Activist Amy Rebecca Wilde’s Vegan Womenswear Brand on Kickstarter

Amy Rebecca Wilde

We caught up with animal activist and vegan entrepreneur Amy Rebecca Wilde. She is the founder and owner of the Vegan Scene store in Los Angeles, CA, and the womenswear brand Legends & Vibes.

Not many know that you are the face behind the Vegans of Instagram account, and organized meetups across the United States. How did you get started and why was it important for you to set-up these events? Any events coming up?

I started the Vegans of Instagram account in early 2012. It was in the early days of Instagram, when there were hardly any vegan accounts. I started the account late one night just to connect with other vegans. I went vegan back in 2002, so I went a good seven or eight years without having any vegan friends. I really wanted to connect with the vegan community. At the time, I was also organizing protests for my organization Fur Free LA. Social media was a great tool to find fellow activists for my fur-free campaigns, so I thought it would be fun to host a meetup to bring together all of the local LA vegan instagramers. When I posted about the event, I got a ton of “host one in my city” comments. So I thought why not? So I cashed in all of my flyer points and booked a tour in from July-November 2013. I held meetups in San Diego, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Phoenix.

I had more cities that I had planned on hosting vegan meetups in, but unfortunately was in the same terminal as the LAX shooter on November 1, 2013. It was a really traumatic experience that left me with some pretty bad PTSD. I took me two years to get back on an airplane. I still get nervous traveling or being in confined public spaces, but I’m in a much better place now.

I miss exploring new cities and meeting new people. I’d love to pick things up again once I have time. I’m not sure when that will be exactly. I’ve been working seven days a week for a long time with my store Vegan Scene and clothing line Legends & Vibes. I don’t have much time for myself, but one day…

You are also the owner of Vegan Scene in Los Angeles, and the vegan and sustainable fashion line Legends & Vibes. How has the power of social media allowed you to grow your businesses?

Social media is a whole new way to connect with the community. It allows me to have one on one conversations with the community just like the one we’re having here.

What was the inspiration behind Legends & Vibes and what makes it different from the many vegan brands that are popping up?

You’re right that there are a lot of vegan brands popping up, but they’re mostly in the food space. The vegan fashion market as it stands is primarily vegan leather accessories, message wear, and ultra high end. It’s still wide open when it comes to ready to wear, vegan apparel. Vegan Scene is still the only exclusively vegan clothing boutique in Los Angeles. As a vegan boutique owner I struggled to find vegan fashion that not only met our ethical standards, but that our customers could afford. That’s when I knew we had to launch our own fashion line.

There’s a reason why there’s not a lot of vegan fashion brands out there. It is an incredibly expensive process. Apparel manufacturing takes a lot of resources. It requires a lot of people with a lot of different skill sets in order to get a garment produced. The startup costs are extremely expensive. Designers aren’t just faced with a lot of planning, they need to invest in a lot resources and labor before way before they’re able to get any sales.

The hefty price tag of fashion production and ingenuity makes it extremely difficult for small, innovative, and ethical fashion labels to breakthrough. It’s also why fast fashion brands cut as many corners as they can.

We’re really the first of our kind. We know that if we can do it right, more will follow. That’s exactly what’s needed to make vegan fashion the future.

Legends & Vibes

Tell us about your Kickstarter. How do you plan on becoming one of the first vegan and sustainable brands available in-stores nationwide? 

Kickstarter is a terrific way to raise funding and reach new people. This Kickstarter is the first step in our plan to begin sustainably scaling and increasing our production runs. Sustainable scaling is referring to both our growth as a business and our environmental practices. I’m in this for the long run, so I want to make sure that we build a strong foundation that is socially responsible and will last.

Increasing our production runs and our consumer base is the first step to take our line to wholesale. With wholesale, we can get our product into more retailers. We are looking for a mix of small local boutiques and big-box retailers that understand and see the value in carrying brands that carry socially responsible brands with a mission. By diversifying our retailers, we can reach a wider audience and expose more people to vegan fashion.

We don’t want to be the first and only. We want to inspire change, lead a movement, and make a real impact. The only reason being the first is important is the doors that it opens up for other vegan fashion brands.

We are curious, how do you keep your price points so low?

I wouldn’t go as far as to call our price points low. That makes it sound like our styles are cheap, and that is not what we’re trying to do here. To be clear, we are *not* trying to compete with fast fashion prices, but we are trying to make our styles affordable. We aim to keep all of our styles under $150, making sure that our styles reflect quality materials and craftsmanship, as well as a fair and living wage.

We have become so accustomed to cheap fast fashion that the knee jerk reaction to a lot of ethical fashion that reflects both quality and fair wages is “why is this so expensive?” When I hear that, I know we as an industry need to do better in being transparent about our prices. What we also need to be asking is, “why is this so cheap?” Most prices leave next to nothing in their margins to reflect wages. Our prices also reflect clothing that’s made to last.

Fast fashion is basically fast food. As consumers, we’ve started to look beyond immediate gratification and think about the long term effects of fast food. So let’s do that with fashion. If cheap clothes don’t fit well and only last a few rounds in the wash, that doesn’t seem very cost effective or sustainable to me?

Yet, over the years we’ve started to see a shift at the consumer level. As long as we keep being open about what fashion really costs, and educating our consumer base about where those numbers come from, I think we will then begin to see a shift in what consumers expect out of fashion brands. It’s already starting to happen, but it is at the very beginning.

How do we keep our prices affordable? We are simply budget conscious throughout the entire process. We make practical design decisions at every level to make sure that we are delivering beautifully made garments that won’t break the bank.

Where can we find you online?

We’re online at VeganScene.com and LegendsAndVibes.com. All of our social accounts are @veganscene and @legendandvibes.  You can check out our Kickstarter, here.

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