The world of fashion is changing, as more and more brands look to more sustainable ways of producing their garments, including which materials and fabrics they use – and that includes vegan leather handbags.
Major labels such as Chanel, Gucci, Burberry and Tom Ford have already pledged to stop using fur and exotic skins in their collections, while others are using leather as a by-product to the food industry.
However, more and more people are now going one step further and turning to products that don’t use leather altogether, and if you’re in the market for a vegan handbag, there are plenty of chic designer and affordable options out there.
Vegan designer handbags
It’s impossible to mention vegan designer bags without mentioning Stella McCartney, who’s been pioneering ethical fashion her whole career. She is one of the only designers who only uses vegan leather throughout her collection, for example made out of recycled plastic from the world’s oceans.
You can buy fabric and faux leather bags from most designer brands which aren’t exclusively vegan across board, though they sometimes use non-vegan products such as animal-based adhesives. Some great designer options include Nanushka, Jill Milan, Poppy Lissiman, Mashu and Arran Frances.
Vegan leather handbags
Contrary to the name, we’re obviously not talking animal skin here, but different materials made to look like it. According to PETA, ‘most vegan leather is made of polyurethane, a polymer that can be made to order. It can sparkle, have a nice glossy sheen, or be saturated in all kinds of shades.’
Other materials used for vegan leather handbags include apple peel skin, recycled plastic bottles and vegetable by-products.
Affordable vegan handbags
Because real leather is expensive, vegan leather tends to be more affordable, especially if you look to high-street brands. Matt & Nat, Doshi, Wilby Cluth and LaBante all have great sub-£100 clutch bags, backpacks, tote bags and more.
Shop our edit of the best designer and affordable vegan handbags below.
MARICI is a plant-based luxury accessories brand and uses Pinatex, an alternative to leather that does not rely on plastics and fossil fuels for its production. The plant-based material is derived directly from the off-cuts of the existing pineapple industry, bought directly from farmers themselves. These materials are then upcycled into luxury material with a distinct finishing handcrafted by a team of master artisans based in Venice into the bags that have made MARICI the brand that it is.
This asymmetrical shoulder bag has taken over Instagram and for good reason, It's beautiful and animal-friendly, having been handcrafted at a local workshop, made of premium vegan Italian Apple Peel Skin.
The Trapeze vegan leather bag has an angular silhouette offset by gentle ruching beneath the curved top handle. The microsuede-lined interior is sealed by a hidden magnetic closure and is ideally sized for your phone, sunglasses and cardholder.
Designer Stella McCartney has always advocated for cruelty-free designs, and her bags are made of a mix of polyester and polyurethane.
THEMOIRè have created a collection of luxurious handbags made from vegan leather, paper, cork, recycled organic cotton and raffia.
Designed with a new handle inspired by natural forms and made from gold plated brass, and a mix of cork and vegan leather, this style was created during lockdown. Leather is made from cactus and suede from recycled plastic bottles.
This roomy drawstring handbag has multiple options to wear it and is crafted from buttery soft faux leather and lined in fabric made from 100% RPET recycled post consumer plastic.
Specialising in vegan leather, the brand has a vegan certification by the Vegetarian Society and aims to support the environment and become a climate positive workforce, through Offset Earth.
Labante London babes bags that are 100% Vegan and Cruelty free, with animal based glues or dyes. All bags are made with recycled materials, the interiors from reclaimed plastic bottles, whilst the outers are made with vegetable by-products and polyurethane, making them fully biodegradable.
This bucket bag is made from recycled materials. All of the interior linings of are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, so this bag is completely vegan and cruelty free.
Arran Frances specialises in luxury bags, both in natural leather and animal friendly leather. The latter do not contain any animal-based materials, and are created in limited quantities to avoid waste.
The Milan-based luxury brand is a hit with celebrities on the red carpet, thanks to its sleek designs made from vegan materials and its commitment to animal welfare charities.