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For most people, veganism starts with an awareness of the food they’re putting in their mouths. However, in my experience, once you start to become sympathetic to the plight and suffering of animals, it becomes an all-encompassing lifestyle choice that makes you reevaluate everything you choose to purchase, use and consume.

From boots to bags, coats to car interiors… leather is a fairly innocuous material that is basically everywhere you look.

If you’re no longer comfortable with the thought of wearing the skins of animals (yep, it’s a horrible thought), then I’d love to introduce you to some of my favourite innovative, cruelty-free bag brands that are paving the way with alternative vegan leather.

Despite my initial misgivings, you can definitely still purchase high-quality, super-soft handbags that will last you for years! And, what’s even better? It’ll be a choice that feels as good on the inside as it looks on the outside.

Review Summary

Here are the best affordable yet super stylish UK vegan bag brands

I’ve talked more about the leather industry and what to look out for in vegan fabrics (scroll further down this post for further reading). But for now, let’s take a look at my go-to cruelty-free handbag brands that use zero animal products. Whether you’re looking for a classic tote or a go-to evening clutch, I’m sure that you’ll find plenty of inspiration in the list below!

Oh, and whilst I’ve included some designer vegan bag brands, I’ve tried to keep my suggestions as affordable as possible whilst never skimping on quality.

1. Johnny Loves Rosie

Our mission is to use Award Winning Vegan Leather that is sustainably sourced and hand personalised to create meaningful and aspirational handbags and accessories.

  • Styles:¬†Crossbody bags, handbags, purses
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£

With a mission to use vegan leather that is sustainably sourced and uniquely tailored to you, Johnny Loves Rosie is your one-stop destination for all things personalised! It’s all about the little details: firstly, pick your bag, then add your initials, select your strap, and finally, pick your keyring.

These luxury cruelty-free bags look and feel just like leather, whilst having an environmental impact that is¬†up to 24 times lower than their animal-derived alternatives.¬†They have more recently been sampling fruit and plant fibres to expand their sustainable collections even further ‚Ästso watch this space!

2. Mashu

We believe a good product is judged not only by its looks but equally through the way it was created.

  • Styles:¬†Baguette bags, crossbody bags, evening bags, mini bags, tote bags
  • Price range: ¬£¬£¬£

You might need to save up your pennies for a Mashu bag, but I promise you, it will be SO worth it! Art Deco-inspired Mashu are on a mission to create beautiful handbags without harming planet, animals or people. Their 100% vegan fabrics are consciously low impact and prioritise innovative fruit leathers such as apple, pineapple, grape and corn, as well as organic, recycled and repurposed materials.

To buy less and better, Mashu offer a complimentary repair service for life. They’ve also partnered with Renoon to share transparent, evidence-based credentials for each product. With carbon neutral shipping and an OEKO-Tex certified cotton dustbag, 5 trees are planted for every bag purchased via TreeApp.

3. Watson & Wolfe

In a world where fashion is the second biggest polluter of our planet, we are committed to change.

  • Styles:¬†Crossbody bags, handbags, tote bags, purses (plus loads of lovely men‚Äôs bags, wallets & accessories)
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£

For Watson & Wolfe, it was working in the leather goods industry for 10 years and seeing the problems first-hand that actually changed the brand trajectory Рshaping the compassionate and eco-conscious values that underpin their ethos today.

Their products are made using innovative future leathers like corn, cork, and cactus, with linings composed of recycled polyester. They also importantly provide information about their supply chain. Whilst they only have a small selection, it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for classic designs that will never go out of fashion.

4. Corkor

By changing practices, the fashion industry can stop its negative impact.

  • Styles:¬†Backpacks, crossbody bags, tote bags, briefcases, clutches, wallets, travel, belts, accessories
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£

Cork is a fantastic leather alternative that is natural, renewable, and regenerative (did you know that harvesting cork trees actually stimulates their growth?!). Corkor is headed up Natália and Vítor, a Portuguese couple whose deep appreciation for this material stems from their European upbringing surrounded by native cork trees.

Owning their own workshop means that from design to shipment ‚Ästthey oversee the entire production process. Each certified Corkor product has been lovingly handmade by local artisans, combining small production runs with traditional craftsmanship, which results in their high quality yet always affordable price tags.

5. The Morph Bag

As a working mother, I always felt challenged with the limitations when choosing a traditional everyday bag. Being a multi-tasker in a single day, I needed versatility of use as well as styling.

  • Styles:¬†Clutches, crossbody bags, tote bags, handbag sets
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£

As an aspiring minimalist, I adore the concept of London-based label The Morph Bag. Not only do they promote conscious consumption through PETA-approved, 100% vegan products, but they only sell three styles that are designed with ultimate versatility in mind: a clutch, a crossbody and a shoulder bag tote (there’s even the option to purchase as a set).

It’s an innovative concept that means you can build your capsule wardrobe around just a few staple products, which will complement any outfit or occasion. All their bags use recycled PU leather, with linings made from recycled water bottles. Plus, they plant 3 trees in the Amazon for every order placed.

6. Labante

 I believed there was a gap in the fashion industry to make high quality products that were not only beautiful and vied for, but were also cruelty free and sustainable.

  • Styles: Backpacks, clutches, crossbody bags, laptop bags, tote bags, purses
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£

Labante London‚Äôs philosophy is ‘Fashion with Respect’ ‚Äď born out of a combined love of animals, fashion, and the wider planet. They make a point of¬†never using PVC in their designs¬†as it is non-degradable and has a much higher toxicity level than other plastics. Product manufacturing is a¬†circular process¬†that attempts to minimise waste at every step.

Labante is transitioning to more environmentally-friendly leathers like apple, although currently all of their bags include recycled materials. For example, exteriors are manufactured using vegetable by-products and Microfiber, whilst interiors are made from recycled plastic bottles.

7. Fable England

Timeless scenes of nature set a whimsical spin on a classic tale to amuse and delight.

  • Styles:¬†Backpacks, cross body bags, tote bags, weekend bags, phone bags, purses
  • Price:¬†¬£-¬£¬£

For fans of illustrated prints and embroidery details, Fable has a range of cruelty-free vegan bags that possess a playful narrative charm. They work with an ethical female-owned sustainable factory in China to produce their vegan PU products, and are currently in the process of sampling natural vegetable vegan materials.

Fable’s packaging is FSC-approved and their shipping materials are made from 100% recycled paper and plastic. They have further partnered with the environmental conservation organisation Make It Wild to offset their carbon emissions through tree planting in North Yorkshire.

8. Elvis & Kresse

The future of luxury is sustainable, ethical, reclaimed, open, generous and kind.

  • Styles:¬†Backpacks, camera bags, clutches, cross body bags, tote bags, briefcases, weekend bags, wallets, purses, accessories (& even homewares)
  • Price: ¬£¬£¬£

B-Corp certified Elvis & Kresse have a really unique story. Established in 2005, their mission was clear: to rescue and repurpose London’s decommissioned fire hoses (300 tonnes that would otherwise have been destined for landfill!). Rubber is naturally vegan, but Elvis & Kresse also take care not to use animal-based glues or lining materials.

It‚Äôs so inspiring to see how seemingly ‚Äėwaste‚Äô materials can be transformed through highly-skilled, traditional craftsmanship. Their bags and homewares are now made from¬†15 different reclaimed materials. Moreover, a huge 50% of their profits are donated to charity, including The Fire Fighters Charity.

9. Shaker

Shaker seeks to unpick the fashion industry’s obsession with leather, and instead shine a light on the beauty inherent in plant-based materials.

  • Styles:¬†Cross body bags ‚Äď more designs coming soon!
  • Price:¬†¬£¬£¬£

Previously known as Luxtra, this¬†B-Corp certified brand recently rebranded¬†as Shaker in June 2023. They relaunched with their hero product ‚Äď the lovely¬†Twist Cross Body Bag¬†‚Äď and excitingly have designs called the Push, the Fold and the Wave in the pipeline.

Shaker ensures transparency within their supply chain and fair working conditions, whilst never compromising on quality, long-lasting products. They also use¬†a variety of eco-friendly and plastic-free leathers made from MIRUM¬ģ and AppleSkin. Check them out for some truly beautiful and innovative products.

10. Thamon

Each piece is handmade from fallen leaves, dyed by hand and attentively crafted by our proficient artisans so every piece is beautiful, unique and one of a kind.

  • Styles:¬†Backpacks, clutches, crossbody bags, tote bags, purses, men‚Äôs bags & wallets
  • Price: ¬£¬£

With each piece handmade from fallen leaves and hand-dyed by skilled artisans, you really are getting a one-of-a-kind product when you purchase a bag from Thamon! The teak leaves used in this process are durable, water-resistant, biodegradable and 30% lighter in weight than real leather. As well as being cruelty-free, the production process is reassuringly free of nasty chemicals.

I must admit that when it comes to PU alternatives, I’m not always the biggest fan of the finished product, so Thamon has done an amazing job! Oh, and for a brand that feels so high-end, I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable price tag.

What Is Wrong With the Leather Industry?

Whilst the popularity of fur has plummeted in recent years, you‚Äôve probably grown up with entirely positive narratives around the leather industry. The term ‚Äėreal leather‚Äô itself is often reserved as a seal of approval for items that are simply byproducts of the meat industry ‚Äď natural, biodegradable, long-lasting, and of the highest quality. In fact, it is often used to encourage you to¬†go ahead and purchase.

But once you step outside of your consumerist mindset, what about the darker, hidden side of the leather industry that no one is really talking about?

Leather is a leading cause of rainforest deforestation

It’s dangerous to assume that animal skins are merely a byproduct of the meat industry which would otherwise just go to waste. Leather is a profit-driven industry worth tens of billions of dollars globally, so this pervasive myth only enables people to continue participating in it.

Don‚Äôt be blinkered ‚Ästleather is a major contributor to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest due to soy production. Soy is used for cattle feed, and cattle are then farmed for leather products. In this sense, leather and meat can be seen as two sides of the same destructive coin.

Deforestation

It requires toxic chemical processes that are harmful to workers

Leather is far from the touted ‚Äėall-natural‚Äô product it‚Äôs made out to be ‚Äď it must undergo¬†various intensive chemical processes¬†before it‚Äôs ready to be used in leather products.

The vast majority of leather is tanned using a highly toxic mix of chromium, formaldehyde, and arsenic. From the development of asthma and dermatitis to more chronic life-threatening conditions like cancer, there are major health risks for leather workers who are regularly exposed to these chemicals.

Leather production is highly polluting for the environment

Leather as a raw material has one of the worst effects on the environment ‚Äď far more so than synthetics. To put it into perspective, one cowhide alone has a water footprint of¬†over 100 litres.

Toxic wastewater from the leather industry is also a major environmental issue in India, one of the world’s largest leather exporters. In this predominantly unregulated process, rivers and soil become contaminated, which in turn leads to the pollution of irrigated farmlands. This food is then shipped all over the world and is likely being sold in your local supermarket.

What Is Vegan Leather & What to Look Out For

The problem with much ‚Äėfaux leather‚Äô is that it more often than not means cheap PVC –¬†a material that is made from plastic chemicals and petroleum compounds. If this has been your overwhelming experience of faux leather up to press, then I totally understand, but¬†don‚Äôt let this put you off!

PETA explains that vegan leather is:

Often made from polyurethane… It can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic.

PU ‚Äď made by adding adhesive to polyester fabrics ‚Äď is generally a better option than PVC. Not only does it¬†look and feel more like real leather, but it is made via a strictly controlled chemical process and is biodegradable. There are also plenty of¬†experimental alternative vegan materials¬†with an even smaller environmental footprint.

The obvious benefit of vegan leather is that it is cruelty-free. When more than a billion animals are slaughtered for their skins every year, going faux is the kinder choice. However, it also has the added bonus of being more eco-friendly compared to the leather-tanning process.

Stylish black handbag with accessories

Go Cruelty-Free With Style That Looks Good & Does Good

I hope that this list of¬†conscious and innovative vegan handbag companies¬†inspires you to make a kinder choice ‚Äď helping you to¬†feel good on the inside as well as looking ultra-stylish on the outside. Beauty is far more than your outward appearance. It‚Äôs caring about things outside of yourself ‚Äď whether it‚Äôs your impact on the planet,¬†animals, or¬†workers producing your everyday fashion items¬†halfway across the world.

Just because the problem is out of sight, shouldn’t mean it’s out of mind.

And for more vegan leather wardrobe alternatives, don’t forget to check out these vegan shoes and gorgeous faux leather jackets! ūüźį

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