Quality control laboratory AMSlab has expanded its AMSvegan testing kit, which verifies the absence of products of animal origin in clothing, footwear, and accessories labelled under the vegan standard.

The latest addition uses a new analysis methodology to test if a piece of clothing has been treated with carmine, a red dye made from crushed lice and other cochineal insects.

The biotechnology company markets the tests in collaboration with the PETA animal rights organisation. Companies can use the kit to prove that their products fulfil all the criteria for bearing the 'PETA-Approved Vegan' logo.

AMSlab's new test uses mass spectrometry to check whether the concentration of red colour exceeds a certain limit – if it does, it means that the colour is of animal origin and the clothing has not just come into contact with carmine red in the production process, for example by being produced in the same factory. 

Companies can currently use the AMSvegan test kit on textiles and footwear, and the laboratory plans to expand its use to the cosmetics industry. 

More than 1,000 fashion brands and designers around the world, including Topshop, have certified products or collections with the PETA-Approved Vegan logo since it was introduced in 2013.

Veganism is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice for many people, with the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupling between 2014 and 2019, according to The Vegan Society.

Yet alongside the growing popularity of vegan fashion – and the considerable opportunity it presents for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers – there are a number of issues brands and retailers must consider before declaring products as "vegan."

Classing a product as vegan can be a complex process as it not only rules out using leather, wool and natural silk (which comes from the silkworm), but also many glues, dyes and chemicals derived from animals. 

Earlier this year the British Retail Consortium (BRC) issued new guidelines to help retailers and brands source vegan fashion products, setting out steps and questions to ask both internally and of suppliers when purchasing products that claim to be free from animal-derived materials.

German luxury fashion brand Hugo Boss has launched its first animal-free men's suit, certified with the PETA-Approved Vegan logo. While fashion retailer Primark has received the Vegan Certification mark from German inspection services group TÜV Rheinland for fashion products; and UK fashion retailer New Look has registered ranges with The Vegan Society's Vegan Trademark.