Over the past several months I’ve been working on sustainability research and reporting for the Material Innovation Initiative, a nonprofit helping to grow the next gen and plant-based materials industry. It’s been so much fun learning about all the gorgeous new materials being developed for fashion, interiors, cars, and more!
Next gen materials include alternatives to silk, leather, and wool that replace animal materials. These may be grown in a lab, manufactured in a factory, or even fermented.
Some of my favorite plant based leather accessories are made out of cactus, pineapple, and cork. These leathers are cruelty-free and a more sustainable option than animal leathers, on top of being unique and beautiful.
Here is a roundup of my favorite bags and accessories made out of these new plant based leather materials. With the holidays coming up, these make great eco-friendly gifts!
My 11 Favorite Bag and Accessory Brands that use Plant Based Leather
1. Kantala Handbags
Kantala merges everything you want in a handbag: style, eco-friendly and vegan materials, and a price that won’t drain your bank account. Kantala handbags use a variety of natural materials as well as artisan manufacturing to make them Earth-friendly, and the brand creates everything from wallets to totes.
2. Eve Cork Bags
You’ve heard of cork in artwork and even flooring, but now there’s cork leather? Eve Cork makes beautiful handbags from the bark of the cork oak tree. Harvesting this bark is actually healthy for the tree, so you get a stunning, plant-based handbag while helping cork oak trees live longer.
3. Colibries Backpacks
If you have a lot to carry on your commute, why put all the weight onto one shoulder when you could use a more comfortable and back-friendly backpack? Colibries allows you to do precisely that while protecting the planet with plant-based materials.
Colibries uses a unique plant-based washable paper that looks, feels, and acts much like leather. As beautiful as their backpacks are, the brand also makes a variety of other types of bags, as well as baskets and other home décor accessories.
4. Nae Vegan Shoes
When you want sustainable footwear, you have more options than just hemp sandals, and Nae Vegan Shoes is proof of that. This brand specializes in vegan leather and other beautiful vegan materials.
In addition to vegan leather, Nae uses natural cork, rubber, organic cotton, and coconut fibers to give their designers the freedom to make a range of styles and looks. Their show-stopping shoes run the gamut from hiking boots to stylish heels.
5. Happy Genie Handbags
Have you ever been enjoying a delicious apple and thought to yourself, “I wish I could wear this apple for a handbag?” You probably haven’t, but you will after you see the collection of Happy Genie handbags. These plant-based leather bags are made from apples, making them natural and sustainable with the feel of pure luxury.
6. EVEANDADIS Handbags
EVEANDADIS is a German brand with a range of beautiful handbags, purses, and backpacks. The EVEANDADIS shop is a perfect place to find all their beautiful products.
The brand uses a variety of natural materials to make different types of bags. Some are made with plant-based leather while others are made with cotton canvas, cork, or even Piñatex, a material made from pineapple leaf waste fibers.
7. Veerah Appeel Shoes and Accessories
Most brands that make plant-based leathers don’t specify which plants they use. With Veerah Appeel, though, you know exactly what you’re getting: leather made from apple peels. These peels come from apples that have been used to make apple juice, and typically, they would have been discarded. Veerah Appeel crafts them into gorgeous shoes and accessories.
8. Bark & Leaf Handbags
Leaves have been used in beautiful artwork for centuries, and even today, people flock to certain areas to watch the leaves change color in the fall. It’s only natural that someone would use leaves to make stylish handbags too.
Bark & Leaf crafts handbags with a variety of leaves and materials including lotus leaves, banana bark, rain-tree leaves, and bamboo tree leaves. Their bags also come in as many patterns, styles, and sizes as you can imagine, so there’s a look for everyone.
9. Laura Zabo Accessories
Laura Zabo’s accessories may not be made from plant based leather, but they’re made from another innovative material: discarded tires and inner tubes. Laura takes these tires that would otherwise be tossed into landfills, and she turns them into stunning belts, jewelry pieces, and other accessories.
10. Hozen Sustainable Bags
Hozen is all about conservation, and in fact, their name is Japanese for “conservation.” They use a variety of materials for their bags. Some bags are made from a grain-based leather, others from grain-based suede, the magical Piñatex made from pineapple leaves, recycled plastics, organic cotton, or other options.
The company’s Piñatex bags in particular offer a wide variety of looks, sizes, and purposes. There’s a look for everyone, from metallic glam to a classic black-and-white combo.
Plants aren’t the only parts of nature that can make gorgeous leather. Even their byproducts have potential if you know how to use them.
EthicaLiving makes a range of beautiful bags, wallets and purses made from cork and coconut paper leather. The bags are 100% vegan, lightweight, recyclable or compostable. The brand really goes the extra mile when it comes to sustainability. Even the mailing bags they use to ship out their bags are compostable!