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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
It’s summertime, and the living is easy, as the song says. And that living gets a lot easier when you have a handbag that can hold everything you need.
And by ‘everything’, I mean all your summer essentials. At work, that would possibly be a change of shoes, so your work clothes can transform into an evening outfit, thanks to a great pair of heels. Or maybe a blanket and a book, so you can take lunch in the park in comfort.
On holiday, giant bags are especially great as carry-ons for the plane – just stuff your travel kits, laptop and maybe a magazine or two inside. They and also function beautifully on the beach: pack in your sunblock, beach towel and some snacks. Basically, I’m pretty sure that one of these supersized vegan bags is about to become your summer love.
These supersize bags are a sustainable dream come true! Not only are they are exquisitely stylish, but they also use natural materials, such as cork, bamboo, organic cotton and reclaimed wood. Besides their environmental strengths, ONO also ensures social ethics by aligning with standards set by the FairWear Foundation and the International Labour Organization, to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for their employees. But let’s talk about their Summer Love bags: huge, durable and in neutral shades – but what we love most of all is how they hang uniquely over the shoulder.
Wear it: to yoga class – your mat could even fit in here!
The talented designer is dedicated to environmental responsibility, always avoiding leather, skins, feathers or fur in any of her creations. Lately, Stella has upped her eco game, opting for recycled and forest-friendly fabrics. Her latest collection includes gigantic logo totes in cream. Spacious, practical and neutral, these are a celebration of Stella’s vibrant style.
Wear it: with just about any outfit, anytime, anywhere!
This New York based company specialises in bags that a sturdy, stylish and of course, sustainable, thanks to the organic cotton canvas and recycled polyester and water bottles they’re constructed from. Their Catalina weekender bags are ideal for the eco-conscious traveller. They come in an array of shades, fit over the shoulder perfectly, and are suitable for both genders. But what we love most is the zippable compartment at the bottom for storing shoes – a great idea that keeps your clothes smelling fresh, and saves you the plastic bags that you probably normally wrap shoes in.
Summer’s a time for travelling, and as any eco-gypsy knows, that can take a toll on your luggage. After being dragged on and off transportation and in and out of countless hotels, your bag is bound to fray around the corners a bit. Unless it’s this number from Paguro, that is! Made from upcycled rubber tyres, this Rika bag is great for travelling and is practically indestructible.
Wear it: when motorcycling around a new city, or when out camping
5. Gunas NYC
A favourite with influencers and Instagrammers, the Naomi tote by Gunas is made from recycled plastic bottles, comes in a dozen colours and is PETA approved, too. It’s the perfect everyday shopper to accompany you on a busy day out. Holds files, I-pad, wallet, keys, a water bottle, umbrella, makeup bag and all your essentials when you are on the go – you seriously don’t want to head out without this bag.
Wear it: every day!
6. Angela Roi
A favourite with animal loving celebrities, designer Angela Roi makes ethical style look undeniably elegant with well-constructed, modern designs in PU based vegan leather. This oversized tote zips up to keep all your stuff safe, and looks great slung over the shoulder or held in the crook of the arm.
Wear it: on a short city break – it’s big enough for your phone, guidebook, and any souvenirs you pick up.
7. Matt & Nat
This brand is constantly experimenting with materials, recycled plastic bottles, metals and bicycle tires, to create its elegant line of handbags. Their Loom Collection is an excellent choice for large, timeless totes – this one even comes with a small pouch inside that can be used as a clutch.
Wear it: to work, then detach the clutch if you’re going out after.
8. Melie Bianco
These premium quality bags look and feel like real leather, but without the cruelty. Fashionistas will love the slouchy Brigitte Tote, which is the perfect oversized bag for the weekend.
Wear it: with torn jeans and trainers.
This British label is an homage to the Italian Labante Caves situated near Bologna, which are classified as a European Site of Community Importance. LaBante expresses European style with this PU based, voluminous Demi vegan shoulder bag.
Wear it: on a night out. Take your toothbrush and a change of clothes in case things get crazy….
10. Sole Society
This Los Angeles retailer is committing itself to go fully vegan, and so far, its eco-friendly bags are gaining incredible success as function meets groove! If you want to rock some French flare, their Bretton striped Gunnar bag is the perfect choice.
Wear it: for a weekend away with your partner’s parents, or on a short city break
11. Muzungu Sisters
This ethically-sourced handmade luxury label loves doing prestigious collaborations – they just recently had one with Missoni – and also gained recognition from the United Nations, who bestowed their Fashion for Development Award for bringing artisan-crafted fashion to the forefront of international consumer trade. This vivacious, oversized straw and cotton cloth clutch just screams ‘boho chic’, as does everything in the Muzungu collections.
Wear it: when exploring the shopping areas in Bali or Goa, or pack your stuff in it at a summer festival.
And now for something completely different….! We found this yummy bag by Binge Knitting on FashionCompassion. Apparently it was inspired by Mexico’s architecture and textures, but for us, the Tassel Tote is more about Danish hygge. It’s roomy, crafty, and is the perfect holiday bag for fashionistas on the move.
Wear it: When travelling alone. It’s a great conversation starter!
A classic briefcase with a waxed microfiber shell, this briefcase offers a distinctive, yet nostalgic shape and a great deal of organization with three separate zippered compartments.
Wear it: on a business trip out of town, or for a job interview
This huge backpack may not be suitable for trekking around Europe, but it is perfect for city safaris! Whether you’re off to the gym after work, spending the night at the boyfriend’s or even going on a short break, this groovy backpack made from Piñatex is the perfect companion.
15. The Noces
Launched only a year ago, this brand’s vegan friendly raffia handbags, pouches and baskets are made with locally purchased materials from Madagascar. The Noces truly promotes the heritage of artisans, who create the handicrafts in line with the Malagasy Ministry of Handicraft and Culture. If you become one of their customers you will be pleased to know that you are purchasing with purpose, since The Noces gives 5-10% of their annual profits to charities operating in Madagascar.
Sight is a Los Angeles based brand that was founded by Ellie Liao in 2013, with the intention of avoiding the use leather or any other animal-based materials to create elegant vegan bags. The collection is also highly practical, with styles ranging from totes, messenger bags, and sleeves. Going to work with a Sight bag is both stylish and incredibly easy to handle, since their laptop bags eliminate the nuisance of having to carry personal belongings and the laptop in two different bags. The brand’s motto: “enjoy life and worry less,” perfectly reflects the elegant, yet comfortable design of every item.
Main image: ONO creations