When I hear the words, “vegan fashion,” two names come to mind: Chloé and Josh! General of the GirlieGirlArmy, Chloé Jo Berman, and The Discerning Brute himself, Joshua Katcher, are the walking, talking examples of what it means to be ethically and fashionably KICKASS! Ecorazzi recently chatted with the duo and got the inside scoop on latest and greatest ethically-conscious fashion. Enjoy!
Ecorazzi: I’ll be honest; when it comes to fashion I’m TOTALLY clueless. Since VegNews just knighted you both “Ethical Style Icons” I’m relying on you to tell our readers what’s hot RIGHT NOW!
Joshua Katcher: For the men, classics are always in. Every stylish man should have a pair of plimsoles, wingtips, or oxfords, with a narrow, rounded toe. In fact, I just blogged about a bunch of styles! Also, having a variety of waistcoats and fitted sports jackets to mix an match with a pile of thrift ties and button-downs is a good idea. Narrow, fitted jeans and slacks, lace up boots, and traditional patters like buffalo check, plaid, ikat and paisley are great for details, but don’t get carried away. Matt & Nat makes awesome accessories for guys, but if that’s out of your budget, military surplus stores always have suprisingly well-designed and utilitarian bags. If you wear glasses, go for a thicker, more distinct frame. Guys, please steer clear of flip flops, [Editor note: ...slowly removes flip flops} flare and wide-leg pants, and logos. These companies should pay you to advertise for them, so stop paying them to wear a huge logo on your chest! Check TheDiscerningBrute.com at least once a week and you’ll see tons of updates on how to be stylish without compromising your values.
Chloé Jo Berman: Booties, booties, booties!! Olsen Haus makes the most fabulous, inspired (vegan, obviously!) booties that are just slightly splattered with paint. Every girl needs a pair of booties. And you can totally rock them with pencil skirts OR jeans! We are also totally in love with plaid. I’d plaid my apartment if my Fiance would let me. And I’m just mad for my Vegan Queen “Hobo” bag which is vegan and completely eco! It’s got beautiful hardwear and feels luxe, like my pre-vegan handbags used to feel (gorgeous lining, special details, strong construction, etc). GirlieGirlArmy.com gives weekly tips on everything from where to get the hottest trend to why you should dump your jackass of a boyfriend. And the great news is – it’s all entirely eco and vegan and greeny green green – so it’s an obvious that any of the stone cold foxes on your list need to sign up asap! You can trust us to do the leg work to find that cruelty-free vegan coat for you.
E: Chloé Jo, the word on the street is that some lucky vegan is getting her own show. Spill the beans, woman!
CJB: It’s been a long road, but yes – we are in Pre-Production on a TV show for the Style network calledHot Green Girl produced by Grenada and Finola Hughes (How Do I Look?) and co- written by me and Matthew Boren (Momma’s Man). This show (and it’s sister book which I’m currently at work on) will guide you to be a sexy, hot, compassionate bitch or bro and live eco- friendly without being a grass stinkin’ crunchy hippy. – it’s the tv show accomplice to GirlieGirlArmy.com (which has now been around 10 years!!!). We will share the easiest things you can do to save the world in bright, colorful, loving, sexy, sisterly – and a little outrageous – speak. Hot Green Girl is a call to arms for badass diva’s and head turning cougars, who just happen to save the planet from hacky sack and doom at the same time. Newbies, vegan vixens, the Mom next door, and anyone who wants to do their part without sacrificing their lingerie will love the fabulous tips that this show is overflowing with. What this show knows about; pop culture, crafting, make overs, sustainable/ eco living, cupcake baking, fundraising, scouring vintage stores, animal care, and how to re-use just about everything in a titillating, silly, and (most importantly) eco-glamazonian way.
E: And Josh, what projects are you working on?
JK: I am so overwhelmed at the moment! I am currently producing and directing a show for PBS with two of my icons, Amy Sedaris & Paul Dinello (Strangers With Candy). I’m writing an article that will be featured in VegNews, and obviously trying to keep up with the blog. I’m going to as many events as I can to support environmental, animal, and social justice causes. Aside from that, I have a rescued chihuahua named Enzo who needs lots of love, I’m always experimenting in the kitchen, trying to keep up with my ceramics hobby, and even attempting to sleep once in a while!
E: Tell me your stories about getting bit by the tofu bug! Why did you become vegan?
CJB: I’ve always been an activist; first in the LGBT community, then by adopting a dog and learning that over 800 dogs and cats get put down per day (why would anyone buy?!) and becoming a dog/ cat adoption advocate, and finally by dating a vegan who turned me “mostly vegan.” It wasn’t til I came to it on my own, truly (by reading tons of books and watching films like Earthlings) that I felt an innate call to arms and adopted veganism into my life entirely. Elie Weisel said “Neutrality only helps the oppressor,” which basically means (for me) that I have a responsibility to save animals lives, and to speak up for those without a voice however I can. I’ve got a big mouth and personality, and I’m not afraid to use either for those who can’t speak for themselves. I’m not a fan of oppression on any level, and to know these sweet, sentient beings – who have every right to be occupants of our planet – are being treated in the most hideous of ways absolutely breaks my heart. We all have a responsibility to really make a difference, and when confronted with wrongdoing, to act tirelessly to create change. Plus – vegan food is delicious! Let’s face it – it’s undebatable that eating vegan is better for the planet, for your personal health, and most importantly – the animals. It may seem impossible at first – but with SO many wonderful sites around to help guide your process – it gets simple pretty quickly. You can read my 101 on why I’m veg and my tips to easy green living – plus a great list of the best eco- clothing/ shoe designers – here. Once I went vegan – I visited Farm Sanctuary and fell madly in love with all the magical animals, and magnificent spirit of the organization. I started working with Farm Sanctuary soon after, which has been a beautiful pairing. My #1 recomendation is to visit Farm Sanctuary, at either the NY or CA shelter, and meet the animals face to face. It changes your whole Weltanschauung. It rocks your core a bit to realize what you’d been buying into your whole life.
JK: I went vegetarian in high school after learning about deforestation in the Amazon for cattle grazing. At first it was totally an environmental decision. When our eco-club watched a documentary on slaughterhouse conditions to give us some motivation to try being veg for a week, the ethical argument also became very clear. The next thing I did was read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, and since then, I’ve never looked back. It was such a shock to my perception, because as a kid we like to believe that adults make the best decisions. I found myself at odds with almost everyone about this issue, and it really gave me a tough skin. The truth is that if most people know how meat, dairy, leather, fur and all other animal products are attained – they probably wouldn’t want to support it. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where advertising spreads mythologies about all of these things, and we buy in to them because they appeal to our egos, and scare us away from falling out of line. It’s almost like a religion. I’ve been vegan for over a decade, and as a result, I still love food and fashion, but I make healthier, more ethical decisions, as opposed to simply what’s convenient.
E: These days being vegan doesn’t mean a life sentence of dreadlocks and patchouli. How would you define the term: “New Vegan?”
JK: The New Vegan is a powerhouse. She is a critical thinker who has learned the dialect of pop culture and is making change from the inside. He is a creative who is influencing culture and policy from a place of leverage. On top of these things, the New Vegans don’t just blend in, they live a lifestyle that is desirable – from being healthy and fit, to indulging in great food, to styling themselves with some glamour, to having fun! We’re not martyrs and hippies anymore. The New Vegan has a responsibility to the animals and the environment to enjoy life – because, even though he know some of the darker sides of humanity, if we come across as being deprived, that only hurts our cause. The New Vegan is definitely catching on, and I hear from so many new vegans every day. It’s really inspiring.
CJB: Well, we are clearly cooler than everyone else. J/K. My whole thing is – vegan doesn’t need to be sans glamour. Just because you care about people, animals, and the earth does not give you an excuse to get your hair did and throw on a sweet vintage frock once in a blue moon! I think the more presentable and foxy we look, and the kinder we are, the more we can squash the stereotypes which ignite fear mongering. There is this stereotype that we are total fringe society dwellers, but the truth is – we are lawyers, doctors, exotic dancers, orthodox jews, black, white, whatever… we are everywhere. And we are growing like wildfire! Just through my list, I know of at least a few hundred converted veggies… so the more we prove to people we aren’t a movement to be wary of or afraid of, then we can open hearts and minds to the animals (and the environments!) plight. Just being presentable in every way is key to having a message get heard. Personally, I enjoy a badass in dreadlocks sporting some essential oils..
E: Ya’ll it’s getting cold out there and this little vegan is sick of layering!! What are you wearing to stay fashionably warm and cruelty-free!
JK: Vegan coats are a pain in the butt. I recently blogged about that too. People say that last frontier of veganism was perfecting vegan cheese (thanks Dr. Cow!) but we have that now! Silly as it sounds, we still don’t have too many coats. Loomstate is an organic line with some cotton based coats. Military surplus coats are sometimes nylon and cotton blends. But finding wool-free, down-free, leather-free coats is a challenge. Vaute Couture supposedly has some mens’ coats in development. Can’t wait to see those!
CJB: I’m not going to lie – finding vegan coats is much more difficult than finding vegan shoes or purses (which is currently beyond easy). I wrote this blog about the vegan coats currently on the market, but I’m waiting with baited breath for the Vaute Couture line to launch! In the meantime – I just ordered the Cheap Monday Friday coat on my blog.. but I’ve been wearing vintage coats and an H&M shmata which REALLY needs to get donated. My coat collection is currently my least fabulous moment.
E: Let’s talk celebrities! Who the hottest and nottest of today’s fashion world?
CJB: I’d say the NOTTEST are the fur hags – seriously gross and shame on them! How could you wear the skin of a dead, tortured, anally-electrocuted being on your body and call that beauty? A woman in fur shows an ugly soul to me… a hideous and black heart. It’s horrible for me, living on NYC’s upper side, surrounded by young women in full length furs – clutching their pet store yorkies. Note those ladies: I will flyer you with all-about-fur literature, and I will wag my finger at you on the street. The hottest are the compassionate green goddesses like Emily Deschanel, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Coolidge, Rory Freedman, Daniela Sea, Lisa Edelstein, and (wait for it…) Pamela Anderson who make cruelty-free fashion look brilliant and hot. Plus they have brains, personalities, sex appeal, and senses of humor! Whatever happened to women being sex kittens anyway? I’m SO over a waify, personality-less snooze. Strong, compassionate celebs are on my hot list!
JK: I love all the celebs that give their time and support to organizations like Farm Sanctuary and PETA and others. I’ve met a lot of these people from Russell Simmons, Emily Deschanel, Mark Ronson, Joan Jett, and Kristen Johnston to Alec Baldwin and even Jenna Jameson. On the flip side, I seriously can not grasp how ANYONE can still wear fur. Never mind a celebrity that everyone wants to copy. Also, Matthew McConaughey is on my shit list for doing those nasty beef commercials. It just sounds so infantile and self-indulgent. Anyone who goes out of their way to promote meat is in danger of appearing to be seriously ignorant. Especially with meat production being the numero uno cause of global warming.
E: Final question and one I ALWAYS ask. If you could meet any famous vegan – dead or alive – who would it be and why?
CJB: I grew up in NYC in a pretty crazy world.. I threw parties and did the door at the major nightclubs throughout my teen years and my twenties, so many of the people I looked up to – would end up at my parties… that said, I’ve met many of the people I’d admired. But dead… Laura Nyro. She was vegetarian, not vegan, but it would be Laura Nyro. I felt this inimitable pull to her music as a kid, and all sorts of odd, fortuitous circumstances kept pulling me to her in so many ways. If you’ve not listened to Laura Nyro’s music – I suggest you buy her entire back catalogue. She’s beyond genius – just the Godmother of modern singer songwriters as far as I’m concerned. I’d want to have some sort of mystical tea party with her, with glitter and cupcakes, and just listen to her talk and watch her sip her tea…
JK: River Phoenix. Do I really need to say why? He was like the vegan Kurt Cobain – beautiful, sad and almost mythical.
A big thanks to Chloe and Joshua for taking time out of their busy schedules to help make us all a little more beautiful (inside and out). If you want to stay up to date on all things vegan, make sure you visit GirlieGirlArmy.com and TheDiscerningBrute.com!
photo credit: LordJDavis.com