Cruelty-Free Bags That Are As Luxe As Leather | CoolJapan

If you've lived through the noughties, you'll know that synthetic leather bags was once stigmatised. They were seen as tacky, cheap and reserved only for those who can't afford 'the real thing'. But these days, with cruelty-free and sustainable movements gaining momentum, the tables have turned. Vegan leather is now a prized commodity. But even so, it's still a challenge to gain access to these alternatives. And it's partly because brands that do offer high-quality cruelty-free handbags are often under the radar. So if you're considering adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle, we've found some exceptional brands offering great alternatives that are just as luxe as leather.

Angela Roi

Established only in 2013, this young NYC-based brand has prided itself in producing premium-quality luxury handbags made with ethically sourced vegan materials. Even though they're a newcomer in the industry, Angela Roi has already garnered loyal fans. As an alternative to leather, they use EPUL (Exquisite Polyurethane Leather), which is meticulously processed to achieve that creamy 'leather' texture. In an interview with Forbes, the couple behind the brand shared their philosophy: "Love people and love animals and to make Earth a happier place to live, we have to love and protect them."

LaBante London

When we think of recycled or upcycled goods, what come to mind are artisanal hand-made products that can be found at the local farmers market. However, that's just one form of upcycling. It may seem surprising but recycled materials can also be transformed into luxury goods. LaBante London is one of the brands known for creating top-notch luxury handbags and accessories of only recycled materials. The main textile that they use is recycled polyester made from single-use plastic bottles (PET bottles). LaBante London believes that with this system, plastic dumping in landfills and oceans will be lessened, or at the very least, won't add to the problem. 


Although not explicitly advertised as a cruelty-free label, CECIL McBEE is still a good brand for scouting animal-friendly bags. Most of their products are made from superior faux leather and cotton. If you love fresh and dainty designs, you'll be delighted with the brand's selections in playful and feminine colour palettes. Unfortunately, direct purchase from the site is only available for Japanese residents. As of now, you can buy products from retail websites or when you visit Japan.


The brand's name came from the combination of two words: material and nature. MATT & NAT believes in "living beautifully" and that means creating beautiful materials but also appreciating and respecting natural resources. From backpacks to totes, this vegan brand offers a diverse range of bag silhouettes more than other cruelty-free labels. Any minimalist would love MATT & NAT's clean and crisp aesthetic. Aside from bags, they also produce exquisite footwear and accessories that are made from various recycled materials.

Stella McCartney

A list dedicated to cruelty-free fashion labels isn't really complete without mentioning Stella McCartney — the queen of sustainable brands. A fierce advocate for ethical fashion, McCartney designs luxury pieces made from innovative and advanced materials that don't use traditional leather and fur but provide the same warmth and opulence. In 2017, she became the first recipient of the Fashion Awards Special Recognition Award For Innovation for her work in finding eco-friendly alternatives. Thinking of getting a piece from her label? Explore her small tote collection, which is a favourite among celebrities and style influencers. 

(Cover photo from: @angelaroi)

Next, learn how you can add colour to your minimalistic wardrobe.