I won’t lie to you—shopping for vegan suits is a pain. It’s undeniably one aspect of being vegan that poses substantial added hassles. Still, with a little effort, you can find stylish and well-made vegan suits. So let’s review your main options.
Most suits aren’t vegan. The most common suit fabrics are made from wool, which of course is not vegan. Cashmere (from goats) and silk (from silkworms) are two more non-vegan fabrics that are often chosen for suits. Many suits are made from blended fabrics, like 50 percent wool and 50 percent cotton.
Commonly-used vegan fabrics include linen, cotton, polyester, and rayon. This means that vegans have it easy when purchasing lightweight suits for summer, but things get trickier if you are outfitting yourself for colder weather. One possibility is buying a sport coat made from microsuede, a warm vegan material.
Buying Vegan Suits Off the Rack
The majority of inventory carried by retailers won’t be vegan. Fortunately, most retailers will offer at least a few suits made from vegan fabrics.
The trouble is that you’re usually limited to stock on hand. You’ll likely find a dauntingly limited selection when seeking out a suit made from vegan fabric that’s in your size.
Custom-Tailored Vegan Suits
As is often the case in life, money offers an easy solution to your problems. Get your suit made-to-order from a tailor and you’ll no longer confront a limited selection of possibilities. You can select from dozens of excellent vegan fabric options, and you can have your suit made in whichever style you wish. You’ll be handed a book of swatches and decide which fabrics and colors suit you best.
Many Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Vietnam have hundreds of tailor shops that specialize in custom-sewn suits. You can buy tailored menswear in Thailand at a very reasonable price. They can actually cost less than a nice off-the-rack suit sold in Western nations. Most of these tailors will ship to your home country so you don’t have to lug your suit home with you.
The only remaining difficulty is that you’ll need to know something about fashion if you have your suit made to order. When you buy your suit off the rack, they’ll stock mainly the designs that are currently in style. At a tailor in Bangkok, you’re on your own. That gives you the freedom to choose something really special, but only if you’re knowledgeable about what you really want.
If you have it in you to choose your own suit, the best place to start is the superb GQ’s Guide to Suits. I consider list-based articles obnoxious, but here’s a rare exception: Man of Many’s guide to the 16 most popular suit styles will acquaint you with the classic menswear designs.
Suits are nearly always worn with ties, which creates yet another challenge since most ties are made of silk. But this is a comparatively trivial inconvenience when set against the difficulty of finding a nice vegan suit.
Fortunately, you can easily find high-quality vegan ties, and they typically cost less than silk ties. Better rayon and polyester fabrics look and feel indistinguishable from silk. See my vegan necktie page for comprehensive buying advice.