This is the third installment of my brand guide to colorful, ethical and sustainable shopping; it focuses on one of my all-time favorite accessories, the handbag!
Disclaimer: The handbags on this list include those that are made with animal leather as well as vegan bags. There are many ways brands can be ethical, sustainable or eco-friendly, and there are brands that are still doing great things while still using animal leather, but because it is up to the individual how they choose to spend their money I wanted to include all options on this list. Keep in mind that choosing to shop a brand that values even one of these areas versus a brand that values none of them is a huge step in making these companies successful, while showing other brands that consumers DO care about these values.
I have dedicated separate articles to each of the categories I've researched. The first article was all about women's apparel, the second article focused on baby apparel, and I have created lists for other categories including footwear, swimwear, underwear, jewelry, athletic wear, maternity/nursing wear, menswear and home goods which will be published soon. Some brands may appear on multiple lists if they sell products that match different categories (for example, if they sell clothing and bags, they will be on both lists). This list will be updated as I learn of new brands, and I encourage you to comment below with some of your favorite brands that I can add to the list!
This list is organized alphabetically, and it is not sponsored by any of the brands I am including. However, the list may contain affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase from them then I may receive a small commission. Thank you for your support of Sustainable Rainbow.
Where to Shop for Colorful, Ethical and Sustainable Handbags
ABLE- A lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary circumstances. They manufacture directly in the communities they wish to impact, both locally and globally, creating jobs and ending the cycle of charity dependency. They believe in radical and disruptive transparency and holding factories accountable to fair labor and manufacturing standards.
Cuyana- Based in California, they believe in "fewer, better things". They offer a Lean Closet program where they make it easy to donate your unwanted clothes to a non-profit they partner with, and you get a credit to spend at their store in exchange.
Eba Totes- Functional vegan tote bags, made in the USA. Made with sustainable materials including Greenguard Certified faux leather that's "soft and buttery that feels comfortable on your body but durable enough to resist mildew, water, stains, and wear and tear" and the woven bags are made with linen. The bags all have a waterproof lining made from recycled plastic. All bags are ethically made by hand in small batches and workers are paid a fair wage.
Everlane- They make great, affordable basics and are very transparent about their costs and supply chain. They believe in "radical transparency" and on each item's website page they include details about the pricing including materials, hardware, labor and transportation.
Humble Hilo- A Guatemalan textile company that is passionate about creating opportunities and changing lives. A portion of every item they sell directly benefits those in great need by supporting projects including child nutrition, education and literacy for women, and microfinance loans for women to start their own small business to help break the cycle of poverty and help create opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. They are also creating jobs for impoverished Maya families while encouraging the continuation of traditional textile techniques, and they incorporate these beautiful fabrics into their bags.
Gunas- A vegan handbag company that believes in "conscious consumerism". They support their customers knowing who makes their products and they are open about their supply chain on their website. They believe in fair labor standards and ethical working conditions and they visit the factories personally to ensure these standards are being upheld. Their products contain no animal by-products or any PVC. They use a variety of fabrics including coated canvases, nylons, eco-polyurethane, ultra-leather, ultra-suede and up-cycled polyester for linings. Their hardware is lead and nickel free and is made with recycled materials.
JOYN- A handbag company that produces both vegan and leather products, handmade by local artisans around the world. They state on their website "We're committed to bringing you hand-to-market goods with transparent pricing and ethical practices. We believe in products that empower the cultures they came from." They are part of the Fair Trade Federation, and they partner with locally owned and managed cooperatives to keep manufacturing at a community level and encourage local leadership and personal development with marginalized and trafficked victims. They have pages on their website entirely dedicated to where their products are made, how their products are made, and who the makers of their products are. How's that for transparency?! Their leather is sourced from a "family business that specializes in the surplus market, which means we’re able to repurpose the leather that giant fashion companies have over-ordered and prevent it from entering a landfill. It allows us to keep from adding to the waste and unethical practices plaguing the industry, while still sourcing high grade, high quality leather." You can also find their products at Redemption Market.
Matt & Nat- A Montreal, Canada based company that makes vegan handbags and shoes. Their name comes from the words material and nature, and their motto is "live beautifully". Their values include "social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, learning, authenticity and, of course, love". They are committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials in their designs and they are constantly innovating new ways to remain sustainable and eco-friendly. They use recycled materials such as nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. They also believe in fair labor and transparency in their supply chain, and they visit each factory regularly to ensure their labor standards are being upheld.
Stella McCartney-High-end designer clothing, shoes and bags, available at department stores and online. They are committed to never using leather or fur, are passionate about circularity and their environmental impact, and protecting ancient and endangered forests. Their products are also available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Barney's.
Terra Thread- Totes, backpacks, weekenders, duffle bags, and pouches made at a Fair Trade Certified Factory using family grown Organic Cotton. "We start with 100% organic cotton, then, we color our fabric using GOTS certified dyes. All of our products are made in a Fair Trade Certified Factory. We guarantee fair wages, good working conditions, no child or forced labor, and a democratic workplace for our bag makers."
What are some of your favorite colorful and sustainable, ethically made or eco-friendly handbag brands? Comment below and I will update the list periodically to include more awesome brands who prove that fashion doesn't have to be fast to be fabulous!
Stay tuned for future posts featuring brands from categories including footwear, swimwear, underwear, jewelry, athletic wear, maternity/nursing wear, menswear and home goods!