Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart wearing soy knit sweater. Photo by Eva Qin
Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is Founder & President of Vaute Couture, the first and only winter coat line on the market that is at once warm enough for below freezing weather, chic, and vegan. It also uses cutting edge weatherproof recycled and recyclable fabrics and local construction. She spent a year developing the line including 8 months of fabric research, and uses custom fabrics that take 3 months to produce, for a total of a 5 month production schedule. The line is currently self and community funded, and the first season’s production run was entirely funded by customer preorders.
Leanne has been vegan since she was 17 and vegetarian since age 10, her background is not in fashion but in activism and start-ups, as she has been advocating for animals since she was 8 years old and helped push a bill into law at 17 for dissection alternatives in IL schools. She has been named 1 of 40 Redefining Green (Grist.org), 1 of 8 Brilliant Eco Entrepreneurs (VegNews Magazine), and 1 of 7 Best New Green Designers (Ecouterre), Vaute Couture has been named Company of the Year (VegNews Magazine), Best Fashion Company (Peta2), and the Vaute Coat named 1 of 22 Best Coats (Chicago Magazine), and Winner of the Polartec Apex Design Award (Polartec- award shared with North Face, Patagonia, and others.) The label has been featured in Marie Claire Magazine, on Oprah.com and Vegan Fashion: Compassionate Couture , on FOX TV’s Bones, and on TeenVogue.com.
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