20 of Our Favourite Sustainable Bag Brands to Invest in Now

sustainable bag brands

The eco-friendly labels to consider for that next accessory purchase

Words by Jessica Davis

If you are looking to invest in a new handbag, but want to make sure that the one you’re opting for is a sustainable choice, then you have come to the right place. Here, we have rounded up some of our favourite eco-friendly accessory labels on the market.

Building up a more earth-friendly approach to shopping is all about making conscious, well thought-out decisions with your purchases, and doing plenty of research into the brands you are thinking of investing in. Make sure you take time to understand the processes and the materials used in the manufacture – check out the brand’s website and feel free to get in touch with them if you have any questions. Being a responsible shopper is all about being inquisitive. And, don’t forget that there are also plenty of amazing resale and rental sites around too, if you want to try out a style first or get yourself a vintage tote.

Below, we have rounded up 20 sustainable handbag brands that suit every budget, and will enable you to shop sustainably and stay chic.

Sustainable bag brands to shop now:

Atomy Studios

 

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Polish label Atomy Studios uses the concept of lean manufacturing, which was first coined by the creators of Toyota in Japan. It focuses on waste reduction, both in materials and labour, where humans are first in the chain of production. It emphasises how important it is for them to make the right choices, to deliver high-quality products while still respecting its workers and the planet. The brand bases production on local crafts and uses only the services of regional producers and suppliers, using Polish, vegetable-tanned leather. Above all else, Atomy Studios represents what it means to be sustainable in fashion today, by creating timeless pieces to invest in now and love for a lifetime.

Maestoso

 

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Maestoso knows that our choices have an impact on the world around us. The brand works to ease its own environmental footprint by sourcing sustainable materials, implementing ethical production practices and investing in styles that stand the test of time. Aside from the product itself, the brand uses recyclable packaging and has a permanent initiative that plants one tree for every purchase.

Chylak

 

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Chylak’s new collection is a sustainable take on moiré, which is an intricate fabric that has been handcrafted in France for more than five generations by a family-owned business. This version of moiré is made with 62 per cent recycled ocean plastic, with all linings being created from LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose, which is 40 times less water-intensive to produce than cotton, as well as recycled threads and recycled or natural rubber interfacing to stiffen our handbags.

The brand was founded by Zofia Chylak, who has previously designed for Proenza Schouler and Nicolas Caito. Although the brand is not defined as sustainable outside of this collection, her recent work shows how we can reimagine traditions in a more sustainable way that’s better for the planet.

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Wicker Wings

 

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When brother and sister duo Belinda and James Yu discovered their grandmother’s hand-wove baskets in China before coming to England, they set out to make the wicker bag a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. Wicker Wings bags are handwoven using naturally grown rattan and high-quality Italian vegetable leather. The rattan used is one of the fastest-growing, replenishable natural materials in the world and the Italian vegetable-tanned leather uses only natural materials in the finishing process.

Each basket is handwoven by female artisans in Indonesia, a skill that is declining but through the demand for these bags, women can remain in employment and create a second income for their families.

Manu Atelier

 

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Manu Atelier presents sustainability in the form of longevity. One of the greenest ways to approach fashion and shopping is to invest in styles that you will love forever, instead of steering towards trends and buying into fast fashion. The brand explains: “Producing our bags in our own workshop provides us with a great advantage in regards to sustainability. It provides an opportunity to have more control of all production stages and overall, more control over the quality of our products.”

Its leather is locally sourced and handled in-house in the brand’s workshop, which only uses the highest-quality materials and techniques that have less impact on the environment. The leather has had minimal chemical treatment and therefore is less harmful to the environment. Manu Atelier operates a zero-waste policy and recycles any leftover materials and reuses for bag linings.

Stella McCartney

 

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One of the most well-known responsible brands famed for its sustainable practices, Stella McCartney continues to set an example within the luxury fashion industry. The designer uses innovative processes and materials such as organic cotton, forest-friendly fibres, recycled polyester and regenerated cashmere to create all of its products.

Nannacay

 

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What makes Nannacay so special is that no two pieces are the same, as each is carefully constructed by hand, so you know your accessory will be unique. The collections are filled with traditional straw, string and canvas designs, all given very modern updates. The development, colour standardisation and quality control are all coordinated by founder Marcia Kemp herself, who loves to lend her expertise to the local community in Peru. Much more than a fashion brand, it also serves as a bridge between those in need and people able to help.

Roop

 

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Roop uses leftover cuts from factories, secondhand Ebay finds, charity shops and vintage fabrics to create its statement Instagram-worthy bags. Founder Natasha Fernandes Anjo makes each piece by hand into her own designs, which she describes as a blend of “Furoshiki bags meets scrunchie”.

Due to the nature of the fabrics used, many items are one of a kind, while the brand’s packaging is made from recycled products, too.

Alienina

 

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Each Alienina piece is handmade and unique using a vast variety of unexpected materials, such as sailing and mountain climbing cords, wicks for oil lamps, resin used in car parts, or straps used for blinds. Around 80 per cent of the materials are production waste, washable and non-toxic. The techniques used are inspired by old traditional crafts, which the designer then reimagines in a contemporary, modern way.

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Bottletop

 

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Bottletop began with one aim in mind – to empower people and the planet through sustainable design. It started in 2002 by upcycling bottle tops in Kenya lined with leather offcuts and has since then become one of the most recognisable sustainable bag brands in the industry. It works closely with the National Wildlife Federation to ensure that its leather supply has zero deforestation impact during production.

Marici

 

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After discovering that many vegan alternative leathers can be plastic-based, Marici aimed to find an environmentally friendly material that didn’t compromise on that luxury feel. The brand discovered fruit leathers and uses pineapple waste to create its products, which are made through low-waste production and minimal water usage in order to keep their impact on our planet low.

Mashu

 

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Ethical and sustainable handbag brand Mashu is known for its elegant top-handled, leather-look bags, which are all carefully crafted from recycled polyester and plastic.

Through their processes, CO2 emissions are reduced by 80 per cent compared to the traditional petrol-based polyester production process. The brand has also started to experiment with natural fibres such as Pinatex, a leather alternative made from pineapple leaves. All of the materials used are 100 per cent recyclable at the end of their life and the products are handmade in Greece.

Kayu

Kayu bags are made entirely by hand in limited quantities by artisans in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. The brand aims to preserve and cultivate the traditional crafts that surrounded the designer, Jamie Lim, as a child – and that have been passed down through generations. Due to the attention to detail, each piece takes around two days to complete, but once ready they make the perfect summertime accessory.

Naturae Sacra

 

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Naturae Sacra is a Milan-based contemporary label that takes its inspiration from nature, sculpture and interiors. Every bag from the brand is hand-made locally, using traditional vegetable-tanning techniques and consciously sourced materials. It takes up to 12 days for artisans to produce a single piece, which demonstrates the brand’s passion for skilled craftsmanship and environmentally conscious design processes. We love its signature natural resin handles – guaranteed to make any outfit look chic.

Hereu

 

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Hereu’s leather bags celebrate the folk traditions and the art and culture of the Spanish Mediterranean. The brand works with skilled local craftspeople and artisans in Barcelona, with “the individual hand of an artisan” being the starting point for each design. The label’s instantly recognisable top-handled, cut-out leather tote is a great starting point for your sustainable handbag collection.

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Paradise Row

 

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Fast becoming a favourite are Paradise Row’s sweet and kooky ‘Empathy’ bags, which feature facial expressions embellished across them. The company was founded three years ago to help revive East London craftsmanship and give something back to the local community. The area was once renowned for its thriving textile industry, but now has only a handful of leather workshops left. This inspired the founders to revive the spirit of the area with their new company, which is already making waves across the capital.

0711 Tbilisi

 

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If you want to make a statement and be sustainable at the same time, then this brand will be right up your street. 0711 Tbilisi is a label aiming to reinvent the classic handbag by combining natural materials, traditional hand weaving and contemporary design.

Founded by friends Nino Eliava and Ana Mokia, the brand combines a love of nature with passion for statement pieces. The entire business is based in Georgia, which gives the founders greater control over materials, suppliers and the entire production process.

Each hand-woven bag is created manually by artisans, who are all elderly women for whom knitting is native, a craftsmanship passed down from ancestors – and, since 2015, they have adopted an innovative knitting technique using organic glass and plywood frames.

Sandqvist

Sandqvist was founded in 2004, initially as an experimental design project by childhood friends; Anton, Daniel and Sebastian. However, the brand quickly grew due to the lack of well-crafted, design-led, functional bags on offer at the time. The three founders stay true to their Scandinavian roots and believe in Swedish values: sustainability and care for the environment, high-quality designs and uncompromising functionality.

Edun

 

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Edun is a label that is dedicated to creating high-end fashion, while encouraging trade in Africa and sourcing sustainable materials. This means that not only are the designs chic and fashion-forward, but many of the materials used are unique; examples include faux leather made from pineapple fibres and a vegan tote created from barkcloth, an ancient craft of the Baganda people who live in southern Uganda.

A A K S

Akosua Afriyie-Kumi founded her brand A A K S as she wanted the world to see the weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana. Handcrafted there, the brand creates sustainable jobs for the women who live there. Each bag has been designed with durability in mind and also maintains the spirit of their ancestral counterparts characterised by bright exuberant colours. Afriyie-Kumi is closely connected to each stage of design and production to ensure that the end result keeps to the craftsmanship, authenticity and ethical values of the brand.

This article originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com