Animal activists do a great job of fighting for the voiceless.
However, I believe economics can move the needle faster because it helps companies realize there is a demand for vegan products.
If we expect a multi-billion dollar company to stop manufacturing products and just lose out on massive amounts of profit, that’s just an unrealistic expectation.
Or we spread minimalism like wildfire, or we incentivize regular people to buy products that don’t impact animal life, or the environment as much.
As a realist, it’s inconceivable to look at how society is evolving, and believe everyone can drop consumerism, though. As such, I believe we need to create a demand for vegan products — by supporting more eco-conscious brands.
How Did I Find The Best Vegan Crossbody Bags?
I select the best vegan crossbody bags, not by individual bags, but by actually looking at the entire landscape of brands available. It’s virtually impossible to tell what the best crossbody bag is — because everyone has a different taste.
We have gathered a list of 36 brands and trimmed that list down to 5 eco-conscious brands.
Here are some of the criteria we considered:
- How are the crossbody bags made? To create vegan crossbody bags, companies must use recycled materials, innovative raw materials like cork and even synthetic leathers (PU). There is an added pollutive component to synthetic leathers, but it’s significantly less cruel than skinning animals for their skin.
- Is everyone treated fairly in the supply chain? We don’t believe in supporting companies that exploit people in Asia (or Africa), by paying them 0.50 cents an hour to manufacture products or sourced raw materials. Therefore, we’ve looked for companies that craft their products locally.
- Are the crossbody bags sustainable? A great number of crossbody bags are crafted with synthetic leather, which means new plastic is created to give birth to a bag. However, if you buy bags created from recycled materials, you’re causing a lesser impact, and therefore is more sustainable.
- Is the brand transparent? An eco-conscious brand should not have any problem explaining how they operate. They should be very specific in the information they provide regarding their manufacturing and sourcing and should be objective. We have seen brands claim to be vegan, but sometimes their practices demonstrate otherwise when you get one of their products.
Having narrowed the field of choice from 36 to seven, we now have brands that tick all of the boxes. Here are 5 transparent brands with an eco-conscious approach to fashion:
Bags Made From Cork
Cork seems to be a great option for sustainable bags. It’s a natural and renewable material (although cork materials typically come with synthetic backing) and it can be flexible and durable similar just like regular leather.
Corkor (100% Vegan)
Corkor creates bags that look like leather, but come from a cork tree.
And unlike leather — cork is natural, water repellent, scratch, and stain-resistant. Bags made from cork are also easy to maintain — as only water and soap is needed.
The Corkor bags are designed in-house and then handmade by a close-knit team of local artisans in Portugal. Plus, the cork itself is FSC® certified, which ensures the cork oak forest is sustainably harvested, and never fully exploited.
They remove the outer bark of the tree, without cutting or harming it — allowing it to naturally replenish so it can be harvested again. To make things even better, Corker also avoids mass-production and only creates small batches at a time to avoid waste.
The bags are 100% vegan and don’t contain any form of polyester.
I also love the fact they are extremely transparent by including every team member and details about the production process on their website. Feel free to visit their shop on Etsy.
Bags Made From Recycled Materials
Recycled materials are currently the most sustainable form of material because they prevent existing materials from being created, going to waste and filling up the landfill.
Do you want extremely durable crossbody bags that will look even more beautiful over the years? grünBAG’s crossbody bags are made from recycled materials, such as the surplus from tarpaulin production, a material used for truck covers. Patina is also added to the bags to better sustain the appearance of the bags over the years.
Their bags are currently made in Denmark, where their headquarters is located.
When needed, they outsource additional workload to an atelier in Poland equipped with suitable machinery and a group of skilled sewers.
All of their products are shipped out in small boxes made from reused cardboard, and the pocket used to insert the freight label is created from the recycled film. The brand itself is not vegan, but they always offer a vegan alternative to their non-vegan products.
According to the about us page — they are keen on switching to a 100% vegan, yet sustainable material that is as durable as regular leather.
I was a bit sad to find out they aren’t 100% vegan — but with enough support, this is a company that can completely repurpose their business to a fully vegan model.
Go to the grünBAG by following this link!
HFS collective relies on a variety of eco-friendly materials to craft their crossbody bags. These include post-industrial recycled polyester, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, pinatex, raffia, organic cotton, and more.
HFS uses a combination of recycled, upcycled, deadstock and organic materials that lessen the impact on the environment.
The materials used in this particular crossbody bag (this one you can wear on your waist as well) are the following:
- Natural, plant-based raffia
- And organic cotton lining.
Also, most bags come with a dust cover, handcrafted from either 100% organic cotton or eco-fi, a high-quality fiber created from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
And as an ethical company would have it — every single product is handcrafted locally in Los Angeles. The sourcing of the materials is also done ethically, by ensuring organic farmers are paid a fair wage.
Handmade from the interior of a Porsche 911 Series 993
Imagine having a bag crafted from a Mercedes Benz or Porsches’ interior — or even an airplane’s seat? Now that’s what I call romantic.
In fact, the way their recycled materials vary means nobody can have the same bag.
Here’s a note they leave on every product page: “Please be aware, that we are working with reclaimed materials and therefore the liner pattern and the leather panels may vary.”
Mariclaro bags (and other products) are handmade in Canada, and they’re basically made from recycled materials — like seatbelts, seat covers and more.
While some products use synthetic leather, others may use genuine leather. Therefore you must ask what type of repurposed leather was used.
This brand, although It cannot be “considered” vegan, it is still eco-conscious for repurposing materials that would otherwise go to waste. Feel free to visit their shop on Etsy.
Bags Made From Synthetics (PU)
While I support brands that hold the banner of Veganism, I don’t believe many do it well (Matt And Nat), yet I still believe there are some good alternatives out there.
The challenge here is to find which brands have the core values we’re searching for. They have to prove themselves sustainable, ethical and transparent in what they do. And obviously, no animals can be sacrificed to forge new products.
In this section, I will include brands that don’t use PVC (which is significantly worse than PU), and that provide actual information about their modus operandi.
The material Angela Rou uses to craft its bags is EPUL ((Exquisite Polyurethane Leather) — a durable and high-quality poly material that is processed multiple times to acquire the softness and smooth texture present in high-end leather handbags.
The usual process begins with a hand-sketched idea, where Angela spends four months perfecting the design and stitching it together.
The handbags then go through a sampling process where they are observed for another four months to test their versatility and performance.
It is important to note that just because a handbag is made with EPUL, it isn’t necessarily vegan. A brand may use glues or other materials that contain animal-derived products in the production. Angela Roi handbags, however, are completely free of animal products.
Angela Rou also does handcraft their products— and therefore you might find their most popular products frequently out of stock.
Anyway, I wanted to find out how Angela Rou pack their products.
This video was found on their “How My Bag Is Made” page:
From what I’ve been able to grasp, they insert their bags into a polybag. While I do appreciate the use of synthetic leather, plastic remains a dangerous pollutant to our oceans.
Hopefully, they minimize the use of poly bags in the future.
Wrapping Up: It’s Not Ideal.
While these brands do their best to prevent waste, they are very niche.
The great majority of eco-conscious brands are expensive, and thus out of reach for most people in the world. Corker might have one or two products on the cheaper end, but they are still expensive at $70.
We live in an age where the consumerist nature of people is unruly, but that’s because companies can lower their price points to 10-20 dollars by exploiting the environment and people in third world countries needing a paycheck.
And even though these companies are vastly more eco-conscious, their impact is minimal when behemoths like H&M and Zara have a bigger impact.
Do you have any favorite sustainable bag brands I missed? Please send me an email to email@example.com so I can add them to the list! Thanks!