My favourite Bags and Jackets That Don't Cost a Life.
I may not be the most fashionable person but I still like myself a beautiful handbag, a great fitting jacket and shoes that help add some sass to my step. For over 15 years now I have not worn leather and in no way have I felt that it has let me down on the fashion front... rather I still get comments about my shoes or bags from people when I am out and they are not aware they aren't leather, confirming to me that you can avoid leather and still look good. There are a couple things to be aware of:
Non-leather products can (but not always!) wear out more quickly, which is why I often choose products now that come from perhaps a little more expensive brands, but that still last the time because of the materials they use. I care about not being a wasteful consumer as it is bad for the environment!
I had my last "pleather ( fake leather) jacket for over 10 years that I purchased from Dotti. It cost $39.95 which then goes against what I just said! So sometimes it is just about trial and error to see what works.... HOWEVER in that time I have become aware that some brands are more ethical than others when it comes to environmental and workers practises. I now try to shop from companies that are also doing their best of the environmental front....
I think you do the best you can but don't make it too stressful and we all start somewhere. If you are new to moving away from leather and just want to start their at a low cost point, you can always walk into one of the big chains like TopShop and they will often have faux-leather products. When you are ready, you can take the next step to sourcing ones from sustainable materials from a store that has ethical policies on the complete working chain from sourcing its materials, to workers rights, to plans for sustainability into the future.
Then there is a spectrum of what materials are used when considering any fashion. Leather has the down side of not only having to come from taking an animals life, but also tanning leather is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Toxic chemicals used cause environmental and human disasters, that I will cover more in other blogs but it is good to be aware of. So where to from there? PVCs are the plastic that was used but it is one of the worst for its impact on the world. The vegan fashion has now moved to PU, which is a much better version, but still has downsides. Some companies are wonderfully investing in ways they can make it from vegetable-based plastics rather than petroleum based and are having great success. Then you move to incredible innovation with bags made from Pinatex, which is “not-leather” made from the top of pineapples. My brother-in-law who is head of Design Australia was very impressed! Consumers and Designers are becoming more aware that our fashion choices are bigger than just how we look, which means we are leaning towards a whole redesign of the fashion industry.
Here are some of my favourites places to get bags and jackets (shoes will have to be another blog), with different price points to start the exploration of finding more ethical bags! It is a good place to start. If you are in Australia, for a wide-range of cruelty-free products, including many of the below check out the online store Neena, to reduce shipping costs.
High-end fashion, her products are beautiful but will cost you. I have had a couple pairs of her high heels and handbags in my wardrobe for over 10 years and they are still going strong. What Stella has done to speak out about cruelty-free fashion is amazing, and she has bags, shoes and jackets. ( Plus clothes if you are made of money!)
My everyday bag is from these guys and I love it. The quality and feel of these bags is really incredible and they last the test of time. Mid-range pricing plus free from sweat-shop manufacturing.
“Originally from South Korea, Roi and I found out that there were many boutique factories in Seoul, who we can work very closely. Each factory has less than 10 workers and they were highly skilled in handbag craftsmanship. Many raw material manufacturers were also based in Korea. I had to check out everything in person and build a relationship with these people. So, I flew to Korea to search for materials and factories to work with. Finally, with the right materials and great people, we were able to launch Angela Roi in 2013.”
With their standard price being $120 per bag, these guys can cater at the lower price point. Which obviously, we need to factor into our lives too, and we do what we can with what we have!
I love their range using the Pinatex leather. I haven’t personally had any of their products, I hear great reviews from friends. Made in Sydney.
They use vegan leather created with bio oil sourced from organic cereal crops grown in Northern Europe. Great satchel bags and wallets and belts for men ( and some of the best vegan mens shoes)
A jacket will cost you around $300 from these guys but they are beautiful and they are committed to sourcing sustainable materials and being conscious on all fronts of the making process.