In Conversation With Annick Ireland - Immaculate Vegan
Happy World Vegan Day! Who better to interview on this day than Annick Ireland founder of Immaculate Vegan, a lifestyle companion and curated shop for living beautifully and ethically.
Why did you start Immaculate Vegan?
I became vegan after adopting a greyhound from the Retired Greyhound Trust, and making the link between the pets we love and all animals. It was then that I started looking for vegan alternatives in fashion, starting with nice non-leather bags and shoes. To be honest, I found switching to vegan food really easy, but fashion and beauty was harder. I love fashion – I believe in buying things that are beautifully designed and well made – and when I started looking for brands that were ethical but also stylish and accessible (not fast fashion, but not Stella McCartney either) I really struggled.
I then did a lot of research (mainly on Instagram) and I did find that there were lots of amazing brands out there – but they weren’t easy to find and weren’t well known. I also realized that for the average ‘conscious consumer’ who isn’t necessarily vegan or vegetarian but just wants to make more thoughtful, better choices when buying fashion, they would never find those products.
So that’s why I started Immaculate Vegan. It was initially a blog where I was sharing the best of what I was finding, and then the natural next step was to create a store with all those brands in one place. We describe ourselves as a lifestyle platform and curated shop for living beautifully and ethically. One year in, with over 130 brands, we are spearheading the vegan fashion and lifestyle revolution, with our sophisticated curation of the most desirable vegan fashion, beauty and homeware products in the world.
We're also a rich source of information and inspiration for everyone wanting to make a more positive impact through what they buy. We help our customers navigate the murky waters of ethics and sustainability in fashion and beauty; and we make it easy to find the best brands to get behind.
Has being ethical and sustainable always been important to you?
For the past few years absolutely. I’ve never really bought into fast fashion or fast beauty, I’ve always preferred to buy less but better quality, and I like classic styles that are more likely to last the test of time rather than shopping trends. However, it’s probably only when I became vegan four years ago that I started taking a really active interest in what ethics and sustainability really mean when it comes to what we consume, particularly fashion. There’s so much pressure to buy into fashion and beauty trends, and so much greenwashing as well, I think it’s really important to become as informed as possible as a consumer – and that’s something we focus on a lot at Immaculate Vegan too.
How do you go about choosing your Vegan brands?
We are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, so compassion and respect for our environment, animals and human beings are key values we look for.
Sustainability is also really important to us, and we set high standards. We want the materials or ingredients to be some of the best available and we choose brands that are either using or genuinely working towards the most sustainable supply chains, ways of working and product packaging. Sustainability is about so many things – materials, production processes, labor practices, packaging, shipping – and it’s hard for brands to be perfect in every area, but we pick brands that strive for the best there is.
And of course – and really importantly – quality is absolutely fundamental. We look for fashion and homeware brands that are creating beautifully designed items using the most luxurious animal-free materials; and when it comes to beauty we love brands using the best quality natural organic ingredients to create effective formulas that look great, feel great and really work.
Why did you choose Irene Forte Skincare?
We make sure we have personally tried all our beauty brands before deciding whether to sell them at Immaculate Vegan. I had already tried some of the Irene Forte Skincare range (including the Hibiscus Night Cream and Almond Eye Cream) and fell in love with them. They tick every box for me, from the outside in. Firstly, the brand story is strong, there’s a clear purpose and identity behind the brand that stands out, and that we know our customers will engage with. I love the simple, stylish packaging (which makes them great for gifting too), they smell incredible (which for me is a really important component), the formulas feel amazing when you apply them, and they are really effective. I’ve definitely seen a difference using the range.
What's the one (Vegan) beauty product you can't live without?
The Irene Forte Age-Defying Almond Eye Cream! It feels so gentle and soft, I adore the scent, and it works like no other eye cream I’ve tried.
What are you doing to celebrate World Vegan Day?
As a business, we’ll be publishing a range of content, including a new article by the brilliant Sascha Camilli on How to Transition to a Vegan Lifestyle, and a range of interviews throughout the month with people who inspire us. Our aim is to provide unbiased and clear informative content, as well as lots of inspiration and motivation for people to give it a go! On a personal level, I’ll be drinking vegan prosecco by Thomas & Scott and persuading my boyfriend to cook me a delicious vegan meal!
What does the future of the Vegan market look like?
Very exciting! We’ve already seen a real revolution taking place in plant-based eating, fuelled by ever-increasing concerns about the environment, animal welfare and human health – and COVID has only accelerated it. Vegan fashion and lifestyle are poised to be the next revolution, but it’s actually already begun. The global vegan women’s fashion market size is anticipated to reach USD 1,095.6 billion by 2027, with an average annual growth rate of 13.6%, outpacing even vegan food growth.
In order to meet that growing demand, we see new brands are launching every week, showcasing collections that make use of innovative alternatives to leather, wool, silk, fur, down and other animal products – from footwear, bags and accessories to clothing and homewares. So we're really excited to be right at the center of this!
What's your favorite Vegan meal?
Oh my god, so many! My partner makes an amazing cashew-based macaroni cheese, and he’s really perfected his green falafels this year, so it would probably be one of those.
What have you got in store for 2021?
We are only a year old, and we have very ambitious plans for the future! Our goal is to be the leading global vegan lifestyle platform, with a rich content offering alongside our store. We have already started creating much more content under our Features section, and we’ll expand this a lot next year. We are also working hard to expand our product categories and the brands we have in each category, including clothing, denim, activewear, nightwear and loungewear; we will expand our men’s offering; and we will expand our global brand offering, as we want our customers to be able to choose to shop more locally and regionally. I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead.