Staff Guide | Updated November 2016
Ethically Made Handbags & Purses
As consumers we're passionate about knowing wether the people that make our clothes and accessories have fair wages and environmentally safe working conditions. Below we've compiled a list of our favorite brands ethically producing gorgeous and functional totes, handbags and weekenders for everyday use, summer travels and beyond.
Among this list are American Made, upcyled, vegan and artisan made bags from companies dedicated to both social and environmental good. From travel to work, or a night out, these 16 brands make it easier to fill your closet with ethical, high quality staples for every occasion.
This guide is sponsored by Seek Wander Share, a one-stop-shop for a curated collection of beautifully handmade artisan products. Seek Wander Share partners with talented artisans to bring you beautiful and inspired products while supporting the economic and social development of artisan communities around the world. Shop Their Collection Of Artisan Made Handbags
Ethics | Fair Trade, Artisan Made
Best For | Weekender Bags
Price Range | $138 - $350
Tribe Alive works to alleviate poverty among women, through fashion and responsible commerce. By providing their employees with fair-trade wages, safe working conditions, and training, they are able to provide opportunities for disadvantaged and impoverished women around the world. Each of their handbags are handmade, and represent the culture of the woman who created it - with styles from Guatemala and Haiti, there is truly a look for everyone. Plus, they love customer feedback and use suggestions for their upcoming looks! Hope is their message, and fashion is their medium.
MATT & NAT
Ethics | Vegan, Recycled/Upcycled Materials, Fair Trade
Best For | Wide Selection of Handbags (Satchels, Diaper Bags, Yoga Bags, Crossbodies)
Price Range | $50 - $250
You might think Matt & Nat stands for two people, but the name actually represents Mat(t)erial and Nature. Born out of Montreal, Canada in 1995, Matt & Nat believes in living beautifully and appreciating humanity and the world around us. Committed to being sustainably and eco-friendly, all of their bags are made with vegan materials only, including recycled bicycle tires and rubber. In fact, their handbag linings are made with 100% recycled plastic bottles! They also have deep partnerships with the factories who create their beautiful products, and hold them to the highest safety standards. With over 20 different categories for bags, ranging from bowling bags, to men’s shoulder bags, made with beautiful, vivid colors, the opportunities are endless.
Ethics | Artisan Made, Empowerment of Women
Best For | Premium Leather
Price Range | $120 - $400
Parker Clay’s values center around being good to one another, creating economic and social empowerment, and making the best products possible. After Ian and Brittany Bentley saw living conditions in Ethiopia for disadvantaged women while adopting their child Selah, they were inspired to do more - Parker Clay’s name comes from their two biological children Parker and Clayton. Today, they work to get women out of the commercial sex industry, and partner with the nonprofit Women At Risk to provide rehabilitation, training, and job opportunities to those in need. Now living in Ethiopia, the Parker Clay duo make this possible by using premium leather to create timeless, professional styles for the public. Their signature totes are sure to be your go-to bag, perfect for a visit to the farmer’s market or day trips to the beach.
SEEK WANDER SHARE
Ethics | Artisan Made, Social Enterprise
Best For | Indigenous Styles, Colorful Totes
Price Range | $145+
Seek Wander Share is committed to creating a positive social and economic impact for artisan groups, their families and communities. Through partnering with talented artisans to create beautiful and inspired jewelry, accessories and handbags, they support the economic and social development of artists around the world. Their beautiful handmade products are created to inspire you to chase your dreams, set out on new adventures and connect with the world around you.
PURSE & CLUTCH
Ethics | Artisan Made
Best For | Wallets
Price Range | $38+
The online based boutique partners with artisans in developing countries who create their products with an emphasis on both design and quality. Purse & Clutch has a mission to help support sustainable, long-term employment for men and women with limited opportunities by connections to international markets. Their handbags are made with high quality, handwoven cotton fabrics, vegetable dyed & tanned leather as well as recycled materials when possible.
Ethics | Fair Trade, Artisan Made, Vegan Leather
Best For | Unique Styles, Knowing Who Made Your Product
Price Range | $65 - $125
Nonprofit social enterprise Krochet Kids grew from the idea that a hobby as simple as crocheting could be used to change lives for the better. Started by Travis, Kohl, and Stewart back in 2008, this trio has empowered women in Uganda and Peru to get out of poverty through jobs, mentorship, and life skills training. Today, over 150 women have been a part of the movement for sustainable employment and opportunity, most of whom are featured individually on their website. Each of their pieces come signed by the woman who made it, and you can even go to their website to send a personalized thank you to them! What better way to get to know who made your product?
FUTURE GLORY CO
Ethics | American Made, Upcycled Leather, Empowerment of Women
Best For | Minimalist Style, Monogramming
Price Range | $65 - $625
Future Glory Co was started by women, for women, in an effort to support women. Based out of San Francisco, they believe that business is a means for social change, and therefore donate to local organizations dedicated to rebuilding the lives of women. The Future Glory Co team also has an Apprenticeship program that trains women who’ve been through hardships, providing them with trainings on business basics and sewing production. They are proud contributors of the American Made movement, and purchase most raw materials domestically as well - plus, the leather they use are by-products of the food industry with the remaining scraps donated to nonprofits and schools in the area. Their styles are perfect for an elegant night out, or for the chic fashionista who works in the business world.
STONE & CLOTH
Ethics | American Made
Best For | All-In-One Bags, Bags with ChargeVents for Laptop
Price Range | $95 - $195
Stone & Cloth believes that all children have the right to an education; that’s why each of their well-crafted and durable bags provide at least 25 hours of classroom learning with every purchase. The team partners with the Knock Foundation that also provides scholarships to children in Tanzania, enabling youth to reach their full potential. Their bags range from large rucksacks to bucket bags, all of which come in 4 staple colors (black, english tan, chambray, and waxed canvas). Some even include a ChargeVent so you can safely charge your laptop while you’re on the go - you’ll be the most prepared person in your network.
Ethics | Sustainably and Ethically Made
Best For | Men’s Selections
Price Range | $35 - $365
Everlane believes you should know your factories and your true price - so they provide 100% transparency with all of their products, including how much the product cost to make and exactly where they’re made. In addition to their staple products, they also have a “pay what you want” section where they donate proceeds to local nonprofits. There are dozens of styles for both men and women, and a price range suited to every consumer.
Ethics | Fair Trade, Artisan Made
Best For | Leather Styles, Classic Essentials
Price Range | $128 - $178
Nisolo hopes for a world where consumers know where their products were made and by who - and they are changing the game. They provide international market access, fair-trade wages, safe working conditions and more to their team around the world, who in turn create beautiful, timeless pieces that are longtime staples in your closet. Their line of women’s handmade leather totes are crafted in Peru, and are both stylish and sturdy. With handbags lined with artisanal Peruvian fabrics, you’re sure to stand out wherever you carry your bag.
FREEDOM OF ANIMALS
Ethics | Animal-Free, Green Environmentally-Friendly Facilities, American Made
Best For | Animal Lovers, Eco-Friendly
Price Range | $100 - $260
You can probably guess that Freedom Of Animals’ bags are animal-free, but did you know that their products are proudly all made in the US? Based out of New York, the FOA team believes in using eco-friendly material, green facilities, and local production for all of their pieces, marrying together form, function, and style. Most of their goods are named after elephants cared for by the Sheldrick Foundation in Kenya, while a portion of their proceeds benefit the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Their latest partnership is with Nikki Read, actress and humanitarian, who has created a lovely line of clutches and satchels ideal for a night on the town. A new handbag never felt so good.
Ethics | Artisan Made, Fair Trade, Empowerment of Women
Best For | Wide Selection of Leather Bags (Crossbody, Clutch, Bucket Bag, Totes)
Price Range | $29 - $429
Sseko is an ethical fashion brand best known for sandals, but they also sell gorgeous leather bags that support communities and economies in Africa. They employ high potential women in Uganda and East Africa to handcraft beautiful pieces, and in turn, provide jobs and scholarships to help their employees break the cycle of poverty. Activist and actress Sophia Bush is an ambassador for Sseko, helping to create their newest line of leather travel bags, just in time for your summer getaway. Our favorite is the Be Brave bucket bag, a simple reminder of what we can all do to make a difference.
ALICIA SAN MARCOS
Ethics | Artisan Made, Fair-Trade, Eco-Friendly Materials
Best For | Bold, Colorful Styles, Free Shipping on US Orders
Price Range | $165 - $275
Alicia San Marcos aims to provide access to quality education for children in Guatemala - proceeds from each of their ethically made accessories go towards buying school supplies for underserved communities. Each product is handcrafted and ethically made using longtime Mayan traditions by indigenous women in safe working conditions, and their sales have allowed them to donate over 32,000 pieces of supplies to Guatemalan orphanages and schools. Their take on classic handbags comes with bold colors, gorgeous recycled textiles, and plenty of space for whatever you need - think the Michael Kors Nylon bag, with a vibrant twist!
Ethics | Fair-Trade, Artisan Made, Ethically Sourced
Best For | Unique Styles, African Patterns
Price Range | 8 - 30 £
Mayamiko was first founded by Paola Masperi back in 2013 in Malawi, blending together contemporary designs with traditional African techniques. Sourced from the local market, their pieces include dip-dye cotton, upcycled materials, and reclaimed fabrics. Considered one of the UK’s leading ethical brands, Mayamiko is committed to transparency and handcrafted only ethically made products, with training, support, and fair wages for all of their workers. Each of their bags has a unique pattern and adds personality to any outfit - if you’re looking for something eclectic and meaningful, this is it.
EST WST COLLECTIVE
Ethics | Eco-Friendly, Fair-Trade, Artisan Made, Organic
Best For | Classic Styles, Waterproof Bags
Price Range | $35 - $120
Passionate about sustainable development, equality, and the environment, Est Wst Collective was started by a brother-sister duo out of Nepal and India. There, they work with local weavers and artisans to handcraft stunning bags, backpacks, and cases. Proceeds from each piece also go towards their Rural Development Fund, so you know you are sustainably employing a worker abroad and supporting the local community. Their fabrics and materials are representative of the Nepali and Indian styles, with Ikat and organic hemp denim - mix classic and culture for a bag you’ll use for years to come.
Ethics | Recycled and Upcycled Materials
Best For | Elegant Styles, Free Shipping, Monogramming
Price Range | $110 - $375
CUYANA lives by a simple mantra: “Fewer, better.” They believe that style is more important than fashion, and quality over quantity - and it shows in all of their gorgeously designed bags. Cuyana, which translates to “love” in Quechca, creates leather bags for the modern woman, with soft neutral colors and enough space for just what you need. They also believe in one of our favorite concepts: the lean closet; they’ll provide a reusable bag with each order, which you can fill with clothes you no longer need that will then be donated and you’ll receive a $10 credit per donation. Let’s all look to be more intentional, sustainable, and live by “fewer, better”.
RAVEN & LILY
Ethics | Fair-Trade, Organic Materials, Sustainable Employment
Best For | Eco-Friendly, Minimalist Designs
Price Range | $64 - $242
Raven & Lily is a certified B-Corporation passionate about empowering formerly marginalized women from around the globe. They provide fair-trade wages, sustainable employment, health care, and other benefits to help break the cycle of poverty, and create women’s handbag essentials in the process using organic cotton or locally-sourced leather. To date, they employ over 1500 women and are committed to handcrafting the very best in products. Each of their products includes who made it, where, and what it can hold. Their designs crafted in the “slate” style are exquisite, and one of our favorite colors we’ve seen in a long time.