The cruelty-free trend isn’t going away.
You’ve probably seen Matt & Nat‘s minimal bags and backpacks all over shopping malls, on transit and on campuses, and with good reason–the Montreal-based brand, founded in 1995, was one of the OG brands to offer vegan leather accessories to a virtually empty marketplace.
Over twenty years later, the vegan trend isn’t going anywhere. As of 2018, 2.3 million Canadians consider themselves vegetarian or vegan; an increase in 900 thousand since 2003. To keep up with the rising demand, a number of homegrown labels brandishing their cruelty-free credentials have cropped up in recent years.
Though faux leather has been around for ages, it’s now less cheap and more chic thanks to the growing cohort of people who aren’t down with the moral implications of consuming animal products. Most vegan leather is polyurethane, which yes, is plastic, meaning it isn’t the most eco-friendly material, but scientists at Iowa University are currently working to develop more vegan materials that aren’t so harmful to the environment.
In the meantime, you can still feel relatively good about buying from these five Canadian vegan accessory brands.
Jeane and Jax
Based out of Montreal, this PETA-approved vegan brand pride themselves on social responsibility. Their material is ethically sourced with environmentally safe hardware and are manufactured in top-quality facilities that have high air quality and temperature control for workers, equal pay for men and women and is an overall pleasant and safe environment. They have a sophisticated range of women’s and men’s bags and even super-convenient laptop bags.
Designed in Toronto, these delicate accessories are just as adorable as the name sounds. Pixie Mood has a large selection of styles and a colour palette that ranges from pastels to warm tones. For several bags they offer different interchangeable straps that easily convert from a crossbody a wristlet to suit your busy lifestyle or whatever look you’re going for.
Another vegan brand borne out of Toronto, Nella Bella is a 100 per cent cruelty-free and PETA-approved. They carry a variety of vegan leather accessories, as well as ones made of cotton, canvas and nylon. And you can feel extra good knowing that all of the leftover material from larger bags gets upcycled into coin pouches and wristlets.
Founded in 2002, S-Q has been making simple yet functional vegan leather accessories ever since. According to their site, The S stands for simplicity, and the q stands for quality. Not only is their products 100% cruelty free, they refuse to glorify animal products through fake animal prints or textures.
Poppy & Peonies
Designer Natalie Dusome founded the Poppy & Peonies in 2016 after the birth of her daughter Poppy, with functional fashion in mind. Dusome, a past designer at brands like Banana Republic, Fossil and Aldo Shoes, wanted to create bags that fit her needs as a new mom. The result? Diaper bags that look like regular handbags but are roomy enough to house a stash of baby clothes and a breast pump. They carry a wide variety of bags, jewelry and accessories made of materials such as straw and canvas, but all of their leather products are 100% vegan. Who doesn’t want to be cruelty-free while still looking feminine?
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