Before I was vegan I really enjoyed buying designer handbags.
My favourite was a Mulberry number made from darwin leather. As soon as I decided to cut out all animal products, I handed it over to my sister (who delightedly told me I ‘could be vegan anytime‘).
But when you start to look at leather production the fabric quickly becomes extremely undesirable. Animals are brutally slain for their skin, and the process of tanning the hide is both environmentally unfriendly and dangerous for the workers who do it, and are exposed to carcinogenic chemicals.
Until recently, the production of leather alternatives was also very hard on the planet, and while there’s still some way to go, production methods are improving all the time.
Also improving is the design of these products. One of my favourite brands is Matt and Nat. According to the founders: “From the start, being committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials in our designs felt natural to us. Each season, we continue to explore new innovative ways to remain sustainable and eco-friendly. Over the years, we’ve been experimenting with different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. Since 2007, we’ve been committed to using linings only made out of 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. We have also recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to our collections.”
I recently picked up a few handbags from the company: my favourite is pictured above. This is a really good mini-tote style shopper, with just one inside pocket and a surprising amount of space inside. The colour is called simply ‘grey’ but as a warm grey it’s slightly more taupe-y. I feel like I can carry loads in here – as well as being spacious, the handles are really secure – so it is practical as well classic in design.
Matt and Nat bags are pretty pricey with the larger bags retailing at over £100, but with the eco-credentials of the range, as well as the attention to detail, and quality craftsmanship, it is worth investing if you enjoy accessories.