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    Better Than Leather

    by Colleen Ward

    Have you ever thought of all the leather in your life? Do you ever wonder about vegan alternatives to leather?

    Last summer, when suppliers to French luxury designer Hermès were found to be abusing the crocodiles and alligators that supply skins for bags, watches, and accessories, actress and singer Jane Birkin promptly asked the company to remove her name from the well-known Birkin Bag. Birkin later retracted her request, convinced that the incident, filmed by PETA, was an isolated one. And yet the story’s brief headline moment highlighted potential for cruel and less-than-ethical treatment of the animals in our fashion supply chain.

    Here is just one of the many stories about the Hermès investigations.

    Stylish vegan alternatives to leather exist, and many designers are pushing the envelope to create unique designs using alternative materials. For example, Stella McCartney is known for the research her company invests in non-leather alternatives for shoes and accessories. McCartney describes a sustainable approach to sourcing materials for fashion in an interview:

    “People don’t always question the sourcing of their materials, and it’s critical, it’s key. In farming, you know you have to put back into the soil in order to get a good crop the next season. The fashion industry doesn’t always approach it from that point of view.”

    Following is a short list of stylish sources for vegan accessories:

    Handbags, Messenger Bags, and Laptop Cases

    Matt &Nat

    Heidi & Adele

    Canopy Verde

    Ono Creations

    Tom Bihn

    Urban Expressions

    Belts and Accessories




    PETA’s List

    PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) now has a PETA-Approved Vegan logo, and offers a longer list of designers that offer non-leather accessories.

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