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Earth Day has arrived, and with it a renewed focus on what to do to reduce our impact on the planet.
When it comes to making a positive switch, ditching luxury leather handbags for a synthetic alternative is an easy first step.
Leather shoes, bags and jackets are responsible for nearly seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than synthetic alternatives, reports Circumfauna, an initiative founded by Collective Fashion Justice to bypass animal inputs in the fashion industry.
They also found that the production of one cow leather tote requires the same amount of water someone would drink over almost 24 years - 14 times more than synthetics.
The following brands are proof that it’s possible to buy products that are sustainable, cruelty-free, and have not skimped on the chic. Time to join the revolution.
The brand founded in 2003 by the Taiwanese born and Californian living designer Melissa Song offer sleek styles without hefty price tags, and has been PETA approved as 100 per cent vegan. In nearly two decades, options have expanded to include everything from small crossbody wallets to large woven tote sacks, so there really is an option for everyone.
meliebianco.com, bags from £35
The problem with vegan ‘leather’ is that so often it just doesn’t look like, well, leather. Which is why we were excited to discover New York handbag brand JW Pei, whose products look every bit as luxurious as the real thing. The super stylish bags are all made from 100 per cent vegan leather and lined using 100 per cent recycled material. The brand only works with factories that are certified by GRS (Global Recycling Standards) and the Oeko-Tex Standard and with every purchase, and have even introduced a whole Earth Day collection.
jwpei.com, bags from £39
Using high-tech vegan leather and suede created in factories outside Hong Kong, Roobol - a the Willem de Kooning Design Academy in Rotterdam - creates PETA-approved minimalist bags that blend high fashion with function. Her designs recall the clean lines of Furla and the boxy cuteness of Sophie Hulme, and feel every bit as fashionable as their non-vegan counterparts.
deniseroobol.com, bags from £50
Often, concious creditials are concentrated on and being fashion forward becomes the afterthought withultra ethical labels. Not so for Mashu. This Greek brand was set up in 2017 by Ioanna Topouzoglou to bring craft and carefully considered design to conscious design. Pop colour bags which come with gild gold finishes are made in Athens by local artisans with an aim to help the community too.
mashu.co.uk, bags from £165
Designed by Angela Roi in New York and made by a team of skilled artisans in Korea, these bags are a premium, modern and sustainable take on designer classics. The EPUL (Exquisite Polyurethane Leather) used in production is processed multiple times in order to attain a softness and smoothness of texture akin to traditional leather.
angelaroi.com, bags from £85
Stella McCartney bills her eponymous brand as “vegetarian,” meaning she does not use leather, skins, fur or feathers in any of her products. Her bags and accessories use a blend of organic and synthetic fibres with vegetable coatings, and are all at least 70 per cent handmade. The brand’s Falabella handbag became an instant “It” bag when it launched in 2010 and, in a show of serious sartorial staying power, is now arguably the most popular non-leather handbag style of all time.
stellamccartney.com, bags from £340
Matt & Natt
Standing for Material and Nature, this Canadian accessories brand uses two vegan leathers - PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride) - to make its understated, stylish bags and shoes. The lining of each bag is constructed from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles, with approximately 21 bottles used to make each bag. Aesthetically it’s all tonal colours and clean lines - think Mansur Gavriel, minus the price tag.
mattandnat.com, bags from £55