Here are the stories of some of our designers of luxury vegan bags
Alexandra, a mother, fashionista, vegan and entrepreneur, started her company because, like many of us, she could not find a beautifully designed and well made vegan bag that did not cost two thousand dollars. Based in Poland, she is an up and coming designer who won the PETA Fashion Award for Best Handbag Design in Germany in 2014.and received PETA certification. Her bags are made from high quality PolyUrethane, microsuede interior and organic cottons, with an Italian frame. Each Alexanra K handbag is completely handmade in Alexandra’s studio (not a factory), they take a few days to make and one person is in charge of crafting the handbag from start to finish,. Every piece comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty and many of the models come with a custom plate stating “This bag is Animal Cruelty Free and Vegan”. Each boasts a unique serial number hand engraved on the front plaque.
Inspired by her Pacific Northwest roots and the energy of American cities, Crystalyn Brennan designs custom handbags for women with a grounded and global sense of style. Crystalyn’s first encounter with the magic of unconventional style began with her grandfather Jack, who had his own unique style of mixing fabrics and colours. Some 20 years later, she used the same plaid pants and vintage floral fabric in her first collection. Crystalyn leads design and production for Crystalyn Kae handbags, drawing inspiration from quality vintage fabrics and rich color palettes, with emphasis on style and function. From her workshop in Brooklyn, she personally oversees the hand crafting of her bags, produced from ethically sourced and reclaimed materials. Crystalyn Kae products are available in over 40 specialty boutiques, in the USA and globally, and have been featured in InStyle, Women's Health, Lucky, Yoga Journal, and more.
Elizabeth Roque of Rok Cork has been developing her designs in cork since discovering the amazing craftmanship in cork in her home country of Portugal, around the area of Sintra. Astounded by the versatility of the material, she determined to embark on a journey to promote Portugal abroad, provide economic growth and bring something beautiful to mainstream fashion by creating extraordinary products from the natural beauty and sustainability of cork. She designs each piece with an eye to what women need and appreciate in a well made handbag. Her mission is to bring classic shapes to life with playful colours and textures season after season, never compromising on quality or functionality. Taking instruction from her father, a shoemaker since the age of 12, she ensures that materials are of the highest quality available in the market, and ethically sourced and manufactured in line with social responsibility, creating honest and sustainable employment opportunities for local artisans. She applies some of her profits to charities such as WWF and centres for battered women and children's hospitals.
Founded in 2009, NOAH offers fashionable, high-quality vegan shoes and bags produced in limited numbers in Italy by small companies that guarantee fair working conditions. Materials used are resistant to scratch and wear, non-toxic, partly recycled and recyclable. NOAH shoes are produced according to high quality standards of the finest Italian handcraft, combining tradition and innovation. Thanks to a careful selection and a constant supervision of the manufacturers, Noah guarantees that the production takes place in compliance with the current regulations for the protection of workers. Materials selected are among the most sustainable and resistant available on the market and are non-toxic and hypoallergenic. No leather is used in the production of any of Noah products. The glue used is water based and does not contain animal ingredients and no animal-based products are used during the manufacturing process.
GUNAS is the brainchild of designer and animal lover, Sugandh G. Agrawal, who started the company in 2009. She is a life-long vegetarian and now vegan who felt disturbed by the disconnect between her eating and fashion choices. Her message is clear, animals are not meant to be a part of fashion, and it is possible to look and feel good without harming other living beings. Sugandh quit her 7-year corporate career as an Industrial designer at KitchenAid to start her own cruelty-free fashion company in New York. She offers a wide range of styles and makes bags to suit every mood and lifestyle. GUNAS claims to be the first American designer brand of 100% vegan and stylish handbags. Its production started using small factories in the heart of Manhattan's Fashion district and then shifted to small home run workshops of manufacturers around the globe. It now sources manufacturing from several different countries working with artisans from USA, India, South Korea, Portugal and Italy and claims to be 100% sweatshop-free.
Christina Bussman Otte received her diploma as a fashion designer in Florence. After a period as a costume fitter and designer for film and theatre in Berlin, she moved with her family to the island of Mallorca where she started to manufacture unique bags, initially in leather, starting her own label in 2014. Over time she realized the need for more sustainably produced bags and alternatives for vegans. She has developed a range of bags made from pineapple fibres to address that need.
DiOsA handbags are handmade in the EU by a traditional Spanish family business specialised in bagmaking, using the highest quality materials. DiOsA uses only non-animal and animal suffering-free materials to be sustainable, environmental and conserve resources. Through chic, innovative design, it aims to bring sexiness to a conscious lifestyle, saying that kindness to fellow living beings and the environment need not involve any compromise on style. DiOsA handbags are subtle and elegant for the conscious woman, its designs not dependent on the seasons. They are hardwearing and an investment in long-lasting style. The DiOsA buyer is expressing her values of love, fairness, consciousness, sustainability, quality, sex appeal, self-awareness and joy of life.
Wilby is the brainchild of Jamie Bolton-Debbage & Lucy Housmann who originally formed the company as Wilby Clutch, anticipating to make a vegan fashion range specialising in clutch bags. These were to be animal free products that are certified for legitimacy as well as being eco sensitive and environmentally aware. Wilby uses organic and eco friendly materials when possible such as organic cotton and lining, recyclable cloth, eco friendly backing and cork leather. Wilby aims to be the UKs premier vegan and sustainable accessories brand. Business manager Jamie is passionate about the environment and was at the forefront of the World Land Trust tree planting campaign. Head Designer Lucy is motivated more by veganism and opposing cruelty to animals. Their Bailey black saddlebag won the Independent Handbag Designer Awards for the Best Green Handbag in 2017.
Ina Koelln creates products that are simple yet detailed, made in small numbers in European factories. Favouring slow fashion, it uses high-quality, natural and sustainably produced materials.The brand combines unrivalled aesthetics with fairness and transparency, fashion without compromise.The minimalist designs each have an individual character, made from materials that are soft and easy on the skin. All products combine strong design with environmental and social responsibility.
American Matt Simpson arrived in Kosrae, Micronesia, in 2008 as a young volunteer teacher at the local high school. Matt, a keen surfer, didn't want to leave when his contract was up and realized that there were very few businesses on the island, and even fewer export products. Most of his former students were either unemployed, or working in the US for minimum wage. So Matt created Green Banana Paper. Matt had no previous paper-making experience before he founded the company: he has learnt everything from Google and YouTube. He had all the equipment custom made and shipped to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Through creating Green Banana Paper, Matt has provided:
- 16 Full-Time Jobs created providing a livelihood supporting over 100 people.
- 75+ Farmers earn extra income from banana trees that would otherwise be waste.
- Community-based resources belonging to the people.
- Reviving traditional skills and knowledge in weaving and rope-twisting.
- Given the island something to be proud of and global publicity
Fantome is the family business of the Burke's, based in Bordeaux, France, whose aim is to create beautiful well-made articles from recycling materials..It specialises in recuperating the already used inner tubes of bicycle tyres without the use of glue to create articles as close to zero waste as possible. They believe in no cruelty to animals and their entire collection is vegan. All goods are made at their workship in France, with parts for assembly made from the closest manufacturers in Europe. All pieces are made in small limited edition numbered series, and each are individual, since the source material of inner tubes will always have small differences, such as makers marks. Each member of the family plays a role in the business, with mother Michèle in charge of the manufacture, Jennie, the daughter, the stylist and designer, son Steven in charge of graphic design and father Charles the father responsable for obtaining the source materials, and business management.
EcoCork reflects the national sentiment of Portugal, its culture, landscape, food, art, architecture, language, as well an appreciation for the simple beauty of Portuguese design itself. Its products are handmade, high quality products made exclusively in Portugal from hand cut soft cork 'leather', a natural, sustainable renewable resource.
FruitenVeg is an accessories label based in NYC, specializing in whimsical handbags both fun and practical. With playful combinations of exotic faux leather, fluffy faux fur, unique prints, colors and textures, it challenges the traditional materialistic concept of luxury goods. Color is used vibrantly and adventurously to produce statement pieces that complete a uniquely fun and fashion forward look. Its non-leather bags bring a fresh angle to the exotics and fur bags niche, demonstrating that luxury bags don’t have to be made out of leather. By mixing high end craftsmanship with quality hardware, precise design and interesting materials, it creates a surprisingly fresh alternative.