"Rising label, VAUTE” (VOGUE), is “the world’s first all vegan fashion brand” (NYLON), “breaking runway history” (CNN), “a vegan fashion empire” (PAPER), that “proves animal-free fashion can be cute, chic and sexy” (Oprah).
VAUTE (“Haute” + V for Vegan) is the world’s first vegan fashion brand, founded with a mission of taking animals out of the fashion equation, by creating something better, using innovative, high-tech, sustainable textiles, cut and sewn in NYC’s garment district with love. We are the first vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week, as “one of the most innovative businesses in NYC” BusinessInsider. With our HQ in the LES of Manhattan, we’re here to disrupt the fashion industry. We are activists, we are weirdos, we are the kids who thought we’d never find someone else who cared as much as we do. We keep our hearts soft, our voices loud, and our heads down to create something better, fashion that will inspire and be perfect for even those who don’t care as much as we do.
We work with the best high-tech mills around the world using organic and recycled fibers to create textiles that are innovative and brilliant. We combine them to create shockingly warm coats, beautiful gowns, comfiest sweaters, and sweet swimsuits. We aren’t perfect, but we do our best every day to make this world better and speak up for those who cannot.
Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, Founder
The “Most Influential Designer” (PETA), Hilgart is the “Rebel of fashion week” CNN, “a badass businesswoman, informative and inspiring” (Bust), “paving the way for future compassionate designers” (U.S. News & World Report), a “fashion mogul with compromising morals” (NYLON), a “Gamechanger, embodying courage, creativity, & conviction” (Conde Nast)
Photo by Philippe Trembley-Berberi at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, 10 minutes from the McDonald’s headquarters. I went from being Girl Scouts and concert band popular, to friendless when I discovered all the things going on in the world that didn’t feel right. Letter writing campaigns, calling makeup companies with a list of animal testing questions, and my own puffy paint statement tee shirts became my life. I cried a lot. For the animals, and my lack of human friends. But at least I had art, music, and my animal friends. Fast forward more than a decade and I discovered “the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra in a secondhand bookstore while modeling in Taipei. In it, it said there is abundance where your talents meet the needs of the world. I worked for 3 years on figuring out what that was, how I could serve the world, the animals, the movement, with the tools and passions I’ve been given in my life. The twists, the turns, the things that didn’t make sense until I put them all together, to create VAUTE.
Photo by Julia Cawley, for Vegan Good Life Magazine
Without a background in fashion, or outside investors, I started this label in 2008, to be the first vegan fashion brand in the world. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone my idea until I was too deep into it to stop, because I knew it didn’t sound marketable or smart at the time and I didn’t want anyone convincing me not to try. I had to do it. With the industrial revolution, we’ve ended up with factory farms and slaughterhouses that prove animals are not machine parts. It needs to stop. And it will only stop if we create something better: the future of fashion. Starting VAUTE was an upheaval of my life. But it was the start of being me, out loud. And now I know the most amazing people who care as much as I do about animals, the Earth, and workers. Sometimes you have to let go of good to make room for incredible. Thank you for joining me! It’s been a wild ride already. As we bring together our talents, energy, and resources, I know we’ll lead the world into a future where one day wearing animals will be a thing of the past.