Angela Roi vegan leather square orange bag, $148, available from www.angelaroi.com
A couple of years ago, while sitting in the audience watching Jonathan Safran Foer chat about his book, Eating Animals, a lady at the mic chose to point out the “great hypocrisy” of wearing leather brogues while addressing an audience about cruelty-free consumption.
“How can you call yourself a vegan when you wear leather shoes?” she asked.
Ah, the question-and-answer portion of the evening always comes out with a few eye-rolling doozies, but her particular query wasn’t entirely silly.
Freedom of Animals Mara backpack. Available at freedomofanimals.com.
Negotiating a passion for fashion with being a fully-fledged animal lover is something even the staunchest of granola-crunching, Vogue-devouring vegans struggle with.
Steering clear of pepperoni pizzas and soft cheese is a walk on easy street when compared with finding a shoe or handbag that doesn’t involve calfskin, python, chinchilla or some other cute critter by-product.
A bit like vegan-friendly desserts, which includes soaked chia seeds passed off as pudding and pulverised avocado masquerading as cheesecake, vegan-friendly fashion options, largely made from pleather, plastic, faux fur and other nasty synthetics, tend to be underwhelming to say the least.
Natalie Portman, one of Hollywood's stylish vegans. Photo: Getty
To help in your cruelty-free crusade, we’ve scoured the internet determined to find luxe, trendier-than-thou accessory labels dedicated to the cause. Of course, just because you wear leather and call yourself a vegan doesn’t make you a hypocrite.
As Foer points out, why get tripped up over labels when every bit of change is a step in the right direction?
But for those determined to go down the purist path, it’s good to know there are fashion-forward options out there.
So, to answer the question posed above, yes, you definitely can be.
And here are five animal-friendly handbag labels that prove just that.
Created by life-long vegan and Central Saint Martin’s grad Morgan Bogle, Freedom of Animals is so chic, functional, minimalist and colour-blocked it’s garnered itself comparisons to Céline. Yet unlike Céline, every bag is made of sustainable materials like recycled water bottles, utilises vegetable-based dyes and raises funds for wildlife conservation.
All Della’s accessories are handcrafted in Hohoe, Ghana, by local women who’ve received employment, education and training through the brand. Everything from the slouchy hobo sling bags to the travel purses use West African Dutch wax-cloth material that’s 100 per cent vegan and sustainable, with proceeds going toward local craftspeople and communities.
The name – derived from ‘mat(t)erial and nature’ – says it all. Committed to going leather free, the brand only uses eco-friendly materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber, cork and plastic bottles to make their classic shoppers, satchels and backpacks. The results are far from crunchy and earthy looking. Think Want Les Essentials de la Vie, minus the leather handles.
The best thing about vegan leather is that it’s ultra affordable. You can therefore afford three Angela & Roi cross-body handbags for the price of your average cowhide one. We’ll take one in every colour, please.
Whether you’re on the lookout for a sequin-encrusted clutch or roomy weekender bag, Deux Lux has your perfect carryall companion. They only use animal-friendly synthetics, but their faux-leather offerings aren’t tacky or cheap looking.