IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A CRUELTY-FREE BAG, DON’T SETTLE FOR A HEMP TOTE — MORE LABELS ARE OFFERING VEGAN FASHION OPTIONS AS THE DEMAND FOR ETHICAL PRACTICES INCREASES
Choosing a cruelty-free lifestyle doesn’t end at the dinner table. As new generations move towards more ethical lifestyle choices, fashion followers have a beef to settle with brands selling animal by-products.
Labels are now replacing leather with vegan materials for bags and accessories, and no, we’re not talking a hessian hemp tote — we’re talking stylish, strong and durable fabrics that look and feel like the real deal.
Melbourne label Sans Beast is one label selling a variety of cruelty-free accessories, offering wallets, handbags, backpacks and more in sleek designs and colours.
Founder Cathryn Wills was the creative director at Mimco before starting her own label that aligned with her vegetarian lifestyle.
She says global connectivity has increased people’s awareness of animal welfare, resulting in a higher demand for ethical and environmentally friendly products.
“As people become more mindful of the environment — raising animals en masse is a burden on the earth — combined with the recognition that cruelty is evident in the supply chain, I believe they are waking up and looking for alternatives,” Cathryn says.
“The time for finding vegan fashion is becoming easier and easier.
“Well Made Clothes is a wonderful site for ethical brands. This movement will only get stronger — it’s not a passing trend.”
Sans Beast uses sustainably-sourced polyurethane fabric in its collections. Cathryn says it’s more durable and versatile than leather.
“We source polyurethane from a quality supplier in southern China that ensures the chemicals it uses to make the colouration on the surface adhere to stringent international standards and are not at dangerous levels for human contact,” Cathryn says.
“We like to be transparent about that fact that we use PU, and that it is essentially a painted fabric, emulating a leather surface, yet not using animals as the building blocks.
“Getting PU wet is not an issue — it wipes clean and dry very easily.
“Generally it withstands scrapes and scratches more readily than leather, and it’s not prone to colour fade from sunshine.
“The most important trait, however, when considering (choosing between) PU or leather is to consider the life of the animal before it’s become your handbag, shoe, or leather jacket.”
Cathryn says her customers appreciate the transparency of Sans Beast’s business practices.
“I believe our customers have liked the honesty and authenticity that resonates within our Instagram and website,” she says.
“The feedback we’ve had is that the collections are stylish, quality and fashionable.
“While the use of non-animal materials is central to our ethos, I certainly aim for people to love wearing our bags. There just happens to be an added bonus of knowing they’re not killing a beast for the pleasure of fashion.”