For some, handbags and purses may just be the vessels for carrying their belongings. But ask a stylist or fashionista, and they will tell you how it’s so much more and can make or break your look. So, you must choose them wisely.
While style and quality may be the primary factors for most people to consider when buying a handbag or purse, vegans, like always, are required to look beyond what meets the eye and find out what it is made of.
To make your task of finding vegan handbags a little easier, we have shortlisted some of the best vegan purse brands for you.
Best Vegan Purse Brands 2023
Going vegan shouldn’t come at the cost of style. Here are some of the best vegan purse brands you can shop from to stay on top of our style game while also staying true to your ethical commitment.
Needless to say that these are some of my picks for top vegan handbag brands and not your only options. There are numerous other brands that offer high-quality, stylish, cruelty-free, and ethical handbags and purses.
1. Gunas (link)
Established in 2009 by an industrial product designer named Sugandh Agarwal, Gunas is a New York-based, PETA-approved designer vegan handbag brand that uses a variety of sustainable materials to make faux leather bags that meet the needs of ethically-conscious modern-day women.
Their primary material, Mulbtex, is a water-resistant, weather-proof, silky, shiny cotton-based material made with mulberry leaf pulp. However, the brand also uses various recycled materials, nylons, and canvas to make vegan-friendly bags. The options include shoulder bags, totes, clutches, purses, and crossbody bags.
The vegan handbag brand works only with artisans or small-scale ethical manufacturers to stay true to its commitment and live up to its claims.
Gunas also offers vegan shoes and handmade vegan soaps.
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Made-to-order option available
- A little pricey
2. Matt & Nat (link)
A Canadian designer vegan bags, shoes, and accessories brand specifically known for its crossbody bags, Matt & Nat is a local favorite not just among vegans but all those looking to reduce their environmental impact.
The brand offers a variety of vegan leather bags that not just include handbags and purses for women but also men’s briefcases and yoga bags.
Matt & Nat is cruelty-free and uses recycled plastic, rubber, recycled nylon, and cork to make stylish bags for those living (or want to live) mindfully.
If you’re looking for vegan leather bags and purses that have a high-end polished look but do not cost an arm and a leg, Matt & Nat is one of your best options.
- Vegan, cruelty-free, ethical.
- Made from sustainable materials
- Also offers vegan briefcases for men and sports bags.
- Reasonably-priced (not too expensive)
- Not fully sustainable yet (they plan to be by 2023, though)
3. Melie Bianco (link)
A handbag brand that’s vegan, cruelty-free, uses eco-friendly materials, supports fair trade practices, manufactures super chic and stylish bags and purses, and is affordable may sound too good to be true, but that’s exactly what Melie Bianco’s characteristic features are.
No wonder it’s so highly praised in the media by the likes of O Magazine, Marie Claire, and Good Morning America.
Based in Los Angeles, Melie Bianco is a PETA-Approved vegan handbag brand that should be a top spot for ethically manufactured trendy bags. The styles you can choose from include top handle bags, shoulder bags, crossbody bags, totes, backpacks, clutches, wristlets, and belt bags.
- Vegan, cruelty-free, ethically manufactured
- Promotes fair trade practices
- Affordable prices
- A good variety of styles
- The raw material used for bags is vegan leather made from polyurethane (PU), which isn’t the best choice in terms of environment-friendliness and sustainability.
4. LaBante London (link)
As the name tells, LaBante is a London-based brand committed to producing vegan, ethical, and sustainable fashion products. Their offerings include a wide variety of bags, wallets, sunglasses, jewelry, and shoes.
The brand works with the motto that “no animal should be killed in the name of fashion” and “to reduce the amount of waste in the world.” All their products are eco-friendly and made with recycled materials. LaBante London is also PETA-approved.
The types of vegan bags available at LaBante include carryall bags, shoulder bags, crossbody bags, clutches, laptop bags, backpacks, tote bags, and wallets for both women and men.
The brand also gives back to the community by donating at least 10% of its yearly profits to different charities, including both the ones working for animal welfare and human health.
- 100% vegan, ethical, and sustainable brand
- All handbags are made with environment-friendly recycled materials
- Supports human and animal welfare
- The brand only works with factories that have SEDEX certification to create a sweatshop-free manufacturing environment.
- Prices are on the higher side
5. Corkor (link)
Corkor is another PETA-approved vegan fashion brand that manufactures bags, wallets, and accessories for both women and men using the cork fabric made from the shavings of cork oak tree.
For those who may not know, cork is one of the most sustainable materials out there. It’s natural, biodegradable, renewable, and recyclable. It’s hard to find a more environmentally-friendly material than cork fabric.
But this is not it. Cork fabric is also aesthetically appealing, which makes it an excellent alternative to leather and other non-environment-friendly materials.
Corkor products are handcrafted by local artisans in Portugal. Their offerings include several different types of handbags, purses, wallets, and briefcases, but are not just limited to them. You can also find vegan card cases, belts, key chains, desk mats, mouse pads, and coasters at Corkor.
- Vegan and environment-friendly products
- All items are made from cork fabric, which is one of the most sustainable vegan materials.
- Has an excellent variety of handbags
- Also offers several other vegan accessories
- Since the bags are made from natural cork fiber, you don’t get your usual color options.
6. Doshi (link)
Based in the suburbs of southern California, Doshi is a modern vegan fashion brand that manufactures high-quality cruelty-free handbags, purses, backpacks, briefcases, wallets, and accessories using microfiber vegan leather, which is a high-quality alternative to standard PU vegan leather.
Doshi items are completely free of animal products. Even the hardware, threads, and glues they use are vegan.
Doshi takes pride in offering vegan products that are also trendy, ensuring you don’t have to rely on standard or old-school designs just because you’re committed to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
The brand invests time and effort in studying the ongoing trends and works closely with handbag and purse designers to help plant-eaters stay on top of the latest fashion trends.
- Handbags are made of microfiber vegan leather, which is significantly more durable than PU leather
- The vegan leather they use feels super soft to touch
- An excellent variety of bags for both women and men
- Trendy products
- Limited color options; most bags and purses are in black.
7. Watson & Wolfe (link)
If your style of fashion in bags is minimal and classic, Watson & Wolfe is the brand for you.
Established in 2016, this UK-based brand stands out from most other vegan bag brands in that it focuses as much (if not more) on items for men as it does on women’s purses.
You can find 100% vegan and environment-friendly crossbody bags, business bags, travel bags, washbags, wallets, washbags, card and key holders, belts, and travel accessories at Watson & Wolfe.
Another distinguishing feature of the vegan bag brand is that they only use recycled linings in all their products.
- Simple and classic products for those with minimal style
- Offers a variety of men’s products as well
- 100% cruelty-free and vegan
- Only uses recycled linings
- Limited variety of products in each category
8. JW Pei (link)
A comparatively newer vegan purse brand, JW Pei is based in LA and owned by a husband-wife duo.
Committed to standing out from the crowd and not conforming to the prevalent practices, the brand uses vegan leather made from recycled plastic and microfiber leather to make their vegan, cruelty-free, and environment-friendly bags.
The brand also actively works to minimize its waste and is working to become carbon neutral by 2025.
In terms of style, JW Pei bags can be defined by the term ‘affordable luxury.’ They are super chic and stylish but do not cost you an arm and a leg. They also have an extensive range of handbags and purses (probably the widest of all the brands we have discussed in this article) in an amazing variety of colors.
- Wide range of options
- Excellent color choices
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and environmentally-conscious brand
- Have a wide range of bags, but limited style options
9. Angela Roi (link)
If your style of fashion (or taste in handbags) is classic and minimalist, Angela Ro is a brand you should definitely check out to add some timeless classic pieces to your handbag collection. As it defines itself, Angela Roi is a ‘no-sacrifice fashion brand’ offering ‘ethical accessories that are good for all creatures.
Established by a couple – Angela and Roi – the brand works with skilled artisans to make luxury vegan handbags at prices that are affordable for the vast majority. The brand offers shoulder bags, satchels, crossbody bags, totes, belt bags, and trendy micro-bags.
One of the best features of Angela Roi is that the brand continuously works to improve its practices. A recent effort in that regard is a bag collection made with re-harvestable organic vegan leather made from the cactus plant.
- Artisanal vegan handbags
- The brand gives back in the form of fair wages and participating in animal welfare
- Affordable luxury vegan bags
- Continuously working to improve their practices to make them more ethical and sustainable
- Uses polyurethane (PU) leather primarily.
10. Pixie Mood (link)
At Pixie Mood, they believe that your commitment to veganism or reducing your environmental impact shouldn’t make you compromise on fashion and style.
The brand produces cruelty-free handbags, purses, and accessories using recycled vegan leather and cork and sells them at fairly affordable prices to encourage more and more people to choose cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly products.
The company has been around since 2010 and offers a variety of different types of bags and purses. The styles include shoulder bags, crossbody bags, bucket bags, tote bags, clutches, waist bags, backpacks, and fanny packs.
Pixie Mood also offers vegan-friendly wallets, cardholders, jewelry cases, and travel organizers. The company supports animal rescue efforts as well.
- Uses recycled vegan leather
- Gives back to the community and supports animal rescue efforts
- Stylish and sustainable products
- Offers climate-positive shipping with biodegradable and recyclable packaging
- Also offers various vegan accessories
- Have only two brick-and-mortar stores; most people do not have the option to shop in person.
11. Stella McCartney (link)
If luxury defines your style, you must have a Stella McCartney bag in your collection. Recognized as one of the top luxury vegan purse brands, Stella McCartney offers an ideal combination of high-end fashion, class, and ethics.
The brand uses recycled vegan materials and sustainable practices to produce some of the most glamorous and stylish vegan handbags and purses.
The available style options include top-handle bags, shoulder bags, crossbody bags, backpacks, frame bags, different types of wallets, and mini bags that have been all the rage lately.
- Made of recycled vegan materials
- Sustainable brand
- High-quality and stylish
- Being a luxury brand, Stella McCartney products are very expensive.
What Makes a Handbag Non-Vegan?
You can’t determine if a purse (or anything for that matter) is vegan or not unless you know what to look for, can you?
Therefore, I thought it would only be wise to highlight elements or materials that can make a handbag non-vegan and you should look out for. Here are some of the commonly used non-vegan materials in purses and several other fashion items:
- Leather – Around 159 million animals are killed within the US, specifically for leather manufacturing. The numbers are over a billion globally.
- Fur and Feathers – Animals are raised in grim conditions and killed specifically for fur and feathers. Feathers are often also plucked off living birds’ bodies.
- Wool – Sheep are raised in inhumane conditions and brutally manhandled for wool, and slaughtered when no longer useful.
- Animal Glue – This may come as a surprise to many, but animal-derived glue is real and is sometimes used in shoes and bag manufacturing. It’s made by boiling animals’ connective tissues, often along with bones and skin; hence, it is non-vegan.
Check out the following video for a more detailed insight into how fashion industry contributes to animal cruelty and why veganism is what this world needs not just to save animals from abuse, but also to reduce environmental pollution and the negative health impacts various production processes, such as leather dying, has on human health.
What Are Vegan Bags Made Of?
To meet the increasing demand for plant-based/ cruelty-free/ ethically-produced fashion items, a variety of different vegan materials are being used to make purses and handbags. These include:
- Vegan Leather – A variety of different types of materials are used to make vegan leather. These include fruit waste, such as apple and grape skins, pineapple fibers, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, recycled rubber, recycled plastic, sustainable timber, bamboo, mushrooms, and even slate stones.
- Cork Fabric – Cork fabric, or cork leather, is a natural material made from thin cork shavings taken from the bark of cork oak trees.
- Pinatex – A leather alternative made from pineapple leaves.
- Lotus Flower Fabric – This super soft, light-weight, amazingly resistant, and the wrinkle-free fabric is the first known natural microfiber fabric in the world. It’s made using lotus fibers.
- Waxed Cotton – This is cotton fabric treated with wax to give it a somewhat leather-like appearance and water-resistant properties.
- Faux Fur – Synthetic fabric made from a blend of polyester and acrylic fibers.
Is Vegan Leather a Better Alternative to Real Leather?
The lack of a universally-accepted definition of vegan leather has made it a catch-all phrase for any leather-like material that isn’t made from animal skin. The two most commonly used materials in the commercial sector are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU).
What’s the Issue with PVC and PU?
These are technically vegan but have their fair share of sustainability issues, making them not the best alternative to leather. PU and PVC are essentially plastic materials synthesized in labs using petrochemicals (chemicals derived from petroleum) or fossil fuels.
The higher demand for PVC and PU requires using more fossil fuels for their production. It also takes an immense amount of energy to produce these synthetic materials, and the process releases harmful chemicals, which pollute the environment and are also harmful to both animals and humans.
Moreover, these synthetic materials aren’t durable, meaning faux leather made from them won’t last you for a long time and will end up in a landfill much more quickly. PVC and PU aren’t biodegradable either.
They convert into micro-plastics over time, which contaminate the environment and are a leading threat to living beings.
Why Do They Use PVC and PU to Make Faux Leather, Then?
Because they are cheaper, easier to get in large quantities, and produce material that looks closest to real leather.
Conclusion – What’s the Best Vegan Purse Brand for Ethically-Conscious Fashionistas?
While all the vegan purse brands discussed above are the ones I like, if I were to choose one of them, I would go for Gunas. Not only is the brand vegan, cruelty-free, and ethical, but their bags are also PVC-free.
Gunas also offer the made-to-order option for fashion enthusiasts looking to define their unique style with the handbags and purses they use. It’s also PETA-approved.
What’s not to love about the brand?
While you’re shopping for vegan accessories, it’s good to get your hands on some vegan perfumes, too. Learn about some of the Best Vegan Perfume Brands.