For those of you trying to shop in a more ethical and sustainable manner, but who don’t know where to start, we’ve rounded up 11 of our favourite handbag labels that all operate using eco-friendly processes.
Whether you’re in the market for a summery straw tote, a classic faux-leather cross-body, or an elegant bucket bag, here are the brands that let you shop with a clear conscience.
If you want to make a statement and be sustainable at the same time, then this brand will be right up your street. 0711 Tbilisi is a label aiming to reinvent the classic handbag by combining natural materials, traditional hand weaving and contemporary design.
Founded by friends Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia, the brand combines a love of nature with passion for statement pieces. The entire business is based in Georgia, which gives the founders greater control over materials, suppliers and the entire production process.
Each hand-woven bag is created manually by artisans, who are all elderly women for whom knitting is native, a craftsmanship passed down from ancestors – and, since 2015, they have adopted an innovative knitting technique using organic glass and plywood frames.
Friday By JW Pei
Friday By JW Pei is a brand that is dedicated to creating elegant products that don’t compromise on style, sustainability or ethics. Whether it’s a glossy cross-body, a chic belt bag or a colourful bucket you’re after, there’s something for everyone in the collection.
The label specialises in vegan leather and uses high-quality canvas, polyurethane and certified fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles to make its handbags. What’s more, 10 per cent of the brand’s profits are donated to animal sanctuaries around the world, and the label is also dedicated to providing excellent working conditions for employees.
Kayu bags are made entirely by hand in limited quantities by artisans in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. The brand aims to preserve and cultivate the traditional crafts that surrounded the designer, Jamie Lim, as a child – and that have been passed down through generations. Due to the attention to detail, each piece takes around two days to complete, but once ready they make the perfect summertime accessory.
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No two Nannacay pieces are the same, as each is carefully constructed by hand, so you know your accessory will be unique. The collections are filled with traditional straw, string and canvas designs, all given very modern updates. The development, colour standardisation and quality control is co-ordinated by founder Marcia Kemp herself, who loves to lend her expertise to the local community in Peru. Much more than a fashion brand, it also serves as a bridge between those in need and people able to help.
Hereu’s leather bags celebrate the folk traditions and the art and culture of the Spanish Mediterranean. The brand works with skilled local craftspeople and artisans in Barcelona, with “the individual hand of an artisan” being the starting point for each design. The label’s instantly recognisable top-handled, cut-out leather tote is a great starting point for your sustainable handbag collection.
Fast becoming a favourite with the London street-style set are Paradise Row’s sweet and kooky ‘Empathy’ bags, which feature facial expressions embellished across them. The company was founded two years ago to help revive East London craftsmanship and give something back to the local community. The area was once renowned for its thriving textile industry, but now has only a handful of leather workshops left. This inspired the founders to revive the spirit of the area with their new company, which is already making waves across the capital.
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Edun is a label that is dedicated to creating high-end fashion, while encouraging trade in Africa and sourcing sustainable materials. This means that not only are the designs chic and fashion forward, but many of the materials used are unique; examples include faux leather made from pineapple fibres and a vegan tote created from barkcloth, an ancient craft of the Baganda people who live in southern Uganda.
Each Alienina piece is handmade and unique, using a vast variety of unexpected materials, such as sailing and mountain climbing cords, wicks for oil lamps, resin used in car parts, or straps used for blinds. Around 80 per cent of the materials are production waste, washable and non-toxic. The techniques used are inspired by old traditional crafts, which the designer then reimagines in a contemporary, modern way.
Originally launched as a men’s denim brand, Simon Miller has now expanded to include womenswear and is behind the now-cult bucket bag. The brand reduces environmental impact and conserves water by using organic mills and ozone technology in its production.
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Ethical and sustainable handbag brand Mashu is known for its elegant top-handled, leather-look bags, which are all carefully crafted from recycled polyester and plastic.
Through their processes, CO2 emissions are reduced by 80 per cent compared to traditional petrol-based polyester production process. The brand has also started to experiment with natural fibres such as Pinatex, a leather alternative made from pineapple leaves. All of the materials used are 100 per cent recyclable at the end of their life and the products are handmade in Greece.
Edas is a New York-based brand that offers unique jewellery and bags created out of recycled materials and sustainable fabrics. It is one of the many labels stocked on Noa Vee, an online sustainable fashion hub, where you can shop trend-hitting items while being eco-friendly in the process.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.