Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability


5 Sustainable Vegan Purses & Handbags Under $100

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affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100
For some reason, I always get the urge to change my handbag in the fall.

It's probably the back-to-school scheduling that's been reinforced since kindergarten, but I also think it has something to do with pre-winter nesting. "Get your act together, Leah. The cold days will soon be here."

There are a lot of ethical brands that sell beautiful, vegetable tanned leather handbags, but honestly, I'm trying to get away from new leather goods for both environmental and ethical reasons. I recently befriended a shoemaker who gave me some pretty startling information about the nature of leather and its relationship to the meat industry and read this post on child labor by my friend, Tavie, and it made me realize that if I'm serious about conservation and ethics, I need to do more to reduce the use of animal products in my life. (The shoemaker will be featured in an interview next month, so I'll let her fill you in on the details later).

There's also an issue with PVC and PU fake leathers since they're derived from crude oil and not biodegradable.

The bags - and brands - in this roundup are made with minimal leather (only one has a leather strap) and either renewable or zero waste, upcycled resources. They prove that it's possible to create a sturdy statement piece while prioritizing labor ethics and sustainability.

5 Places to Find Sustainable + Vegan Handbags

affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100

1 | gr├╝nBAG

The Story: A company that takes upcycling seriously, grunBAG makes backpacks and purses out of recycled lifeboats, banners, sails, and industrial tarps used in the trucking industry. Since these textiles have already been weather proofed, they are perfect for go-anywhere bags. Learn more here ☞

The Bag: The A-Bag in Green is made with surplus tarp used to cover trucks, and has a nice fold-over style that allows you to load it up with souvenirs, notepads, or whatever else you may find yourself carrying throughout the day. I especially like it for travel since it's water proof.

The Price Point: $75-200

affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100

2 | Malia Designs

The Story: A longtime favorite - my sister and I both already owned Malia Designs' bags and my mom has a wallet - Malia Designs makes bags out of recycled cement and feed bags + classic screen printed canvas, paying a fair wage to artisans in Cambodia and giving back to anti-trafficking organizations in both Cambodia and the US. Learn more here

The Bag: The Blue Dragon Bag is made from a cement bag, lined in cotton, and full of storage pockets, perfect for holding a cell phone (or your pet rat - I'm holding my rat, Rosemary, here).

The Price Point: Most products under $50

affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100

3 | Mother Erth

The Story: Mother Erth makes artful handbags out of discarded plastic laminated foil from the packaged food industry. Women artisans in the Philippines are paid over 3x the standard wage, and don't have to relocate from rural villages in order to make a living. Learn more here ☞

The Bag: While Mother Erth also produces more neutral, minimalistic designs, I really wanted to photograph a bright piece that showcases the raw materials. This multi-color Top Handle Bag features sustainably sourced rattan handles, a recycled woven body, and an open silhouette.

The Price Point: $85 and under

affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100

4 | Ten Thousand Villages

The Story: Credited with launching the fair trade movement as we know it, Ten Thousand Villages works with hundreds of artisan partners, providing fair wages while offering innovative, artisanal goods that make great gifts. Learn more here

The Bag: The Essential Companion Tote is a spacious, structured bag woven with palm leaves and finished with sturdy leather straps (this is the one leather item featured). A reviewer on the site says she's had her bag for 10 years and it still looks new! So far, I've used mine to store items for photo shoots and to carry books. Ten Thousand Villages has lots of fully vegan options, too.

The Price Point: Varies, but most are under $100

5 | EcoVibe Apparel

The Story: EcoVibe specializes in fashion forward, affordable clothing and accessories made with ethical labor and/or sustainable fibers. Their items are well curated and always contain special details that set them apart. Learn more here ☞

The Bag: The Natural Cork Clutch (with a detachable strap) was handmade in Portugal with sustainably harvested cork and costs $112.

The Price Point: $80+


affordable sustainable vegan handbags under $100

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