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How to make a smart and sustainable choice when it comes to bags

Vegan leather, recycled or leftover leather labels that help you make a more sustainable, smart and stylish accessory choice.

As sustainability becomes the most used buzzword in the world of fashion, it’s time to investigate what makes a brand sustainable. It’s preposterous to assume that a brand can put into use 100% sustainable practices and often words like ‘ethical’ ‘sustainable’ and ‘homegrown’ are misinterpreted. Therefore it is important for brands to be transparent about the sustainable practices put into place. Yet in the same breadth, each aspect and act that a brand puts into the sustainable direction is one we are ready to hop on board with.

The first step in picking a sustainable brand is investigating its materials. From this standpoint, we look into the materials used by some of our favourite homegrown brands. An alternative and more environment-friendly approach to leather, these brands pick materials that are kinder to the earth with styles that suit our design sensibilities.

Whether you’re entwined in a conflict between vegan or real leather. A vegan lifestyle is said to drastically reduce your carbon footprint (almost by 70%),whereby picking vegan leather accessories certainly adds to that number. Meanwhile, leather is said to be more durable and long lasting, plus calf leather is often seen as a byproduct of the food waste industry. In the midst of this debate, there are alternatives to leathers – materials that help you achieve the same while using natural materials. Diving deep into these myriad categories, we pick 4 accessory brands to help you understand the options the sustainability style book offers you.


Mistry bag
Image: Courtesy Mistry

What material do they use: Mistry uses ethically sourced genuine leather that is a by-product of the meat industry. The brand believes in mindful production practices, which basically means they produce their delightful range of trendy bags in small batches to ensure minimal or no wastage.
Why we love it: Mistry literally means craftsmen, and this homegrown label allows its artisans to give the finishing touches to their products. Inspired by a modern Indian aesthetic, the label captures our attention with its bold colours and shapes. Their claim to fame is the crescent shaped Selena bag that is available in a variety of colours and prints.  Don’t be misled by the sleek look of this silhouette as the bag is amply spacious and can carry your phone and a whole gamut of little accessories.
Where to buy: www.shopmistry.com


Image: Courtesy Chamar Instagram

What material do they use: Chamar uses recycled rubber from industry leftovers or discarded materials and turns them into sturdy, easy wear and wash pieces..
Why we love it: The brand’s name is drawn from the Sanskrit word that is often used derogatively to describe the Dalit community who work in the leather industry as cobblers or tanners. Treated as untouchables, the label employs this section of society in a bid to help them live a respectable life. The label was started after the 2015 beef ban in India left a major chunk of these artisans unemployed. Unconventional materials like cotton, latex, canvas and rubber tyre sheets are used to create avant-garde woven carry-ons with exquisite finish.
Where to buy: www.chamar.in


Hydes Studio
Image: Courtesy Hydes Studio

What material do they use: At Hydes Studio, picking responsibly leather sourced is of utmost importance. They only work with tanneries that boast of LWG certification, a third-party verification company that checks on the environmental performance of leather production. This ensures that the leather is manufactured in a sustainable way  for instance the effluent goes through the RO process and is used for irrigation.
Why we love it: If you’re a fan of beautifully aged leather bags that deepen and soften with time, Hydes is your guilt-free option. Handcrafted by local artisans in Chennai, Hydes Studio believes in creating local employment, uses upcycled cotton packaging, promotes slow fashion all while giving you bags with precise cuts and smart styles. Where to buy: www.hydesstudio.in

Mio Borsa

Mio Borsa
Image: Courtesy Mio Borsa Instagram

What material do they use: If you’re looking for an alternative to leather that still looks and feels like leather than vegan leather brand, Mio Borsa is here for your aid. Created from pineapple stem extract called pinate which gives a leather-like shine, this homegrown label’s pieces are as delectable as its tropical ingredient.
Why we love it: Founded by Pallavi Behl, this Delhi-based label creates modern, lightweight and functional pieces such as bucket bags, crossbody bags and totes that are ideal for everyday use. At the same, the subtle woven handles make these bags stand out. Mio Borsa meaning ‘my kind of bag’ is really the sustainable eye candy we were looking for.
Where: www.mioborsa.in

How to make a smart and sustainable choice when it comes to bags

Akshita Nahar Jain

Sr Associate Editor

Akshita Nahar Jain has worked with various publications, including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar Bride, and Time Out Delhi, and written extensively on fashion and lifestyle. A sucker for alliteration and stylish sitcoms, she enjoys scrolling the web for less travelled destinations.

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