(Source: Vaute Couture Hoodless Emily in Insulated Wonderfelt, $380; Pegasus in Insulated Moleskin Black, $368; Angela Swing Coat in Insulated Organic Moleskin, $400)As weather gets colder during these remaining months ending in "ber" (or should we say "brr"?), a reliable coat becomes your best friend. Unfortunately, keeping warm usually means turning to fur, wool, down feathers and other animal materials. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, founder of Vaute Couture, created a vegan alternative of functional, fashion-forward designs that will convert even the staunchest of leather lovers.
Vaute launched in 2009 after Hilgart quit her Ford modeling contract and MBA schooling to pursue cruelty-free fashion. As a Chicago native, she desired a winter coat that both battled the city's frigid winters and aligned with her animal rights activism. Such a coat didn't exist. Hilgart took this into her own hands and after eight months of development, she introduced a line of dress coats that were all windproof, snow and rain resistant, and ultra warm.
(Source: Vaute Couture Reading Skirt in Cobalt, $83; Felicity Organic Sherpa Pullover, $168)
The line steadily gained a following through the years and in February 2013 debuted as the first all-vegan label to show during New York Fashion Week. The clothes themselves are a major hit, playing with innovative silhouettes and jewel tones in recyclable materials. You won't miss your old coats since Vaute's fabrics give a similar look and feel. Waxed canvas, for example, works in lieu of vintage leather and wonderfelt, made from plastic bottles, resembles pressed wool felt.
It is important to know that the high-tech, ethical fabrics are custom to Vaute and take several months to craft. So, as an independent brand, Vaute's small team relies on pre-orders to fund production of its current season designs, although there are several past designs readily available now. We immediately fell in love with the emerald green wonderfelt coat ($380), the red organic moleskine hooded swing coat ($400) and an insulated moleskin coat with a zip-off skirt ($368). Aside from outerwear, the cobalt blue A-line skirt ($84) is a top pick, along with an organic cotton turtleneck ($168).
Shop the full collection here.