Carry your gear in sustainable and cruelty-free style, with this handy guide to the best vegan handbags in the UK.
Leather may be the material of choice for most handbags, but just because it’s the most popular choice doesn’t make it right.
With numerous ethical and environmental issues associated with leather – from animal cruelty issues, as well as the environmental impact of cattle ranching – it’s no wonder that an increasing number of people are seeking out kinder choices.
Whilst a rise in the number of people looking for vegan alternatives when it comes to products such as handbags and shoes should mean an increase in choice, unfortunately, it’s buyer beware out there. The term vegan leather is often used as a form of greenwashing by unscrupulous manufacturers.
These manufacturers try to make petroleum-based synthetics like “vegan leather” as more environmentally sound than natural fibres. Yet they are made from fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.
Some vegan leather is also made from PVC – which is so toxic that Greenpeace once referred to it as the “Poison Plastic“.
Thankfully, many eco-conscious ethical brands are now making their vegan handbags from polyurethane (PU). Whilst PU is a plastic, derived from fossil fuels, it is considered much safer. Others have adopted plant-based leathers – such as those derived from apples, cork, pineapple and cactus. Whilst these all have to be bound with PU to make them durable – so aren’t plastic-free – they are kinder to the environment than PVC.
The Best Vegan Handbags To Know
The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+
Use the quick links below for information about each brand or keep scrolling for the full post:
1. Will’s Vegan Store
Will’s Vegan Store makes stylish vegan handbags that are ethically made in Europe. The perfect size for carrying all of your essentials, these classic bags will go with almost everything in your wardrobe.
These are all handmade in small batches in Portugal from Italian vegan leather. This material is made with plants using bio oil that is sourced from organic cereal crops that are grown in Northern Europe in a carbon-neutral process.
Even the delivery is well thought out. Will’s Vegan Store delivers it to you through its carbon-neutral supply chain in paper and cardboard packaging. Zero plastic waste here!
2. LaBante London
Budget: ££ – £££
LaBante London – available at Immaculate Vegan – is an award-winning wholly vegan brand that specialises in stylish sustainable handbags.
Operates with the ethos that “fashion is respect” the brand aims to put people, animals and the planet first.
Having pledged to be a PVC-free brand, all of LaBante’s bags are made from vegetable-based leather. The bags are then lined with fabric made from recycled plastic bottles to minimise impact on the environment.
LaBante makes its bags in Portugal and Turkey, as well as China and India. As well as working with anti-sweatshop activists to help improve its own practices, It only works with factories that are part of SEDEX. This is an audit tool which helps to promote transparency in business practices and the respectful treatment of workers.
What I also love is that LaBante London donates 10% of its profits each year to charities. Plus, it also plants ten trees for every item sold.
3. Frida Rome
Budget : £££
Making luxury vegan handbags in the UK from cactus leather, Frida Rome – available at Immaculate Vegan – is one of the bag brands to know right now.
As well as looking incredibly stylish, Frida Rome bags are packed full of ethics. As well as cactus leather, Frida Rome also uses other carefully selected materials. This includes a vegan micro-suede – which is made in Italy using only water-based dyes – and organic cotton sourced from Germany.
Frida Rome only uses manufacturers and suppliers who provide transparent information on the welfare of their staff and their business practices. In particular, it works with those with Fair for Life certification – a responsible supply chain certification. By choosing not to export manufacturing overseas, making its bags in the UK also reduces freight emissions.
Meanwhile, Frida Rome’s packaging is made from 90% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable and compostable. It also only uses water-based inks and natural glues to minimise its environmental footprint.
For a very unique touch, each bag comes with an optional erotic story chapter! Choose that option at the checkout, if you wish!
If you’re looking for an alternative to vegan leather, try Murmali. This Portuguese brand – available in the UK at Immaculate Vegan – specialises in high-end cork handbags that are made from only natural materials.
All of the dyes that Murmali uses are non-toxic and cruelty-free. Plus the hardware is made from solid brass. This means it can be recycled an infinite number of times.
5. Elvis & Kresse
Elvis & Kresse – available at Buy Me Once – handmakes its truly beautiful vegan-friendly handbags in England from a surprising waste material. That material? Decommissioned fire hoses, salvaged from British Fire Brigades, that would otherwise be binned.
Each luxury bag is then lined with reclaimed fabric – either reclaimed Burberry textiles leftover from manufacturing or reclaimed parachute silk. This reclaimed fabric has minute flaws which make it unusable for parachutes, and would otherwise be binned. But don’t worry. Despite the name, parachute silk is vegan-friendly. It’s made from rip-stop nylon and has no animal products in it.
Durability is key. As such, repairs for life are offered on all Elvis & Kresse products. What I also love is that 50% of profits from Elvis & Kresse’s fire-hose range are donated to The Fire Fighters Charity, which offers specialist, lifelong support for members of the UK fire services community.
Looking For More Vegan Clothing Recommendations?
If you are looking for more vegan clothing and accessory inspiration check out my handy guides:
- The Best Vegan Clothing Brands
- Women’s Ethical Vegan Shoes Guide
- Guide To Vegan Wallets
- The Best Vegan Belts