HADASS KANTOROWICZ is on the fence. â€œI eat less meat than I used to,â€? said Ms. Kantorowicz, a self-described tantric healer who stopped in last week at Organic Avenue, a vegan general store in downtown Manhattan. â€œIâ€™m definitely a lot more conscious than I used to be.â€? While she appreciates the virtues of a meat-free diet, she stops short of embracing a vegan way of life, one that would ask her to forsake a croc-embossed bag or patent leather pumps. â€œAnd Iâ€™m not ready to wear hemp,â€? she confided.
But a proliferation of vegan-friendly fashions and stores that ban animal products outright from their shelves may tempt her to change her tune. If she has yet to adopt the zero-tolerance approach advocated by the most militant vegetarians, she typifies the customer that many vegan marketers are now courting.
National chains like Whole Foods; boutiques like MooShoes, a New York outlet for imitation-leather wallets, belts and bags; online stores like Pangea; and eco-minded labels like Moral Fiber, Real Fake, Novacas (no cows) and Matt & Nat are encouraging shoppers, even those merely flirting with a â€œcruelty freeâ€? diet, to embrace its precepts not just in the kitchen but in their wardrobes. To their minds, vegan chic, once an oxymoron, is a glossy new marketing handle. Clothes and accessories once shunned for their aura of hair-shirt deprivation have acquired a hint of luxury.