Vegan leather bags are getting back to normal

This text is part of the special Plaisirs booklet

Vegan leather has, in recent years, gained the upper echelons of the fashion industry, with the eco-responsible house Stella McCartney in the lead. And the vegan revolution is underway in Quebec too! Forget synthetic leathers that crackle with wear after barely a year: materials have evolved to the point where some so-called vegan leathers now imitate real leathers to near perfection. Bluffing! And even if its production methods have been refined to become more and more eco-responsible, the bad reputation of synthetic leather continues to stick to its skin. Will vegan leather replace animal leather?

Like real leathers, not all vegan leathers are created equal. If your last experience with a faux leather handbag was inconclusive, you may well revise your positions. Between polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), which remain two petroleum by-products, the choice is still clear, according to Maddie Ciccone, director of handbag products for retailer Bentley. “Unlike PVC, which is stiff and cracks easily, PU offers a leather-like feel,” she says. It is flexible, soft and very light. “

Additional advantage: polyurethane is biodegradable, recalls the founder of the Lambert brand, Mélissa Lambert, for whom this material remains the best compromise for the environment, considering the quality / price ratio. “And PVC, which is less resistant, generates more waste, because we have to replace our bag more often. It’s a vicious circle ! “

To move more towards eco-responsibility, several handbag manufacturers are also using nylon made from recycled water bottles as a lining. This is particularly the case with the Bugatti Group, which designs a wide range of bags and suitcases. “More and more, we are moving towards products made from 100% recycled materials,” says Vice-President, Sales and Product Development, Stéphanie Beaudry.

At Matt & Nat, which has also been using recycled nylon for a few years inside its bags, PVC is gradually being replaced by PVB, a resin made from the glass of old windshields.

Mélissa Lambert also believes in the importance of moving away from virgin materials. “The challenge is to find quality recycled materials that are as resistant as the others. In the spring of 2022, we will launch a collection of bags made entirely from recycled water bottles, ”she announces.

Upcoming trends

Next revolution in the world of vegan bags? 100% vegetable leathers that allow recycling agricultural residues such as pineapple leaves. If they are still very little exploited, among other things because of the high production costs, some companies, like Rose Buddha, have rubbed shoulders with them, with success.

“My dream would be to launch an eco-luxury collection in apple leather,” says Mélissa Lambert. She is not alone. Other promising materials, such as cork or mushroom or cactus leather, also attract the attention of large groups. The revolution has only just begun!

Six brands from here

Quality vegan leather bags aren’t just the prerogative of big international fashion houses. The proof is six creations designed by us.

1. Lambert

The brand renowned for its versatile backpacks and chic diaper bags will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2022. This fall, Lambert has, in addition to opening a boutique on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal, launched a collection of bags crocodile style, products still certified by the animal rights association PETA.

Pictured: Charlie Multifunction Backpack ($ 139.99)

2. Bugatti

In the industry since the 1940s, the Bugatti Group designs its handbag collections in Quebec. The brand is also renowned for its suitcases and travel bags, in addition to its collaborations with personalities such as Maïka Desnoyers and Étienne Boulay.

Pictured: Valentino Vegan Leather Travel Bag ($ 115)

3. Bentley

Well-known retailer of suitcases and handbags, this Canadian brand, now based in Montreal, also creates its own collections. The latest one – Riona -, launched last November, includes a dozen models of bags and wallets in all sizes in eco-friendly vegan leather and approved by PETA.

Pictured: Soho A-Line Mini Crossbody Bag ($ 49.99)

4. Ollie

Launched this month, the range of bags from blogger Marie-Ève ​​Piché, aka Maman Caféine, was designed for moms looking for a utility bag first, but no less elegant. “I tested dozens of handbags and diaper bags […] to create the bag that I would have liked to have: super practical, ergonomic, light and resistant while being beautiful and original ”, she summarizes in a press release.

Pictured: Robinson Tote ($ 139.99)

5. Rose Buddha

Well known for its eco-friendly yoga leggings (they are made of a fabric made from recycled bottles), Rose Buddha has positioned itself as a pioneer in 100% vegetable-based leather. The Montreal brand has therefore opted for Pinatex, an innovative textile made from pineapple leaves.

Pictured: St-Laurent bag ($ 148)

6. Matt & Nat

An activist since its creation in 1995 for the protection of animals, this other Montreal brand offers timeless collections in vegan leather, whether PU or PVB, flagship materials of the Purity range.

Pictured: Abbi Tote ($ 140)

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