Featured image: The Weekender Bag by Banda Bags. Photo courtesy of Banda Bags.
Introducing luxury handbags that leave their mark on the fashion industry without damaging the environment.
Banda Bags bandabags.com
“Banda Bags was born out of adventure and discovery,” says founder Brianna Jane. The company came to life when the founder was filming a docu-series on natural medicine in Indonesia. “I found myself in a wild area of Sumatra that is completely off the beaten path, known for its rich coffee and devout Muslim culture,” according to Jane. “I did not create these bags. I discovered them!” The company really took shape when Jane realized that this traditional art was becoming obsolete and that she could create an opportunity to empower female artists and revive traditional techniques, while supporting the environment.
The Weekender Bag
Perfect for a weekend away, a carry on, or when you need a little more space, the Weekender Bag is one example of the fine handcrafted embroidery that is a mainstay among Banda Bags.
From start to finish, Banda Bags considers its impact on the planet. The base of the bags are made from recycled nylon, along with recycled polyester for the thread, and organic cotton for the insert bag. And finally, recycled, corrugated boxes are used for shipping. “Seeing that fashion has the power to influence the masses, there’s a unique opportunity to use it as a platform to educate the masses about sustainability, and how our choices affect the planet,” adds Jane.
The Banda Tote Bag
The Banda Tote Bag is a must-have for the summer. Not only is it functional, but it features handmade traditional designs that bring a piece of art made by Sumatran artisans into your everyday wardrobe. Large, comfortable shoulder straps, a roomy interior, and zippered pockets bring function and sustainability within reach
Gemma Backpack Purse by Svala. Photo by Mikel Roberts.
Svala came to fruition when the founder, Helga Douglas, was searching for a bag that was stylish and sustainable, but came up short. “I found it hard to find brands that represented the values that I was looking for, so I decided to create my own,” says Douglas. The company specializes in luxury, vegan handbags that have been handcrafted from innovative PVC-free fabrics, such as Italian vegan leather, Pinatex® — made from pineapple leaf fibers — cork and recycled plastic bottles. “We are also in the process of introducing a new vegan leather into our range that is made with recycled polyester and bio polyols,” according to Douglas.
This elegant addition to any outfit is made from vegan leather PU (polyurethane) and lined with recycled polyester that is made from plastic bottles combined with organic cotton. The vegan leather PU is sourced from Italy, “from a family-owned factory that supplies various high-end European luxury designers,” says Douglas.
Gemma Backpack Purse
The Gemma Backpack Purse is elegantly versatile, easily transforming from a convenient backpack to a sophisticated handbag. Handcrafted with high-quality, luxurious Italian vegan leather, and embossed faux snake-skin, or velvety cork, this bag embodies the Svala brand.
Lidia May lidiamay.com
Lidia May, like several other sustainable brands, has been influenced by the growing industry of fast fashion and trying to combat low prices and the concept that clothing is disposable. “The fast fashion business paradigm is so pervasive that many entrenched players cannot survive outside it … Against this backdrop, Lidia May is proving that fashion can be creative, glamorous, and personal without being exploitative or exclusionary,” says co-founder of Lidia May, Rasheed Khan.
Pema Shopper Rose & Pema Top Handle Rose
The Pema collection is ultra-luxurious, refined, and a favorite among customers. This collection and others aim for natural and biodegradable materials to achieve their goals. “We prefer to use silk and cotton and unbleached linens in our fabrics and embroidery threads,” explains Khan. The company utilizes full and top grain leather that is luxurious, durable and incidentally a by-product of the meat industry, says Khan. There is no sacrifice between beauty and sustainability here.
The Barre Poppy
“Fashion is a beacon. It’s highly visible, it’s aspirational, it can influence society’s values and behavior,” says Khan. If the fashion industry can make sustainable changes, then items such as The Barre Poppy can hopefully inspire others to follow. Agile and sophisticated, The Barre Poppy can be worn around the waist or carried as a mini top handle.
The Barre Poppy by Lidia May. Photo by Emmy Pickett; Courtesy of Lidia May.
Photo courtesy of Mavis by Herrera.
Mavis by Herrera mavisbyherrera.com
“I started Mavis by Herrera because I needed to be a part of the plastic pollution solution,” says founder, Mavis C. Herrera. “My passion is to encourage change through sustainability and regenerative business practices.” In the process of creating sustainable, ethically elegant handbags, the company also aims to empower indigenous people by first, offering jobs and eventually, by providing business skills, according to Herrera.
Less Pollution Convertible Bag
Mavis by Herrera handbags are waterproof, durable, lightweight, and fashionable. “We aim to revolutionize the fashion industry by proving that it can be done without harming people or the environment,” note the founders. “We take plastics and turn them into recycled, elegant, and sustainable handbags.” Working hand in hand with a local recycling company, each bag is hand woven in Mexico.
Originally launched in 2010 as a designer and product lab, Ecuadorian design brand Sensi Studio is known for crossing into bolder territories when it comes to fashion. The brand’s use of color and intricate, artisanal products from its summer and fall collections are making statements within the industry, all by the innovative thinking of owner and designer Stephany Sensi.
Sensi, who studied Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, takes much inspiration from her surroundings. Many designed pieces showcase a deep appreciation for Ecuadorian artistry and the natural landscapes of Massai Mara in Africa, blending the tribal aesthetic with the brand’s South American vibe. The studio’s upcoming collection highlights both warm and cool tones for the summer and fall, offering a more natural, down-to-earth approach. “We always take inspiration from nature and the colors that surround us here in the Andes region where we produce,” says Sensi. These sparks of creativity from the Andes are demonstrated through the mixture of strong color palettes and softer, feminine tones.
The studio also consistently works with local artisans to learn more about the surrounding natural landscape and new techniques to develop more unique designs in all of its handmade products. “My goal is to stay true to our identity and DNA while being current, fresh, and innovative,” Sensi affirms. These efforts have not only helped women in Andean communities claim job independence, but have have instilled a sense of social responsibility that has spread to 15 countries. Sensi Studio offers artisanal concepts through a current approach to entice fashion-savy clientele.