Waste not, wear lots: Luxury handbags that don't come with a side of guilt

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Welcome to our new column from our anonymous high-flying fashion journalist, let's call her the eco-fashionista. Each month she'll be sharing her adventures in discovering sustainable style. First up, handbags you won't feel guilt investing in.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 9 March 2019

http://bit.ly/2CbpswC

OK so as this is a new column, I thought I would start big. Integral. I’d go so far to say, identity-defining.

The handbag.

Yes, the handbag. Think about it: it’s the buy that must go with every outfit you own, take you – as magazine parlance has it – from ‘boardroom to bar’ (seriously, who has a job, other than Apprentice contestants, that requires going to a boardroom? But you get the idea). It’s also the buy that must carry all your shit, from sleek iPad to not-so-sleek box of tampons to definitely-not-sleek balled-up tissues (this is why the clear-perspex-bag trend never worked). Oh, AND it’s the item that tells everyone discreetly just how goddamn on-trend you are.

It’s big, and don’t you tell me it isn’t.

Handbags Cover

So, as someone that came of fashion age in the ‘It’-bag-obsessed 90s/2000s (see Carrie Bradshaw avec Fendi Baguette, Victoria Beckham avec Hermès Birkin), I always assumed the bag must a) cost an exorbitant amount of money and b) be leather. However, some wondrous brands are proving this does not need to be so.

Let’s start at the top end (set point (a) aside a sec – you’re going to be wearing this thing every day for years, you can invest). Stella McCartney is the obvious player in the designer non-leather luxury handbag world, and I am enjoying the logo-bedecked look she’s gone for this year. 

I mean, if you’re going to spend the money, why not shout about it, right? Also, if you DO want to embrace the tricky perspex trend alluded to earlier, her new styles also feature solvent-free eco PU (environmentally much sounder than PVC). Just don’t be carrying that box of tampons with you, OK?

A more natural erring of mine is the stealth-chic handbag. Not flashy, not immediately grabby – but DAMN, it’s good. For this I direct you immediately to Nanushka, whose vegan styles are getting all kinds of love from fashion editors, which means they’re about to blow up. Invest now, brag later when everyone’s loving it. 

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Handbags Stella Mccartney

Luxury bag, Stella McCartney

Solvent-free eco PU and non leather fashion forward bag from Stella anyone?


Vegan leather Nanushka

Bumbag, Nanushka

Fashion forward, fashion editors are loving Nanushka


Vegan luxury handbags Mashu

Cute clutch, Mashu

A sustainable serious contender with structural handles - Mashu is superb


Handbags Stella Mccartney

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Luxury bag, Stella McCartney

Solvent-free eco PU and non leather fashion forward bag from Stella anyone?


Vegan leather Nanushka

2 / 3

Bumbag, Nanushka

Fashion forward, fashion editors are loving Nanushka


Vegan luxury handbags Mashu

3 / 3

Cute clutch, Mashu

A sustainable serious contender with structural handles - Mashu is superb


If you prefer a walk on the quirkier side, allow us to introduce you to Mashu. Vegan, free-of-toxins and recyclable (if you’d be mad enough to do that), these also have high-fashion finishes care of structural top handles, wavy edging and fun-but-not-ridiculous embroidery. A new brand, unashamedly eco, and it has set out its stylistic stall (and price tag) to compete with cult leather labels such as Yuzefi or Strathberry. This is surely the sign that the sustainable bag is now a serious fashion contender. 

Handbags Matt And Nat 1

A hell yeah red tote or a Prada inspired backpack from Matt & Nat

So you’re not looking to spend a small fortune? Got you. I'm probably telling you things you already know about Matt & Nat – high-end finish, classic styles, all vegan AND available on Asos. What’s not to like? 

From the new season I’d refer you to the endlessly useful/timeless Abbi in a bold hell-yeah red, and the drawstring Dodd, which has shades of the Prada nylon backpack from the 1990s. (Once a 90s kid…)

Otherwise, my tip for summer 2019 is macramé. 

Brands like JW Anderson are selling ’em for upwards of a grand. You can get ’em off Etsy for £15. I’ll settle for a lovely one for £35 from ethical brand The Future Kept. Non-animal, fun, and fashion-forward as f*ck.

Of course, they feature a helluva lot of holes. No good for tampon/tissue carrying. And definitely no good if you DO happen to become an Apprentice contestant. In which case you’ll have bigger life issues to be addressing.

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Macramé bag - sustainable, vegan, luxurious

Macramé bag

"Non-animal, fun, and fashion-forward as f*ck" - bag from The Future Kept


Macramé bag - sustainable, vegan, luxurious

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Macramé bag

"Non-animal, fun, and fashion-forward as f*ck" - bag from The Future Kept


Want to highlight your sustainable fashion brand to our new eco-fashionista columnist? Send details to wastenotwearlots@gmail.com.

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