The 8 Best Vegan Leather Purses for 2022

Montreal-based Matt & Nat’s is our go-to brand for animal-free bags.

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Many vegans eschew goods made with animal skins, including leather, for both environmental and ethical reasons. A far cry from its plasticky predecessors, vegan leather is now looking beyond cheap, petroleum-based PVC and the relatively cleaner-than-PVC polyurethane (PU is a popular option, though it still is petroleum-based).

Scaling the vegan handbag hotlist are bags made from plant leather (made from edible waste such as apple skins and pineapple leaves), which are more pliable and more eco-friendly, mimicking the texture and feel of animal-sourced leather. For our pick of vegan leather bags, we’ve sluiced through slings to pick those that are not only kind to animals but are also committed to green materials and ethical production as far as possible, without compromising on style.

Ahead, our picks of the best vegan leather purses, with a focus on timeless, all-season classics.

Best Overall: Matt & Nat

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ABBI VEGAN TOTE BAG - LOOM

Courtesy of Matt & Nat

Hold your life together with Montreal-based Matt & Nat’s affordable, ginormous collection of vegan purses. Look no further for large carryalls and out-of-hibernation fanny packs. Over the years, Matt & Nat has experimented with recycled materials such as cork, nylon, cardboard, rubber, before settling on 100% recycled windshield glass resin, also known as PVB (polyvinyl butyral).

The bags' interiors are green too, with the linings made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Each bag knocks off 21 bottles otherwise destined as detritus. Committed to ethical production, the company audits the factories it works with to protect workers’ rights, ensuring decent working conditions. What’s more, the company is exploring fruit fibers as it works towards its goal of becoming fully sustainable by 2023.

Best Budget: Urban Originals

Urban Originals LOVE SUCCESS HOBO BAG - TAN TEXTURED

Courtesy of Urban Originals

We’ve been eyeballing Urban Originals’ slouchy hobo and nifty half-moon bags to sling over our shoulder this summer. Available at delicious price points, a majority of Urban Originals’ multi-tasking bags are available for under $100. Operating from Sydney and Los Angeles, the bags are made from materials such as PU, sustainable cotton, canvas, and recycled nylons.

Using PETA-certified vegan leather, the brand is also SEDEX-approved, meaning it’s sourcing responsibly and following sustainable business practices. It also donates 10% of its profits for the cause of human rights. We’re sold.

Best Luxury: Stella McCartney

Frayme Medium Shoulder Bag

Courtesy of Stella McCartney

Wear your love for fellow creatures with Stella McCartney’s timeless bags, which are free from leather, feathers, fur, and exotic skins. Spurring the "fashionification" of cruelty-free materials in ‘It’ bags, the luxury fashion house has avoided the use of animal skin, and also kicked PVC and animal-derived glues out of its wheelhouse.

Using materials such as PU, polyester (and even recycled polyester), and sustainable viscose, Stella McCartney is now experimenting with the biobased unleather Mylo, sprouted from mycelium, the root structure of fungus. Whether you’re strutting about with the Maxi Falabella Tote or the Mini Stella Logo Crossbody Bag, you’re swishing an heirloom decked out with a conscience.

Best Backpack: LaBante London Agnes Brown Vegan Backpack

LaBante London Agnes Brown Vegan Backpack

Courtesy of LaBante London

A rucksack that’s good enough to take off the grid and stylish enough to wear to work, the Agnes backpack is made from vegetable-based PU, while the lining is made from recycled plastic bottles. We like that it has double inner compartments to keep everything we carry organized. Adding a touch of bling is a nifty chain attached to the zipper. The backpack comes packed in a dust cover sewn from organic cotton and fabric scraps.

What’s more, the PETA-certified brand produces the bags in SEDEX-certified factories. Founder Vanita Bagri ensures that women, who make up the majority of employees, thrive in her company. It also donates 10% of its profits to charities such as St. John’s hospice and Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Best Black: Von Holzhausen The Large Shopper

von Holzhausen the large shopper

Courtesy of von Holzhausen

Von Holzhausen’s luxury shopper in inky black is made from 100% vegan Technik-Leather, that’s durable, lightweight, and earth-friendly. Designer Vicki von Holzhausen’s eponymous brand leverages her automotive design experience to develop this cutting-edge leather from recycled materials. The result is vegan leather with a low carbon footprint and the ability to withstand hard knocks, resisting chafes, moisture, and stains.

The hearty hold of the Large Shopper is perfect for bring-it-just-in-case tendencies, and it has a soft suede-like microfiber lining made from recycled plastic water bottles. The light bag can be tossed over your shoulder or worn as a crossbody by simply adjusting the straps. With three pockets (one zippered), it’s a black beauty that blossoms with age.

Best Tote: LUXTRA Maya Vegan Tote

LUXTRA Maya Vegan Tote

Courtesy of LUXTRA

Every handbag from Certified B Corp LUXTRA’s collection is named after a magnificent woman who inspired its founder, Jessica Kruger. We love the elegant Maya tote, an ode to civil rights activist, unparalleled poet, and author, the late Maya Angelou. The Italian-made bag uses apple skin leather made from discards culled from the fruit juice industry’s waste. We dig the PETA-certified tote in stone grey, though it’s also available in Burgundy and Black & Blue (also in apple skin leather).

Its reinforced base prevents it from sagging, and has four internal pockets (one zipped) to stash your loot. Don’t let the color deter you; the tote can simply be wiped clean with a damp cloth. It comes wrapped in an organic cotton dust bag and is shipped in packaging that’s 80% recycled. LUXTRA donates £5.00 to charity with every purchase. You can also go for the soulful tote in other plant-based leathers such as Desserto, made from the leaves of organic Nopal cactus, or e-ULTRA, derived from the non-edible part of corn.

Best Clutch: GUNAS New York About Last Night - Red Vegan Clutch

GUNAS New York About Last Night - Red Vegan Clutch

Courtesy of GUNAS New York

Go glam, but make it vegan with GUNAS' traffic-stopping red statement clutch made from mulberry leather or MulbTex. Founder Sugandh G. Agrawal was inspired by the beautiful tradition of handcrafted paper made from mulberry leaves in Korea and developed a proprietary leather from the leaves, MulbTex. This leather alternative is plastic-free and waterproof. With time, it develops a gorgeous patina-like leather.

With a faux-crocodile skin texture, this slinky clutch has internal slip pockets and sparkling 22 karat gold-plated brass hardware. When you’re tired of nursing it in the crook of your arm, slip out the shoulder strap and let this featherweight beauty dangle by your side. The brand also gives back to multiple non-profits such as The Jane Goodall Institute and Vegan Outreach. We’re swooning already.

Best Small: Angela Roi Cher Micro

Angela Roi Cher Micro

Courtesy of Angela Roi

The miniature moneybag trend is quite alluring, but we’ve kept our pick of small bags right-sized with this pebbly-textured micro tote. Inspired by the ‘90s teen comedy Clueless, the Cher Micro is anything but that. The PETA-certified vegan leather bag comes with a magnetic closure, a zip compartment, and you can even buy a strap to wear it cross body.

Available in a slew of whimsical shades such as Coral Pink and Light Blue, it’s preppy enough for a party and practical enough to fit in a gloss, a tiny wallet, keys, your phone, and some more. We love the wee little red signet affixed in the bag, a reminder of the company's commitment to the community and its values.

Final Verdict

Our go-to for vegan bags is MATT & NAT, with its affordable, ginormous collection of vegan purses. Urban Originals’ bags made from materials such as sustainable cotton, canvas, and recycled nylons are also a great choice.

What to Consider When Shopping for Vegan Leather Purses

You’ve been eyeing that cutesy vegan clutch but are not sure whether it’s for you. We help suss out what to look for before you wade into the wondrous world of leather alternatives.

Materials

Is the bag plastic-free and made from plant-based leather? Or is it a PVC hold all? Are the bags ethically manufactured? Are the linings and the hardware sustainable? Also, keep a lookout for the PETA-approved vegan certification.

The world of vegan leathers is growing rapidly, with newer materials dropping ever so often. Read up on new materials, which come with lovely textures, fabulous designs, enhanced durability, improved eco-friendliness, and a whole lot of conversational value.

Need and Love

Since vegan leathers are less durable than their conventional counterparts, buy a purse that you really adore and will look after carefully and use faithfully. Shopping for second-hand bags is also a sustainable choice, although it can make avoiding animal products more of a challenge because it may not always be obvious what materials are in a pre-owned handbag.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is vegan leather?

    Also popularly known as faux leather, vegan leather isn’t made from the skin of animals. But not all vegan leather is eco-friendly. Popular leather alternatives include  petroleum-based synthetic leathers, PVC and PU. The inexpensive PVC or polyvinyl chloride poses a risk to the environment and human health. In fact, PVC has been labelled "poison plastic" by environmental organization Greenpeace. PU or Polyurethane is more flexible, less toxic, and is considered better for the environment than PVC.

    But these non-biodegradable options are being elbowed out by the more eco-friendly and highly innovative plant-based leathers. Fashioned from waste squirreled out from assorted vegetation and other natural materials, stylish satchels can be crafted from a wide variety of highly aesthetic vegan leathers, ranging from materials such as Piñatex made from pineapple leaf fibers, Malai crafted from discards of the coconut, and even leather from kombucha.

  • How do I clean vegan leather?

    Lightweight, cheaper, and thinner than real leather, vegan leather also has a shorter life span than the real thing and isn’t quite as durable, thus needs some TLC. Thanks to the non-porous surface of this material (vegan leathers usually have a plastic coating), cleaning it is as easy as a swipe of detergent and a gentle wipe. Let it dry off thoroughly. Vegan leather is also prone to cracking and flaking, so use a conditioner to keep it supple.

    Harsh sunlight can make your favorite vegan Hobo bag shrivel and crumble, so keep vegan leather away from direct sun exposure. When not in use, consider stuffing it with some clean parchment or packing paper (newspaper ink might stain it) and slide it in a dust bag, stashing it safely in a clean and dry place.

Why Trust Treehugger?

The leather industry’s track record of pollution, animal welfare, and environmental damage is a matter of concern. Our pick for this list of vegan leather handbags are kind, more eco-friendly (especially when choosing plant-based leathers over their plastic counterparts), and timeless.

Author Neeti Mehra writes about responsible luxury and is committed to slow and mindful living. Living a sustainable lifestyle, she strives to make kinder choices.