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  • Writer's pictureShenead Poroosotum

Five Top Sustainable Handbag Brands Taking Over The Industry

Climate change and global warming are the biggest problems that we face on a daily basis. From irresponsible ways of disposing waste and our huge power and water consumption, it’s time to say goodbye to being unethical and start trying to change the way we shop, as our current habits are damaging to the planet. Labelled as the biggest culprit to leaving behind colossal carbon footprints, the fashion industry is the most polluting industry in the world by producing products that are not made to last, to make you buy more.


Although fast fashion websites draw us in with their low prices for all sorts of clothing and accessories, it has a detrimental effect on the planet. A survey done in 2019 of 2,000 women in the UK found that respondents on average wore an item seven times, but some researchers found that some women wear an item only once because they don’t want to repeat an outfit in a photo that has been posted on social media. It’s time to start being smarter with our fashion choices because even though we might say “What will my impact do? I’m only one person.” hundreds and thousands of people are saying the exact same thing.


When looking at sustainable brands, they tend to focus on being good quality so that they last longer, whilst using materials and finishes that are kinder to the environment. By choosing sustainable brands you can help reduce waste as well as the amount that you might buy, saving you money in the long run. But we know that fashion is all about trends, so instead invest in timeless pieces that you can wear whenever you like. When we look at accessories such as handbags, more people are moving away from animal products such as snakeskin or leather as we become more environmentally conscious but also, switching to an ethical brand ensures that the products that you choose haven’t contributed to the use of sweatshops, child labour or slaughter of animals.


This article is to introduce to you some of my favourite ethical handbag brands that have taken the fashion world by storm and hopefully convert you to being a little more conscious when it comes to purchasing your next favourite purse.


Being one of the world’s most traded products, leather is a part of a staggering $80 billion industry, but its use of animal products and damaging chemicals make it a harder to keep producing because of its effect on the planet. With calls from animal rights activists and environmentalists to stop the slaughter of animals for leather, two entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez from Mexico think they might have the secret to producing the newest vegan alternative to leather: cactus.


Trademarked as Desserto®, their vegan cactus leather is a perfect substitute as its texture simulates animal leather, which they grow on their plantation in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. In terms of sustainability, performance and aesthetic, Desserto® products are partially biodegradable and have all the specifications that luxury leather goods would have in the fashion industry. With their aim to offer cruelty free products that are free from toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC, Desserto® handbags are for sure going to sell out as soon as they hit the market.

With their mission standing on three pillars of craftmanship, experimentation and progressivism, Nanushka strives to build a greener future with their products. This brand cherishes the planet with every fashion choice they make by exploring different ways to be as sustainable as possible. Creative Director Sandra Sandor puts immense thought into every item that sits on a foundation of functionality and practicality by creating timeless designs with conscious materials that can be worn day and night.


Nanushka choose their materials that directly impact the durability of the products, how they can be cared for and whether they become waste or can be recycled at the end of their use. They take into consideration all materials they have used in the past seasons to get a better understanding of where they are now and what they should change. Nanushka’s aim is to offer beautiful items whilst increasing the ratio of sustainability in each collection that comes out.

Designed in London and made in Greece, Mashu has vegan products and sustainability at the heart of their brand. By making it known that they’re built to last, Mashu promote beautiful and trendsetting bags with a strong consciousness towards creating products that are friendlier to the planet. By using materials from recycled polyester and plastic, they effectively reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 80% compared to the traditional petrol-based polyester process. All their products are recyclable at the end of their life with their handles made from wooden offcuts from a furniture company in Greece that would otherwise have been thrown or burned, creating a full circle in the economy.


Mashu also uses Piñatex which is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant which is usually discarded or burnt. By adding value to this waste, this also creates a new source of income for farming communities with the leftover biomass retained as a natural fertiliser or biofuel. There are so many other factors to Mashu’s production cycle which makes it such an amazing brand to invest in, plus their bags are absolutely gorgeous.

Matt & Nat wasn’t given their name just on a whim, this highly ethical brand that stands for Mat(t)erial & (Nat)ure promote well conscious means of production for their bags and advocate veganism on a regular basis. As well as producing practical bags, there are many factors to Mat & Nat bags which make it all the better for the environment, such as the bag linings are made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles, they constantly source cork and rubber for their products and use various vegan leathers, whilst improving the standards for their materials at the same time.


Matt & Nat not only care about the environment, but also about the people who work for them by building strong relationships with their factory workers, ensuring integrity every step of the way. They also encourage upcycling and recycling so if you have a bag that you haven’t used for a long time, it might be time to give it to someone who will, or if you think your Matt & Nat bag might have run its course, you can donate it to be made into a new one at www.dressforsuccess.org.

PETA-approved and vegan, Denise Roobol products keep planet earth in mind. Whilst on a quest to prove that vegan products can be both trendy and fashionable, Denise Roobol herself wants to be able to inspire women into making better lifestyle choices when it comes to sustainable fashion. All Denise Roobol products are made of a vegan Microfiber which is made from pressed fibers, with a strong coating to protect it from both sunlight and water to ensure its longevity. Whilst looking for alternatives to leather, Microfiber is the highest quality substitution that still retains the same suppleness and feeling but also, the material doesn’t need extra spraying or attention to be protected, ensuring a recyclable product at the end of its life.


Denise Roobol also takes into consideration the atelier where the bags are produced. A 3-hour drive from Hong Kong, Guangzhou is home to a BSCI-certified atelier where these beautiful bags are made by very experienced craftspeople that put time and attention in each product to deliver perfect results each time.


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