If you’re buying for a vegan, there are lots of accessories out there that fly in the face of the idea that fashion and a plant-based lifestyle can’t be a stylish match. With ladies like Anne Hathaway, Ellen DeGeneres, and Natalie Portman photographed wearing gorgeous faux leather pieces on red carpets, “cruelty-free” is making an impact with A-listers as well as on the high street. What makes something vegan? These are pieces made without using animal products, so that means no leather, fur, silk, wool, feathers, bone or horn.
None of the pieces on this list contain any of those animal-derived fabrics, nor have any animal products been used in the adhesives or dyeing processes. Most of these are made from vegan leather, polyurethane, or PU, which is made from bonded fibres and looks close to real leather. It’s waterproof, breathable and durable and can be coloured and finished in a myriad of ways. There are also some super-sustainable faux leathers in the mix, such as cork. Many of the brands here also pride themselves on using sustainable materials where they can and making sure that the people working for them get a fair deal.
1. Wills Chelsea Boots: £78, Wills London
If you’re looking for quality, classic shoes, we recommend Wills London. Founded in the capital in 2012, its styles don’t change from season to season, so the emphasis is on durable footwear that will instantly become a wardrobe stable. The PU Chelsea boots are a case in point. The lucky recipient can rock them now with black tights and then bare legs come summer. These also come in black and chestnut.
2. Olivia Burton Ladies’ Big Dial Vegan Friendly Watch: £80, Watchshop
You might be familiar with Olivia Burton’s striking, affordable watches. They come with a range of dial sizes, metals, and some decorative dials. There are nine with vegan straps – made of PU with no animals fats in the adhesives and no animal products used in the dying process – and our pick is this wear-with-everything black and silver with a dial large enough to make it a statement. If you prefer something more colourful, there are a number of new designs coming to the Olivia Burton website with pretty pastel-coloured straps.
3. Emj Phoenix Clutch: £58, The Emj Company
Emj is known for its beauty and hair kit for those that work in the industry – we’re talking brush belts, make-up kit bags and those pouches that store scissors and hair clips that you see hairdressers wearing. The brand has also turned its hand to vegan accessories. There are totes and glam clutches in lots of different finishes. We like the clutches that also double up as iPad holders. It has a foam lining to help protect your tech, or if you’re using to finish off a party outfit, there is a zip to keep or your valuables safe.
4. Kitsch Bar Vegan Leather Hair Tie Set: £14.15, My Kitsch
Always have an elastic hairband around your wrist? Upgrade with one of these, designed to look like bracelets. They’re made from high-quality PU with metal hardwear. They come in four different designs and there is also a handband version. Despite looking like jewellery, they’re kind on the hair but better suited to thinner tresses as they aren’t as stretchy as some hair ties out there.
5. Matt & Nat Cerise Aries Backpack: £98, Trouva
Canadian accessories brand Matt and Nat has been blazing the trail for ethical fashion since its launch in 1995. It now makes a big range of bags, wallets and shoes using vegan and recycled materials. Our pick from the latest collection is this rich, dark cherry-coloured backpack in this sleek-looking design. The straps are adjustable and there’s a handy zipped pocked on the side as well as one on the inside for valuables and a pouch for your phone. The lining is made from 100 per cent recycled nylon. This one also comes in four other understated hues.
6. Beyond Skin Foxy Slippers: £130, Beyond Skin
What do you do if you can’t find any vegan shoes you like? Set up your own brand, of course. That is what the duo behind Beyond Skin did back in 2001. Now producing fashion-forward styles for women and men, the Brighton-based brand makes some of the most stylish vegan footwear we’ve seen. From its pewter monk strap flats to chic black thigh-high “Pixie” boots, there are loads we’re coveting. Our favourite from its recent collection though is these fun fox motif pumps. Handmade in Alicante, Spain, they are made from vegan suede and the nude lining is made from recycled PU with a plant-based coating. There are also bee and tiger designs in the range.
7. Wilby Black Bailey Saddle: £70, Wilby Clutch
Another British brand, Wilby makes fashion-led vegan pieces and uses eco-friendly materials where it can. It has some of the chicest bags we’ve seen in its range and if sustainability is at the top of your agenda, check out the Bailey range. All the bags are made from lightweight cork leather and the material is the star of the show here – there’s no lining and it’s super-simple, with just a pouch compartment on the front for anything you need close to hand. This one comes in four colours.
8. Create & Case Artist Designed Purse: £29.99, Etsy
Create & Care makes striking cruelty-free pieces featuring artwork by contemporary designers. This copper and navy pattern caught our eye. Inside, you get 12 card slots and a zipped compartment for cash. It’s made from vegan leather and a proportion of money from the sale goes to the designer, so those involved in the making process get a fair deal.
9. LaBante Cabriole Vegan Tote Bag: £119.90, House of Fraser
Founded in London, LaBante makes sleek bags crafted from super-soft PU. The brand’s ethos is “Fashion with respect” and it applies that philosophy to the materials used. As well as being free from animal products, the likes of linings and swing tags are made using recycled materials. Designs err on the classic side, like this structured tote with three inner compartments (the middle one zips up). It’s a versatile bag with a detachable shoulder strap and we think it will be a good one for your work-day essentials.
10. Susie Faulks Bluetit Oilcloth Purse: £15, Etsy
All of Susie Faulks’ nature-inspired designs are made in the UK and are Peta-approved vegan. This oilcloth pouch, adorned with blue tits and white apple blossom, can work as a purse or make-up bag (it has a handy waterproof lining).If you like the pattern, there is also a cross body bag, washbag and handbag in the range, or other designs include fox, deer and wild hare.
11. M.R.K.T Kendrick Backpack: £99, M.R.K.T
Los Angeles-based M.R.K.T (it stands for Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger) makes pieces inspired by architecture. They’re structured, uncomplicated and functional, with a distinctive look that sets the brand apart. The pieces are made with sustainable, vegan-friendly materials. This boxy backpack is made from a combo of durable felt and vegan leather, it will fit a 13-inch laptop and the straps are adjustable.
12. Cri de Coeur Leah Wallet: £35, You’re So Vegan
Though British brands are well represented on this list, there are also so great options from across the pond. Cri de Coeur makes luxe-looking shoes and bags from high-quality vegan materials – we currently are after a pair of the over-the-knee flat boots made from ultrasuede (created from recycled plastics). There is also a range of accessories, including this snake-effect wallet with an orange lining that will ensure you can see it in your handbag. There are more than ten slots for cards as well as an ID window and a zipped compartment for cash.
13. Melie Bianco Inez Snakeskin Clutch: £45, You’re So Vegan
From LA, Melie Bianco nails the laid-back but still pulled-together Californian vibe with its handbags. Think roomy totes with tassels and easy-to-wear cross-body bags, all made from high-quality PU. They are not easy to come by over here, but UK cruelty-free fashion specialists You’re So Vegan stocks a few styles, including this snakeskin-effect clutch with an optional shoulder strap. Choose from beige or goes-with-everything black.
14. Free People Vegan Addison Heel Boot: £108, Free People
Here’s another entry from the US. Not all Free People’s shoes are vegan but the ones that tick that box are our favourite of the boots we’ve seen. These ankle boots with a block heel and a round toe come in four colours. Our favourite is this burgundy pair that makes a change from black and we like the fact that whatever colour you get, it runs onto the heel. Free People suggests that if you’re between sizes, you should get the next size up.
15. Bourgeois Boheme Emily Boot: £245, Bourgeois Boheme
The Emily boots from Bourgeois Boheme were voted "Best Cruelty Free Shoes" in PETA's 2016 fashion awards and we can see why. Made from soft PU that's a deadringer for the real deal, this knee-high, heeled pair with a contrasting fawn-coloured sole are chic, while still looking laid-back enough that they work for every day. Handcrafted in Portugal, they have a plant-based lining that ups the sustainability factor.
The Verdict: Vegan accessories
For something they’ll get loads of wear out of, we’d go for Wills London classic Chelsea boots. If it’s a stocking filler you’re after, try one of Susie Faulks’ versatile pouches. Handbag addicts will appreciate LaBante’s sleek, structured pieces.
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