing arts and crafting industries. Her Feather Phase Out campaign is taking a lead on eliminating the use of real feathers in fashion.

Addressing the ongoing use of animal-derived materials, Warner believes it’s a matter of exposure and education. “People may not be aware of the incredible vegan alternatives that are available,” she says. She emphasizes that even the least environmentally friendly vegan leather is better than animal-derived leather, citing the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report 2017, and explains that there are much better vegan materials these days. “My favourite is MIRUM, a circular, zero-plastic, low-carbon material that’s bio-based (a virgin natural material derived from natural rubber, plant oils and cork),” she shares enthusiastically. “And there are several other zero-plastic leather alternatives [coming] to the marketplace soon.” She believes that these emerging materials are crucial for the future of sustainable fashion and animal welfare. “Other favourites of mine include plant-based textiles like organic cotton, hemp, cork, Piñatex, Cupro, TENCEL Lyocell, TENCEL Modal and bamboo linen,” she shares, adding that her knowledge about these materials has greatly expanded through research and conversations with individuals involved in their creation and promotion. “The Vegan Fashion Show offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in vegan textiles and even to see some of these materials first-hand,” Warner states. She tells us she is eagerly awaiting the innovations that future years will bring in this field.

Warner also points out the evolving trends in the makeup industry, describing the increasing number of brands adopting vegan and cruelty-free practices. However, she cautions that “just because [something] is cruelty-free doesn’t mean it’s vegan” and advises consumers to look for products that are explicitly labelled as both vegan and cruelty-free to avoid animal-derived ingredients. 

Jim Orgill

RT Atelier uses materials like upcycled umbrellas and is reviving the lost heritage of Bangladesh’s ultra-fine organic handwoven muslin.

Warner emphasizes the significance of conscientious decision-making in product and clothing selection to promote a compassionate lifestyle and work environment. “It’s crucial to be thorough in choosing what products or clothing to use and promote and to speak up about our comfort levels with them,” she states. She believes that individual actions, however small they may seem, can have a profound impact on larger industries.

“We are all leaders in creating the change we desire in the world, and it’s essential for each of us to continuously take steps toward a better future,” Warner adds. She advocates for using resources like apps to verify if a product is vegan and encourages redesigning products to align with vegan standards, acknowledging that while these actions may require more time initially, they are vital.

Warner highlights the importance of being prepared and establishing new standards in daily life to foster a more compassionate environment. “By making time to become knowledgeable about what aligns with our values, we can support and promote these instead of endorsing things that contradict our beliefs,” she says. Her insights reflect a deep commitment to ethical consumerism and the power of individual choices in shaping a more humane and sustainable world.

Jim Orgill

Diane Kroe is a slow-fashion brand offering multi-way travel-refined pieces. Designer Kroe has won the Best Mom Entrepreneur designation from Slice TV.

Looking ahead, The Vegan Fashion Show is set to host the fashion segment at the Planted Expo in Toronto (March 23 to 24) and Vancouver (June 1 to 2) this year. Warner views this as an opportunity to further the cause. “We’re not just showcasing fashion; we’re shaping a more compassionate future,” she concludes with hope and determination. Through her efforts and the platform of The Vegan Fashion Show, Warner is making significant strides toward a world where fashion is kind, ethical and sustainable.


KO Media newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.