In recent years, the market for vegan leather has exploded. Many of the best sustainable bag brands have turned to vegan leather alternatives that are just as stylish, versatile, and long-lasting as the real thing. New vegan leather picks from some of the top sustainable fashion brands, like Everlane and Santos by Monica, utilize cactus leather. Meanwhile, luxury brands like Stella McCartney and, most recently, Chloé have relied on vegan leathers for their accessories and sustainable footwear collections.
The number of designers and consumers supporting sustainable fashion is growing. According to Natalie Tomlin, a spokesperson for ThredUP, an online thrift store, and resale platform, their 2022 Resale Report found that 56 percent of consumers say brands should play more of a role in reducing fashion's environmental impact.
The push for more sustainability is felt from the brand side, too. "I feel like many brands want [to create] luxury items that are sustainable and don't harm animals," says Noel Veloz, the Founder & Creative Director of New York-based accessories brand Hemincuff. "I want to pick the best materials that also have longevity," he adds, and vegan leather bags might last longer in your collection than the real thing. "They're often easier to clean when compared to leather, and they're more resistant to cracking."
The first step in trading your leather goods for the alternative? Do your research. "A whole host of things can be used to create vegan leather bags," says Whitney Bauck, an independent environmental reporter who contributes to outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Financial Times. "While innovative new leathers derived from materials like cactus, mycelium, or food waste tend to get a lot of buzz, plastic or other fossil fuel derivatives are probably still the most common materials. Natural materials like pineapple or cactus fibers might require a plastic coating, binding, or base," she says.
Luckily, designers are increasingly moving away from plastics to offer consumers high-quality options. Plus, we've already done most of the work for you. Ahead, we've vetted the best vegan bags on the market right now.
Best Crossbody Vegan Bag
I was having a hard time finding a great crossbody bag that feels discreet and elevated, and this bag from Hemincuff is my new favorite. It holds all my essentials and has an adjustable shoulder strap, so it doesn't look too long on my petite frame. It also has a luxe-feeling design that goes with all my semi-formal outfits.
Best Work-Friendly Vegan Bag
This black tote is the perfect laptop bag and made from prickly pear cactus. It also has all the fixings of a great work bag: an adjustable strap and interior pockets for easy storage.
Best Red Vegan Bag
Summer means it's safe to venture away from the little black bags of the world and try something new. This bag's vibrant exterior uses cactus fibers, and its lining is 100% organic cotton.
Best Designer Vegan Bag
Stella McCartney was a pioneer in the sustainable fashion space. You can now shop her iconic Falabella clutch in a rich royal blue hue through ThredUP.
Best Vegan Belt Bag
Belt bags (also known as fanny packs) will continue to be trendy throughout 2023. This bag from celebrity-adored brand Senreve is the perfect modern addition to the trend. Style it as a traditional fanny pack or a crossbody for an easy, hands-free approach.
The Fashion Insider’s Best Vegan Leather Bag
Nanushka has long been a favorite of editors for its range of vegan leather handbags perfect for day or nighttime wear. This one has a relaxed silhouette and comes in fun colors (hot pink! Kelly green!), but the black option is a great place to start.
Best Vegan Leather Weekender Bag
I can't say enough great things about Angela Roi. Every time I wear the Grace mini crossbody, shown here, or the Hamilton crossbody, I get so many compliments—for the color and the quality. The NYC–based luxury handbag brand prioritizes ethical sourcing and attention to detail.
Best Mini Vegan Leather Bag
How cute is this mini bag from SINBONO? It's made from vegan leather with a faux-suede lining on the inside.
Best Vegan Leather Clutch Bag
This matte-finish bag has a detachable shoulder strap for peak versatility. It’s made from Vegan PU (polyurethane) leather and has a lining made from 100% recycled materials.
Best Patent Vegan Leather Bag
This vegan leather bag shines bright thanks to its glossed finish. Its sleek silhouette and retro details have made it one of the season’s most in-demand bags—ready for a night out.
Best Vegan Leather Wallet Bag
This vegan leather wallet-on-a-chain from HOUSE OF WANT is great for holding the essentials. It retails for only $68 and comes in a few fun colors like bright purple, apricot pink, and a black-and-white gingham print.
Best Two-Tone Vegan Leather Bag
If you can’t decide between two colors, this two-tone bag has both for easy styling. The vegan PETA-approved leather material is made from 58% recycled materials and features a 100% recycled microsuede lining.
Best Croc-Embossed Vegan Leather Bag
This affordably-priced bag from cult-favorite bag brand J.W PEI is so cute and comes in a ton of colors, including this mint green, sky blue, and a pastel butter yellow.
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Julia Marzovilla is the E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers everything from the latest beauty and fashion launches and sales to celebrity outfits and news. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and STYLECASTER. In her spare time, Julia can be found creating shopping guides for all of her friends, spending too much money on yet another pair of black boots, and cooking in her far-too-small kitchen.
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