Vegan Leather Bags That Do Not Carry The Burden Of Conventional Leather

Leather has long since been treated as the optimum and stylish material for many clothing items and accessories. Shoes, bags, jackets, coats, you name it.

But while so many people still use it, most conventional leather as we know it is not a sustainable material and deals way more damage than its worth.

For this list, we prioritized products that use plant-based faux leathers compared to purely synthetic leather-like PU and other polymer-based textiles.

However, we did still include some vegan leather bags that are made from recycled polyester or PET and polyurethane leather. Rest assured, none of these bags are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – a known toxic option for the planet.

While the latter materials aren’t perfect or the most sustainable, they are still viable vegan leather options, especially for those who may have stricter budgets.

We have to admit that plant-based leather often comes at multitudes of the cost of a PU bag and accessibility in vegan fashion is still very much an issue that needs resolving. We’re deeply rooting for a future where more affordable eco friendly options become accessible to most.

Shop guilt-free styles from vegan purses, totes, handbags, and more with the following brands:

Mashu
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Mashu
  • Recycled polyester
  • Tree donating campaign
  • Plastic-free packaging
Gunas
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Gunas
  • Eco polyurethane
  • Lining made of recycled plastic bottles
  • Give back prorgram
Svala
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Svala
  • Cork as the main material
  • Local production
  • Give back program

Mashu - London

Mashu vegan leather bag
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image by Mashu.co.uk

Based in London, Mashu is a vegan accessories company with a special focus on luxury vegan handbags. They are heavily inspired by Art Deco interiors and architecture.

They firmly believe that objects should not only be judged on their aesthetic quality but on how they were made as well.

About the Bag

Most of Mashu’s vegan bags are small handbags, but they also have a couple of tote bags. One look at their designs and you’ll quickly recognize the heavy influence of geometric, contemporary designs.

Our personal pick is the Philippa Cork and White, which is a baguette bag with a half white and half cork motif. White is a great neutral color to match with virtually anything, and the cork adds a bit of dimension to the white and gold design.

This vegan bag comes with a shoulder strap and a gold crossbody chain. If you want to wear it as a shoulder bag or crossbody, you can just add the straps. And if you have an affinity for clutch bags, you can easily remove them.

Moreover, it comes with a magnetic closure and comes with an internal pocket. It stands at 15 cm tall and 26m wide, so it’s a pretty small shoulder bag. Its versatility makes it great for using on errands or using as an accessory to a formal ensemble.

If you are into small and dainty bags, you’ll definitely love their collection. However, they are a tad expensive and most bags have a luxury price tag.

Materials & Sustainability

Mashu focuses on materials that are plant-based, organic, recycled, circular, and cruelty-free. They strive to look for suppliers that also share similar values and core beliefs.

The exterior of this bag is made from Desserto, which is cactus leather. This type of faux leather saves up to 190% water and 77% emissions compared to polyurethane. [1]

The plant is harvested sustainably and only the leaves are taken to ensure the plant continues to grow. Plus, cacti are pretty resilient and can survive better under harsh conditions than other plants.

The cork accent is made of 100% cork sourced in the EU.

On the inside, the lining is made from recycled polyester. Using recycled reduces emissions by up to 80% when compared to the usual (virgin) petrol-based process.

Of course, the polyester is still petroleum-based, but there’s the added benefit of not using any virgin materials. And, when done correctly, the recycling process is quite similar to paper recycling.

Moreover, the packaging is guaranteed plastic-free, and everything, from the boxes to the cards, is made of recycled paper. The dust bag is OEKO-TEX certified cotton sourced in the EU.

The company only uses DHL carbon neutral shipping.

Brand Values

Perhaps the best thing about Mashu isn’t the price tag or the designs alone. It’s their commitment to being a sustainable and ethical brand, and actually having something to show for it.

Their mission focuses on production without harming the planet, people, and animals. They actually have a detailed document that details their sustainability strategy. A practice that we can only encourage all brands to follow. Check it out here.

Their bags are made in Greece in a small family-run factory, and they provide good wages for all their workers. To take it a step further, they make sure that their suppliers are transparent about their production methods as well.

To add an additional layer of credibility, they’ve partnered up with compare ethics to build trust and promote transparency within their supply chain. And for every bag sold, they plant five trees in return.

Forward-looking, the company is aiming to use zero waste bag patterns, give back to non-profits, use fully circular materials, and engage with more local crafts in Greece.

Overall, Mashu is an excellent vegan leather handbag brand. They are sustainable and transparent with their practices while also giving us high-quality products.

If budget isn’t a concern and you’re in the market for a smaller bag, Mashu comes highly recommended!

Hozen - USA

Founded in 2018 with a deep commitment to protecting the planet, Hozen is a vegan accessory brand based in California.

Hozen actually means conservation in Japanese, and in line with that, the company brings together form, function, fairness, all in one beautiful product.

About the Bag

Hozen has a pretty wide range of vegan leather bags. They sport backpacks, belt bags, crossbody bags, shoulder bags, and more.

But what caught our eye is their Canteen bag in Charcoal+Natural. It’s another color-blocking design that gives the wearer more of a personality and edge.

The bag’s circular design was actually the first inspiration for the company. We really love how something so simple can transform your outfit entirely!

At a diameter of only 8.5 inches, this is quite a small crossbody bag. It should comfortably fit your phone, a coin purse, and other small personal items. It seals closed with a zipper and has two interior slide pockets and one with a zipper.

The handle drops down to 9 inches, but you can get it customized to your liking.

A runner-up favorite would be their Heart Bag in Flamme. It’s such a lovely, vibrant red in a design that exudes playfulness and fun!

Materials & Sustainability

This vegan bag is made of at least 90% recycled materials. The main component is pineapple leather or Piñatex. We’ve talked a lot about Piñatex here because it’s such an interesting and innovative “fake” leather.

It’s made of discards from pineapple harvesting, which are considered food waste. Plus, Piñatex enables small farmers in the Philippines to scale their businesses and supplement their income, a great way to help out a community.

However, pineapple leather is still not fully biodegradable, but they are working on it!

As for the bag’s lining, it’s made from a blend of recycled plastic and organic cotton. The zippers and thread are made from recycled plastic as well.

Their materials are sourced all over the world, chosen for their ethics, responsibility, and governance according to the brand’s rigorous standards.

Brand Values

Hozen’s core values center on the following pillars:

  • Sustainability
  • Awareness
  • Dignity
  • Design
  • Community

Their products are made in a factory in Los Angeles where they pay their workers decent wages and operate under fair labor practices.

As much as they can, the company uses recycled materials to limit their negative impact on the environment. They also engage in carbon offsets to help manage their footprint.

A portion of their profits is donated to a nonprofit of their choice.

Luxtra - London

BackPack Vegan leather bags
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Image by Luxtralondon.com

Luxtra is a conscious luxury brand based in London. They make vegan purses, totes, belt bags, and plenty more.

They are completely vegan, cruelty-free, and they are a B-certified company. When you buy from them, you can rest assured that you’re getting high quality and ethically made fashion items.

About the Bag

Since most of the bags here are specifically geared towards women, we chose a gender-neutral backpack from this brand.

The Farrel Backpack in black and blue is a stylish, sleek, simple, and functional design for everyday use. It’s all black with some electric blue accents.

It has a compartmentalized interior for better organization and you can fit a 13″ laptop in the main compartment.

If you want to check out more brands that have stylish backpacks, we highly recommend our guide on vegan backpacks.

Materials & Sustainability

This bag is made from Apple Skin, another biobased vegan leather. It’s made from waste produced by the juice industry.

However, even though vegan and cruelty free, it is not fully biodegradable as it is only 20-30% apples. Luxtra sources this material very close to their factory, so transport produces little by way of emissions.

Brand Values

Luxtra aims to produce as sustainably and ethically as possible. In their range, they already use a variety of leather alternatives like apple and cactus. But they view sustainability as something beyond the raw materials only.

Their principles focus on keeping the supply chain short, supporting women-owned and minority suppliers, and working with those who share their ethos.

All Luxtra products are made in Italy. You can read more about their supply chain here.

They give back to the community by donating to various relevant organizations.

LaBante - London

Labante Vegan Leather Bags
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Image by Labante.co.uk

Founded on the idea of fashion with respect, LaBante creates finely crafted and ethically produced vegan handbags.

What started as a small business in 2009 is now a well-known name in the world of vegan fashion.

About the Bag

LaBante’s Agnes Ladies Backpack is a medium-sized rucksack that’s perfect for using daily or even when traveling.

This backpack comes in all black with gunmetal silver accents. The overall design is super stylish and totally adds an unconventionally feminine aura to your look.

There are double inner compartments and a zippered pocket at the back of the bag. There’s also an additional zipper at the front and center of the backpack, and it’s embellished with a silver chain.

The backpack’s straps are easily adjustable and you can wear them to your preference. You can even remove the straps and just hold by the handle if you want to.

The faux leather bags in their range are some of the more affordable choices from this roundup.

Materials & Sustainability

The bag’s outer is made from vegetable by-products and polyurethane. Of course, they are fully vegan and cruelty-free, including the adhesives used.

The PU they use is water-based and solvent-free.

The interior is made from recycled polyester that they craft from recycled plastic bottles. Their dust bags are made from recycled and organic cotton.

As you may have noticed, LaBante has a focus on the circular use of materials. Many of what they use is recycled and it helps them create new styles from what would otherwise be already in the landfill.

Though they use polyurethane leather to make their backpacks, we still think they’re worth checking out as they consciously make an effort to reduce their impact and improve.

Brand Values

LaBante London’s main focus is to create a stunning range of vegan accessories made through ethical and sustainable processes.

They work with SEDEX certified factories in China and they pay their workers fair, high wages. They never work with factories functioning under sweatshop environments.

They also do regular visits and social audits as part of their due diligence in maintaining ethical working conditions.

Each year, they donate at least 10% of profits to charities, including animal sanctuaries and cancer foundations.

Gunas - USA

Gunasthebrand Vegan leather bags
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Image by Gunasthebrand.com

Founded more than a decade ago in 2009, Gunas is a New York-based independent high fashion label with a cause.

They maintain that animals should never be a part of fashion. Looking and feeling good about yourself through fashion has never necessitated the harm of other living beings.

About the Bag

Operating for more than 10 years, Gunas quite a diverse range of vegan handbags, purses, totes, backpacks, and other accessories.

Their Flamingo in Purple is a lovely vegan leather handbag in a vibrant purple shade. It can also double as a crossbody with its removable straps.

The sleek and streamlined design lends it a classy look that transcends trends and gives you a timeless accessory. The gold-plated hardware just adds to the effect.

It has a zippered divider pocket for additional organization as well as another separate internal zipper pocket.

The bag is 8.5 inches tall and 10.5 inches wide and is the perfect size to carry around. Large enough for all of your belongings to fit comfortably without looking too bulky.

Materials & Sustainability

The bag’s outer is made from textured eco polyurethane. They use a PU-coated canvas made of cotton. Their material isn’t the most eco-friendly, but they’re slowly looking for ways to improve in that department.

They’ve even started making bags with Mulberry leather.

The inner lining is made of recycled plastic bottles. Using recycled is much better than using additional resources to create virgin material.

The hardware is made of recycled metal covered with 18k gold plating.

Brand Values

At the heart of their brand, Gunas believes in human, animal, and environmental welfare. We see their efforts to be more animal and eco friendly through their material choices.

All products are made in Seoul, South Korea, handmade in small artisan studios. They pay above-average wages to their workers at par with the quality of work received.

The company also gives back to various organizations, including animal sanctuaries, and animal welfare groups.

Svala - USA

Svala vegan leather bag
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Image by Svala.co

Svala was created with the goal of creating stylish, versatile, and beautiful bags and accessories produced in a sustainable and animal-friendly way.

Inspired by the simplicity of Scandinavian design, Svala handcrafts luxury pieces in LA using premium materials.

About the Bag

For this brand, we chose another backpack style. The Gemma Backpack Purse in Gold Speckled Cork is a beautiful light brown color with some spattering of gold.

It’s a versatile bag that you can use as a purse or as a backpack. The same adjustable straps used for the backpack can also double as a shoulder strap.

Carrying it as a pack makes it look more casual while bringing it down to a handbag makes it appear effortlessly elegant and polished.

It snaps closed with a hidden magnet closure and has an interior pocket for your phone or keys. The bag is 10 inches tall and 10.5 inches wide.

It also comes with a detachable swallow charm and an organic cotton dust bag. Fun fact, Svala means swallow in Icelandic, and is a symbol of hope, freedom, and love in various cultures.

Materials & Sustainability

The main material for this bag is cork. Cork is a little bit different from other vegan leather in a way that it doesn’t look a lot like real leather, but it does perform similarly.

Cork fabric has its own distinct appearance that sets it apart from others. Plus, cork is super durable and is water-resistant—quite contrary to what many expect.

Cork is can be sourced in a sustainable way since stripping the oak tree of its bark does not harm the tree at all, as long as it’s done in a timely manner.

It is also natural and biodegradable, making it an excellent eco and vegan-friendly alternative to animal leather.

The inner lining is crafted from recycled polyester made from recycled plastic bottles blended with organic cotton.

Brand Values

Svala focuses on using only premium vegan materials. They also make all of their products locally in Los Angeles. None of their bags contain PVC.

Their workers are paid fair wages and work under comfortable working conditions. Each bag is hand-made by local artisans.

They also participate in carbon offsetting programs to reduce their carbon footprint.

They give back to the community by giving away 10% of their profits to various charities and organizations.

Alexandra K - Poland

Founded in 2014, Alexandra K utilizes a mixture of various vegan leather alternatives to create beautiful vegan bags.

They use innovative materials processed under a production process that’s safe for all involved to breathe life into their designs.

About the Bag

Alexandra’s Shopper Black Grape is a wonderfully large tote that’s just perfect for anyone who needs a little more room for their belongings.

It’s an expandable tote that you can make more compact using the clasps on the side. If you need extra space, you can undo the clasps and let the flaps fan out. The bag can comfortably fit an A4-sized document.

It also comes with a small inner purse for better organization and access to important items.

The entire bag is secured with a piece of leather cord to tie both sides together. It isn’t the most secure way of doing it, but it also helps keep everything handy.

It stands at a height of 31 cm and 55 cm wide. You can get it in gold or silver hardware.

Materials & Sustainability

The exterior material used for this bag is grape leather. This type of faux leather comes from Italy and is made using wine leftovers and grape oil—another material that utilizes food waste.

Grape leather has a high content of vegetable, renewable, and recycled materials. The black grape is 75% biomass and the rest is made of polyurethane (PU), making this faux leather unfortunatly not fully biodegradable.

However, this fabric is also challenging to recycle due to the mixture of the materials. Nevertheless, you can keep these faux leather bags for a long time given proper care.

The inner lining is made from ecoPU, which is an option that uses less water and energy compared to its conventional counterparts.

All bags from this company are made by hand in a workshop in Poland using traditional sewing techniques.

Brand Values

Alexandra K focuses on crafting vegan bags with a mind for the environment and animals. In that regard, they always try to use the most innovative fabrics on the market to further their goals.

They are also very committed to delivering great quality products to their customer base. Their bags are durable and made to last.

However, we couldn’t find much information on their labor practices and how ethical they are. What we do know is that the products are made by excellent craftsmen in their Poland workshop, which does not always guarantee fair labor practices.

Overall, this company is great if you want to try newer kinds of vegan leather and have extra funds to spend on it – we would simply recommend more transparency on the production process.

The Problem With Conventional Animal Leather

Traditionally, leather has always been made from animal skin. And just by its nature, leather IS animal skin. But over the last few decades, there has been growing resistance to the use of leather due to two main factors: animal cruelty and environmental damage.

The age-old argument is that animal skin is just an incidental by-product of the animal farming industry. But if we’re being real with ourselves, this is part of a common misconception.

Beyond the fact that creating leather requires killing an animal for its skin, the tanning process is also incredibly environmentally taxing.

It requires copious amounts of chemicals that endanger the workers and the environment, especially the water nearby water systems.

So while real leather bags may sound premium and of high quality, there is often an untold price that consumers are lucky enough not to pay for.

As we often say at Puratium, educate yourself constantly and strive for eco-conscious purchase habits whenever you can. Take time to read from trustworthy resources like this one and spread the word: be an eco-ambassador and join our community demanding fairer, slower fashion.

Is Vegan Leather Planet Friendly?

Vegan leather or faux leather is any type of leather alternative that does not involve the use of any animal products. Though it’s leather, the production process of vegan leather varies immensely depending on the material.

Vegan leather can be made from polymers like PVC and PU and plants like pineapple, cork, and even mushroom!

But, one important distinction to make is that not all vegan leather is good for our planet. They have varying levels of sustainability and durability.

It is crucial to consider a given fabric taking into account its entire lifecycle: where and how is it sourced, is it renewable/compostable/recyclable, does it involve significant amounts of water or toxic chemicals to process, is it harming living creatures, is it made in factories with decent working conditions, is it shipped from the other side of the world multiple time before arriving in a store, and so on.

We have a separate article on vegan leather that discusses the topic more earnestly. We recommend you check it out for more information.

Final Thoughts

We hope you liked our selection of vegan bags hailing from sustainable and ethical brands. We know that personal style is—well, personal—and what we picked may not be up your alley. Hopefully, our selection even inspired you for a special earth-friendly vegan gift.

If so, we recommend going through the other products from the brands we talked about. You’ll likely find something that interests you, whether it’s bold colors or desaturated neutrals you’re looking for.

We are proud to say that our vegan section offers a wide selection of similarly interesting reviews such as this one on vegan sneakers or this one on vegan wallets. Thus, do not hesitate to hit the search button on our platform and of course, let us know if you could not find the information you were looking for.

Lastly, always go for a bag that’s durable and will last a considerable amount of time. After all, sustainability is a function of both production and use, so make your choices wisely!

Resources:

  1. https://desserto.com.mx/lca#
Svala vegan leather bag
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