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Style with a conscience

Five stunning vegan handbags for plant-powered fashionistas. By Victoria Featherstone Pearce

No outfit is complete without a handbag. Whether you are looking for shoulder bag, clutch, tote, carryall or crossbody bag then look no further, as I've chosen my top five brands with bags of style. All bags are, of course, vegan and ethically sourced - tried and tested by myself during my own search for planet-friendly, luxury fashion.

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FERRON

Signature Crossbody Vegan Bag in Blue

£185   www.ferron.co

Sustainability and cruelty-free living are central to FERRON, whose mission and purpose is to unify love for animals with the artistry of luxury. FERRON's founder, Ania, is a woman after my own heart.  Ania says: 'I love animals, and don't agree with using them to our advantage, whether that's food, entertainment or clothing. I want to demonstrate how a luxury fashion brand can push the boundaries to make products that are beautiful, sustainable and cruelty-free.  The leather alternatives do not just look good, they are also better for the environment!'.  The Crossbody Vegan Bag is small yet functional, giving it complete appeal in terms of look, feel and practicality. The exterior of the bag is structured and perfectly imitates the soft feel of pebbled leather that you would expect from a luxury leather bag.  It not only looks and feels luxurious - it's near impossible to know it's not made of leather but polyurethane (PU). PU provides the feel of animal leather, without harming a single being, and also has less than half of the environmental impact. The lining is made from microfiber, which is durable, but smooth to the touch.

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GUNAS

Koi Bag

£133  gunasthebrand.com

I absolutely love the classic look of this Koi quilted handbag - it's versatile and complements so many looks from casual-wear to more formal evening attire. The Koi reminds me of my old 1950s vintage Chanel bags, which I had for many years before I was vegan, however Gunas' bag is made without any animals being harmed.

The Koi is made with a textured eco-polyurethane, and a lining made from recycled plastic bottles. The metal elements are made from recycled metal hardware and plated with 18K gold!

Gunas offers a huge range of affordable luxury vegan handbags that are PETA approved and they also have a men's collection, too. Justice, empathy and compassion are core to the brand's values. They advocate conscious consumerism over fast fashion and make 'victim-free' fashion full of love for all.

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LABANTE

The Bella Mini Crossbody Bag

£119   labante.co.uk

Add a splash of colour to your wardrobe with LaBante's new range - The Bella Mini Crossbody Bag is part of their brand-new Weaver Believer collection, a micro collection focusing on versatile innovations. It is handwoven in 'Luxurious Blue Star Vegan Leather' using the highest quality hardware in luscious matt gold. This adorable bag also transforms from a handheld to a crossbody by simply using the detachable adjustable strap.

In the UK alone, 35.8 million plastic bottles are discarded every day. To combat this waste, LaBante only use recycled materials in their vegan handbags and purses, saving millions of bottles from reaching the oceans and landfill sites. One of the main selling points with The Bella is its stunning red recycled plastic bottle lining interior. The bag's polyester is made by breaking down single-use plastic bottles into pellets, these are then melted, cooled and spun into yarn.

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KINDS OF GRACE

Paradisio Polished Satchel

£144  kindsofgrace.com

Kinds of Grace hail from Australia and are the makers of the stunning Paradisio Polished Satchel. It is glamourous and striking, with vivid jungle colours and faux snakeskin.

It's also practical, with a structured top handle and a detachable shoulder strap. Spacious design makes it practical for both day and night looks.

Owner and chief designer, Grace, tells me about the brand's values: 'We're 100 per cent vegan owned and run, and we're on a mission to help shift the world to kinder accessories.

Our motto is: Wild beauty, zero cruelty. All our items are handcrafted, ethically made and use 100 per cent cruelty-free materials.'

Definitely keep an eye on 'Kinds of Grace'- they have exciting new designs to come, as well as a new collection crafted from eco-friendly Piñatex made from pineapple leaf fibres

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AMSCHELA

Mini Cobalt Blue Faux Croc Bag

£280   amschela.co.uk

The vegan Mini Cobalt Blue Faux Croc bag designed by Amschela is truly gorgeous and a real showstopper that will complement a glam evening look. It's made from 100 per cent PU 'leather', which is very durable as the material doesn't dry out over time.

Ordinarily, real crocodile skin is sourced in the most horrific way on farms where crocs are skinned alive - just to be used to make 'luxury' handbags for fashion brands. How could anyone buy into this? There is simply no need. Amschela has proved you can be ethical and still look glamorous.

Whilst the Mini Croc bag is currently the only vegan bag in range, going forward, all new designs will be cruelty-free. Kerri, CEO, founder and designer says she became more conscious of the environment and the treatment of animals after shifting to a healthier diet last year and the cruelty-free shift of the brand went from there. Non-vegan fashion brands turning totally vegan is music to my ears and embeds the future of fashion as most definitely ethical and cruelty-free..

DID YOU KNOW ?

Fashion fact of the month
Many people happily wear leather because they believe that it's a by-product of animal slaughter for meat and therefore a form of recycling... But leather is actually a co- Product of the meat industry. So, by buying leather you are supporting the meat industry.  
Raising animals for food and/or leather requires huge amounts of feed, pastureland and water. Turning skin into leather requires massive quantities of energy and dangerous chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes and finishes, many of which are cyanide-based.
Most leathers are chrome-tanned - a lot of which gets washed away into fresh water supplies during the process. People who work in tanneries or live close by often suffer from cancer and lung damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals used to process and dye leather.

For more from Victoria Featherstone Pearce, follow @victoriapearcewriter

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.