Staff profile: Exploring vegan fashion with Dr Rachel Lamarche-Beauchesne

Dr Rachel Lamarche-Beauchesne

In the growing field of vegan fashion, Dr. Rachel Lamarche, MA PhD, is a true thought leader.

Having studied and worked in fashion enterprise and marketing around the world, she is now a senior lecturer at Torrens University where she shares her extensive knowledge and experience with students of the Bachelor of Branded Fashion Design and the Bachelor of Fashion Marketing and Enterprise. 

Backed by qualifications in fashion business and arts management, Dr Rachel Lamarche-Beauchesne has closely examined the relationship between veganism and fashion consumption. Rachel lectures, and is a frequent guest speaker on topics of fashion merchandising, sustainability in fashion, fibres and textiles, ethical consumer movements, fashion marketing, entrepreneurship, social marketing and market research – sharing her extensive knowledge across the industry.

She worked as a stylist in Montreal, Canada, and in public relations at luxury fashion house Stella McCartney in New York and Paris before moving to Australia in 2013.

Here, learn more about Rachel’s experience in the industry and what she thinks about the future of vegan fashion.

Research and teaching in Fashion Enterprise

Rachel became a researcher and lecturer out of sheer passion for learning, as well as a lifelong interest in fashion enterprise.

“I often say that if I could spend the rest of my life learning and taking university courses, I would,” she says. “Both teaching and research feel a bit like that sometimes; you are researching and investigating interesting and important problems or knowledge gaps, while you are learning and consuming new information and content that will make your teaching relevant and interesting. I found the perfect space to be learning continuously!”

She believes her research is doing new things for how we, individually and as a society, understand materials and objects, and is casting new light on our relationships with our possessions.

“While there is a lot of research on objects changing meaning as our tastes change, there is a lot less research on how the meanings of objects themselves can become the reason why we don’t want to use them anymore,” she says.

Being at the intersection of fashion, sustainability and marketing in general is a unique combination which allows her to be agile and explore various new areas of interest.

“I’ve branched outside of my research, which is really mainly focused on the consumption behaviours of vegan consumers, to investigate all other areas of veganism within the market,” she says. “Material innovation and branding are big interests of mine, as well as the role of vegan branding, brands using vegan certifications, the development of vegan brands – I’m interested in all of those facets.”

The future of vegan fashion

Rachel decided to focus her studies on vegan fashion because of her own veganism. She has been vegan for more than 14 years now and back in 2019 she started to question how that translated beyond the way she ate.

“I started to observe that while vegan food guidelines are clear, the vegan community has a difficult relationship with fashion because of the very nature of fashion products, and how they can be acquired in many different ways, such as purchasing them new or second-hand, or even hand-me-downs or garments that have nostalgia and memories attached to them,” she says. “It was this awareness that made me want to do a PhD and try to understand this phenomenon.”

While she has seen the popularity of vegan fashion rise in the last decade, she’s also aware of the negative aspects of the conversation – something which plays an important part in her research.

“I think that the discourse around vegan fashion has definitely been an important part of both the popularity but also the negativity around vegan fashion over recent years,” she says.

“While there are a lot of fantastic innovations in materials such as Desserto (cactus-based leather replacement), Vegea (grape-based leather) and Mirum (a bio-based leather replacement), there is a narrative that continuously resurfaces on the toxicity and negative environmental impact of “vegan” leather. This is a narrative that has only arisen with the growth of the vegan label, as shoes made of leather replacement materials have actually been around since the early 1900s.”

She firmly believes that vegan fashion is overall beneficial to the environment, but she is equally interested in the moral and ethical issues around choosing fashion that doesn’t use any animal products.

“There are a lot of benefits that vegan fashion brings to the environment, especially if they are part of a greater shift away from animal agriculture, which is one of the most polluting industries – not unlike the fashion industry itself.

“However, it is not only from an environmental perspective that I approach this subject, but also from a moral and ethical perspective. Additionally, to me, the greatest impact that vegan fashion has on the environment is in prompting for new material innovations. This is arising to meet the market demand of materials which divest from materials like PU and PVC. We are still looking for material innovation that has a straightforward end of life, and I think that this will be the key to continuous growth within that space.”

Rachel sees sustainability playing a bigger part in the future of fashion, but she acknowledges the gap between what most consumers want and what sustainability researchers are currently providing.

“I think that we need to find a way to keep fashion exciting and creative and fun, but the industry needs to rethink its relationship with materials, investing in ways to reuse them or break them apart more effectively,” she says. “It’s not simply about degrowth; that, to me, is a simplistic approach. But we cannot continue to produce with no end-of-life solutions. As such, that’s where we need to invest our energy, in my opinion.”

Fashion Marketing Senior Lecturer at Torrens University

Rachel joined Torrens University as Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing and Enterprise at Torrens University Australia in January 2024.

“I think it is an innovative university, which is growing rapidly because of its value proposition,” she says. “Yet we are still smaller, which means you get a lot more direct contact with students, which can be very rewarding. Importantly, students can tailor their studies to their specific field of interest, whether that is vegan fashion, digital fashion, luxury, ready-to-wear or others.

“The relationships I get to build with the students, and how I can mentor them and try to help them find entry level roles within the industry once they have completed or are nearing completion. We can help people make their dreams come true, or even discover their dream fashion careers, and that is very gratifying.”

She offers a few pieces of advice to students who are keen to combine their passions for veganism and fashion.

“I would say two things to students who are passionate about veganism and wanting to pursue a career in fashion. The first one is to find multiple businesses you would dream to work for (or maybe launch your own?),” she advises. “That will make your objectives clearer, and will give you a lot of focus while you undertake your studies. My second tip is to get a lot of good data to support your position, and come at every discussion with an educated and well-reasoned approach if you are met with pushback.”

Dr Rachel Lamarche-Beauchesne, MA, PhD is available to provide further commentary and insights on vegan fashion upon enquiry. If you would like to organise an interview, ;please contact

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