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Checking in with...Lindsey Packer of Humanitaire:

Clothing with a conscience

September 10, 2009|By Michael Miller

Lindsey Packer can speak from experience about the durability of vegan clothes. A glass case at the back of Humanitaire, her store at the Camp at 2937 Bristol St. in Costa Mesa, contains a pair of vegan boots that Packer has walked in all over the world — and which barely look used.

In addition to shoes, the store offers shirts, belts and other clothing items, all made without a single animal product.

Let’s say I’m a guy who wears leather all the time and has never heard of vegan clothing. What would you say to convince me to shop at Humanitaire?

You don’t have be vegan or even vegetarian to shop here. We have things for everybody. In fact, the marketing director at a very local fashion label is not even vegetarian, but he bought his favorite pair of shoes here.

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Do you have a vegan equivalent for every animal product?

There’s an equivalent for just about everything now. It’s come along just in the last few years, actually.

Which lasts longer — leather or imitation leather?

It depends on a number of factors. If you get the low-quality stuff you see at certain chain stores, it’s going to fall apart no matter what.

What is most of your material made out of?

Most imitation leathers are made from a combination of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. Beyond that, I’m not a chemist, but a lot of them, especially the ones we carry, are microfiber.

How many wholesalers do you buy from?

Probably about 25. That includes jewelry suppliers, makeup suppliers, a couple of different book publishers.

Tell me about vegan jewelry.

Actually, a lot of jewelry is vegan by default. It’s things like leather, feathers, pearls that aren’t vegan.

Does it help business to have Native Foods right in front of your store?

Native has been very, very good for traffic, and traffic has been good since 118 Degrees [another vegan restaurant at the Camp] opened up a couple years ago as well.

Do you ever get requests to custom-make something vegan?

We aren’t a manufacturer, so we don’t have the facility for that. But I occasionally get a commission to make a watch strap for somebody. I actually made the strap I’m wearing now. Usually, we recommend people we know who can make something.

What’s the nicest compliment you’ve ever received about one of your items?

I don’t know about the nicest, but the one we get the most often is that people say they would never know an item wasn’t leather if they hadn’t bought it here.

What do you think the future is for vegan clothing? Do you think your store might have more competition in the years to come?

Anything is really possible. But the supply of vegan fashion out there is getting much better. More companies are doing things that happen to be vegan. Toms finally got around to making vegan shoes. Macbeth, a few years ago, started making vegan sneakers, and we can’t stock enough of them. There are things that just fly out of here when we get them.


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