According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the leather tanning industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world, while livestock production is the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, more than planes, trains and cars combined.
With animal welfare and the environment up for question with traditional leather, more and more brands are turning to vegan leather as a way to help create a more sustainable future and lessen their environmental impact.
Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, but it can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials such as cork, fruit waste, and even recycled plastic, which comes at a much more wallet-friendly price compared to real leather. Here are 7 vegan handbags labels you should consider adding to your wardrobe.
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MATT & NAT
Matt & Nat, which stands for mat(t)erial and nature, was founded in 1995 in Montreal, Canada. Inspired by the textures and hues of nature, the brand is committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials in their designs. Each season, they continue to explore new innovative ways to remain sustainable and eco-friendly. Over the years, they’ve experimented with different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. In 2007, they Matt & Nat committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles and they have recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to their collections.
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Founded by a husband and wife duo in Los Angeles, JW PEI is an accessories brand that believes that the future of fashion should be ethical and sustainable. Utilising high quality sustainable vegan materials such as canvas, polyurethane, and certified fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, JW PEI seeks to celebrate feminine beauty and strength through their fun and creative designs.
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HOZEN, which means conservation in Japanese, was founded in 2018 out of a commitment to respecting and protecting the planet. The brainchild of designer Rae Nicoletti, who studied leatherwork under Hermés master artisan Beatrice Amblard, the vegan accessories brand strongly believes that doing good can—and should—look as incredible as it feels. Every bag is crafted from eco-friendly, plant-based leathers, post-consumer recycled plastic zippers and thread, natural rubber and remnant rope, recycled cotton labels, and recycled paper packaging and hang tags, all of which are sourced from factories around the world with high standards of ethics, responsibility and governance.
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Melie Bianco is a Los Angeles based, cruelty and ethically made handbag line that believes in quality, craftsmanship and in doing their part to make a difference. Every one of their premium vegan leather handbags are sculpted with love in a cruelty free, animal friendly environment, using fair trade principles. In order to remain animal friendly, Melie Bianco uses a material called PU (Polyurethane), which is crafted using natural materials to have the look and feel of real leather without the harmful side effects of cheap plastic materials like PVC.
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Founded in 2014, Alexandra K specialises in vegan and environmentally friendly handbags and accessories. Each bag is made in Poland, from innovative fabrics that are not only vegan, but also their production is organic and safe for the planet. In fact, Alexander K is one of only a handful of brands in the world who use apple, pineapple, corn leather and many other vegetable fabrics in their collections. The brand has also been certified by PETA as an Approved Vegan and Fur Free Retailer.
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Australian designer Poppy Lissiman started her namesake label in 2008. In 2014, she decided to re-launch her label exclusively as an accessories brand, starting off with her street style famous clutch bags before expanding into sunglasses. All of Lissiman’s designs are handmade, and her collection of handbags and wallets are proudly made using only vegan (or faux leather) products. They are also cruelty free do not feature any animal parts.
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Founded by Vicki von Holzhausen — she began her career in the automotive industry working as a designer for luxury automotive brands including Audi and Mercedes-Benz — Von Holzhausen offers sustainable, timeless and easy-to-wear bags and accessories for both men and women. All of the brands products are crafted from Tecknik–Leather, a 100 percent animal free and sustainable leather alternative that maintains the look and feel of real leather, but without the negative environmental impact. All of their bags are also lined with microfibre made from 100 percent recycled plastic water bottles.