What to Look For in a Vegan Handbag

by GR0 Collaborator / Jan 20, 2020

Vegan leather is synthetic leather, or leather that is made from manmade or plant-based materials instead of containing any type of animal product. In modern times, veganism is more present than ever before. Regardless of the reason behind each individual's choice to purchase vegan products, it’s good to know that animal-free alternatives are not synonymous with a sacrifice to quality, luxury, or style. 

SENREVE is proud to offer sustainable alternatives to traditional leather-made products, and we’ve created a unique product that maintains the traditional craftsmanship of our handbags, without the use of any animal products or by-products. 

If you are interested in a vegan handbag, read on to learn more about where to find them and what you should look for.

What is Vegan Leather? 

Vegan leather by definition is any material that resembles animal leather but is made without the use of any animal products. Real leather, on the other hand, is produced from the tanned hides of an animal. There are many types of synthetic materials used in faux leather to help resemble that of normal leather, and the manufacturing processes can vary depending on that material. 

The most common materials used to produce vegan leather is PVC leather and PU leather. However, it can also be manufactured from organic materials such as cork, apple peels, and even pineapple leaves.

Not all genuine leather alternatives are created equally, which is why SENREVE has made a commitment to not only maintain high quality in our vegan leather, but to make sure it’s sustainably sourced and produced.

What to Look For in a Vegan Handbag

If you’ve never shopped for a vegan handbag before, you might be a little unsure of where to start the process and what to look for. Thankfully, we are here to help. So here’s everything you need to look for in a vegan handbag:

1. Versatility

Oftentimes, women feel like they need to buy many different handbags for different functions and occasions. For example, you have one bag for work, one for going out, and one for casually running errands on the weekend or going out to brunch. But what if you could just use one bag for everything? 

While this might seem impossible at first, companies like SENREVE have been able to design extremely versatile vegan leather handbags that can easily transition throughout your entire day no matter what you have on the calendar. This way, there’s no need to run home after work to switch bags and transfer all your items over -- you can just head out to dinner with the perfect handbag. SENREVE’s Vegan Maestra bag, the revised version of our classic Maestra, is versatile in its 8 interior compartments and its ability to convert to a satchel, tote, crossbody, or backpack depending on what you need. It’s the epitome of the SENREVE woman who does it all.

2. Lightweight

There’s nothing worse than a handbag that literally seems to weigh you down. That’s why it’s important to look for a vegan handbag that is lightweight and is easy to bring along with you no matter where you go. Many people assume that leather has to be really heavy, but by choosing materials and components that are light and efficient, you are able to get a 100% vegan handbag that’s light as a feather. That way, you can fill them with all your daily essentials without worrying about your arm getting sore from all the weight. 

3. Travel-Friendly

If you have a bit of wanderlust, then you will definitely want a vegan leather handbag that is travel-friendly. Not only do the dimensions need to be travel-friendly in order to function as the perfect carry-on or personal item on every flight, but the design also needs to be travel-friendly as well. We personally love traveling with bags that have straps because it offers an extra degree of security. You should also look for a bag that doesn’t have many obvious external zippers or openings to keep pickpocketers at bay. At the same time, the handbag shouldn’t be too complicated to get into so that you can easily access your wallet, lipstick, or sunglasses while on-the-go

4. Quality Materials

Materials in a vegan leather handbag might be the most important thing to look for when purchasing the perfect bag. This is because not all materials are created equal and even though you might not be able to tell at first, you will quickly find out if your handbag was made from cheap and poor quality materials. After all, your bag is an investment and you want it to last. That’s why you need a vegan leather handbag from a reputable brand that uses high-quality  materials that are soft yet durable at the same time. 

5. Craftsmanship

Materials mean nothing if they are not assembled properly. That’s why craftsmanship is also an important component in a vegan leather handbag. You definitely don’t want a handbag that was mass-produced by machines in a factory. Instead, look for handbags that were created with excellent hand-craftsmanship. When a handbag is hand-crafted, you know that you are getting the best end-product as a result because each component will be perfectly tailored and assembled. 

6. Functionality

It’s important to have a bag that is well-made, but if it doesn’t fit your needs, it is not functional for you. You want a bag that makes it easy for you to organize and then quickly access all your essentials. After all, there’s nothing worse than endlessly digging around in your “Mary Poppins bag” for your keys when you’re just trying to get home after work. You also want a bag that is easy for you to access but harder for others to access. Some handbags seem to have an endless amount of secret zippers and compartments that you forget about them and “lose” things. However, we have found that the best vegan leather handbags have just the right amount of compartments--even the SENREVE Mini Maestra still has 7 interior compartments. 

7. Design

While you definitely want a handbag that was perfectly made with quality materials and top-of-the-line craftsmanship, you also want it to look good. Many people assume that you can’t have all of these elements combined within a single bag -- but it’s definitely possible with the right amount of thought and consideration. We personally love simple, sophisticated, yet feminine handbags that are understated but also eye-catching at the same time. The best handbag companies will have a variety of different vegan leather handbag designs available to fit your unique taste, style, and needs

8. Sustainability

Finally, sustainability is an essential component of a great vegan leather handbag. But the bag itself isn’t the only thing that should be sustainably produced. It’s also important to consider the packaging of the product and use boxes and poly bags that are biodegradable or compostable. Leather-making can be a water-intensive process, so purchasing from a company that uses water efficiently and avoids water pollution is vital to ensure that you buy a truly sustainable product. Working conditions are also a super important factor. You want a bag that is ethically produced and is not made by people experiencing poor working conditions. 

Now that you know, check out our 100% Vegan Collection’s launch page here. You can learn more about our mission for sustainability and our new vegan handbags, and can browse for yourself to see that you don’t need to sacrifice style or quality to be kind to the Earth. 

Feel free to keep reading to learn just a little more about the different types of vegan leather.

Different Types of Vegan Leather

Before you buy your next vegan leather handbag, it’s important to understand the differences in how faux leather can be manufactured. Because the true definition of vegan leather is simply leather that does not contain any type of animal product, the products used in vegan leather can vary widely from plastic-based to vegetable-based materials. It’s important to understand how these differences impact the final product and how they impact the environment, too. 

  • Polyurethane leather (PU). PU is an artificial leather made of thermoplastic polymer, it is also known as bi-cast or double-cast leather. Depending on how it’s made, it can be sustainably produced.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride Leather (PVC). PVC is found in many plastic items around your home such as flooring, plastic furniture, piping, etc. Similar to PU, it can a sustainable option depending on the manufacturer’s practices. 
  • Apple Leather. As the name suggests, apple leather is made from leftover apple waste following the production of apple juice. Unfortunately, the longevity of apple leather is not fully known, and finding apple leather products is difficult. 
  • MuSkin, a 100% vegetable leather. Primarily made from the caps of mushrooms that grow in subtropical forests, MuSkin is completely free of toxic substances, making it ideal for any use cases where the leather would be in close contact with your skin. Like apple leather, it is not widely produced, and its longevity is still unknown. 
  • Pineapple Leather, called Piñatex, is derived from pineapple leaf fiber. Like apple leather, it is also made from harvesting and repurposing waste; however, it requires a thin layer of polyurethane to be applied as a protective coating. 

The Bottom Line

Vegan leather is not available everywhere today, but it is growing in popularity. Not all vegan leather is made equally, so it’s important to understand your options before buying. Innovation in this space is sure to continue as sustainability and animal-free products continue to grow in demand.