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From garbage to catwalk: What is an ethical handbag anyway?

22nd April 2015

From garbage to catwalk: What is an ethical handbag anyway? 


Whether it’s an over-the-shoulder, tote or clutch, a handbag is the ultimate accessory for bringing an outfit together. 

But did you know there’s now more to decide on than whether a bag matches your shoes?

There is a growing trend among eco-friendly fashion fans for ‘ethical handbags’.

Matt and Natt - Tardy

What are ‘ethical handbags’?

Typically, an ethical handbag is made from recycled materials, bypassing the use of leather or animal products.

These bags have been made in ethical conditions – that means no sweatshops or child labour - leaving you able to flaunt your style, guilt-free. 

Many of the bags are made using vegan leather – an animal-friendly alternative to leather that means you don’t have to miss out on the classic leather look and feel. 

Ethical and stylish

We know what you might be thinking – buying an ethical handbagmeans you need to compromise on high-end design. Well, that’s where you’re wrong!

There’s a truly exciting range of retailers offering stylish ethical handbags that would give any big name brands a run for their money. 

Just take a look at the offering from Matt & Nat, for instance. All their bags are vegan and designed in Montreal, Canada. 

Part of their mission statement reads: “To live beautifully means appreciating the humanity, creativity and positivity found in all of us” – we couldn’t agree more, and we are delighted to stock a selection of their range in our online store

The beauty of the ethical handbags from Matt & Nat is that they can add structure and style to both smart and casual outfits.

We love the idea of teaming this tote bag…

…with a blazer and jeans for effortless weekend chic and we can imagine this elegant clutch…

…adding some gorgeous glamour to a LBD. 

However, Matt & Nat’s handbags aren’t the only things on the menu for consumers with a conscience. 

A range of designers to choose from

There are other ethical designers that deserve a shout out too. 

If you’re hunting for an ethical handbag with a story to tell, Beara Beara could be the brand for you. They champion local craftsmanship and work with a team of local craftspeople in deprived Bolivia to produce the unique bags. 

And for those of you who like your ethical handbag to stand out from the crowd, there’s Makki. These bags are made from eel skin. Yep, that’s right!

It might not sound very ethical – and it means the bags certainly aren’t vegan. However, Makki only use the eel ‘leather’ that is a by-product of the great number of eels that are killed for food in South Korea – which helps avoid waste. 

Whatever style of ethical handbag you choose (eel skin or otherwise), there is certainly a great feeling that comes from knowing you have made a conscious decision to play your role in supporting local craftspeople, avoiding animal cruelty and helping the environment. 

That feeling might not be something you can wear, but it certainly helps you walk with more of a spring in your step, doesn’t it?

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