Sustainability Without Sacrifice

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  svala.co

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.

Didi Clutch

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.

Featured image courtesy Camille Vidal.

 

A movement started across the pond is reshaping the relationship people have with alcohol, and starting new conversations about the topic.

When Laura Willoughby sought to change her relationship with alcohol, she found that there weren’t many options to turn to in the United Kingdom that suited her well. So she created her own. What started out as a Facebook group grew into what is now a movement that swept across the UK and eventually parts of the globe. Club Soda, the mindful drinking community Willoughby co-founded, was just the start of a conversation about how people can drink mindfully.

Camille Vidal, founder of La Maison Wellness, describes what a mindful drinker is best. For her, there are many different types of mindful drinkers, but there is not just one label. “Often, because the movement is expanding and there are more and more people becoming vocal about their sobriety, about cutting alcohol out of their life, very often people assume that if you are a mindful drinker, it means that you’re sober,” Vidal says. “But actually, mindful drinking, and being a mindful drinker, is being mindful, being aware, being conscious of how much, how often and what you drink.

For Willoughby, she identifies as being alcohol-free, and has been for eight and a half years. Club Soda was born from Willoughby’s realization that seeking a change in a relationship with alcohol was met with the disease model of addiction, which may help some people, but not all. “Alcohol is an identity, not a medical condition,” Willoughby says. “I’m alcohol-free because that suits me best and alcohol doesn’t have anything left for me; I definitely took everything that was possible from alcohol.”

Eventually the mindful drinking conversation began to shift to the beverage industry. According to Vidal, today there are about 90 different alcohol-free spirits available around the world, but one company was the catalyst for this category. “Five years ago there was one brand that launched the world’s first alcohol-free spirit — that’s called Seedlip.

Seedlip is a botanical spirit,” Vidal says. “And they really paved the way for rethinking how we drink.” Seedlip’s roots were planted in London in 2015 by the brand’s founder, Ben Branson. Starting with one spirit, the company grew to include three choices, each with an individual flavor profile. One interesting spirit Vidal notes is its Garden 108 spirit that is made with traditional herbs and its signature, peas, giving it a refreshing, gin-like flavor.

Vidal uses Seedlip and other brands — another one she recommends is a company called Lyres that is based in Australia — to create her mindful cocktails that she features on her company’s website. When the pandemic lockdown began in London, where she currently resides, she started “happy hours” on her social media where she showed people how to make her cocktails. Vidal also collaborates with companies and people, such as Willoughby, to spread the awareness of drinking mindfully.

Another category of alcohol-free spirits that has taken to the market are alternatives that are inspired to bring a new way of drinking and a new overall experience, explains Vidal. Three Spirit, another brand Vidal enjoys, specializes in spirits — they call elixirs — that are powered by plants. The elixirs not only taste good, but make the drinker feel good. “They’ve all been built to recreate the experience you have when you drink alcohol and the very reason why people drink alcohol,” explains Vidal. “For example, they have one that is called the Night Cap that helps you to relax, to ease stress, to calm you down, to help you with sleep — because it contains valerian, which helps with sleeping.”

Above: Camille Vidal; Below: Laura Willoughby

Willoughby herself enjoys drinking Three Spirit as one of her non-alcoholic options along with kombucha, which is something that Vidal says is a great addition to any non-alcoholic or low ABV cocktail. According to Vidal and Willoughby, choosing to become a mindful drinker doesn’t really have any setbacks, as it opens the door to a new lifestyle and way to enjoy nights out or time spent with good company. “People believe they have to give up their social life if they change their drinking, but what happens is your social life changes,” Willoughby says. “And guess what? Your social life changes anyway as you go through life.” On Club Soda’s website, the organization offers courses that help guide people down a mindful drinking journey that works for their lifestyle. “If somebody’s desire is to try and drink moderately,” says Willoughby. “Then that’s absolutely fine by us as well.” She goes on to say that there is a binary view of alcohol, which in actuality, there isn’t.”

Whether someone is choosing to phase alcohol out of their lives or is looking to start a new relationship with it, there are plenty of options that are just as delicious as their alcoholic counterparts. “I always say ‘tasty doesn’t have to be boozy,’” says Vidal. “For me, there’s something magical about having a low-alcoholic or non-alcoholic cocktail, and it’s not about the alcohol content, it’s about the moment, the celebration and appreciating the experience we’re having.”

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