Ethical Product Review: Oka-B Taylor Flats

I am not exactly a shoe fiend. Sure, I like shoes, I admire different styles, I enjoy wearing everything from cute heels to kick-ass boots, but I’m not the type of person who gets buried under an avalanche of footwear when opening her closet. I prefer to keep things minimal and to identify gaps in my footwear wardrobe before buying another pair. My desire to purchase only ethically made, cruelty-free, vegan footwear* certainly helps; there are fewer options that fit those criteria, especially affordable ones.

So when I realized I was sorely lacking in work-appropriate shoes for summer, the search for a pair of flats commenced. I have very few light-colored shoes (beige or tan), so I focused my search on that color.

Oka-B Taylor flats in blush. Image copyright Oka-B.

Oka-B Taylor flats in blush. Image copyright Oka-B.

Eventually I settled on the Taylor ballet flats by Oka-B, and here’s why. Oka-B is a woman-owned company that produces affordable shoes in the United States and has a real focus on sustainability. What I really love is that they’re recyclable: You can send your worn-out Oka-B shoes back to their factory, where the company will recycle them and use the material in new products. This sort of closed-loop production really gets me excited. What makes this possible is that the shoes are made of a patented plastic blend. Yes, I know — plastic shoes. I realize that for many folks, this might put you off if you try to avoid plastic altogether or if you’re worried about sweat. I am #blessed with feet that are never particularly sweaty, so I wasn’t too worried about any stink. And the plastic does have an up side: You can wash these babies in the sink or in the dish washer with just water and soap.

Although there are some reviews of the Taylors floating around the internet, none are particularly comprehensive. So I ordered the Taylor flats in blush and tried them for myself. Here’s my experience.

How do Oka-B Taylor flats fit?

The best I can say is, “They fit OK.” Unfortunately, Oka-B does not offer half sizes. This is a real bummer for those of us whose feet fall smack-dab between two whole sizes! I typically wear a 7.5, so first I ordered a 7. I’d read that the shoes can sometimes stretch, and I have narrow feet, so that seemed like a safe bet.

It was not a safe bet. I should not have taken that bet. Oh man. The first time I wore these all day long, I was in pain by 5:00. They squeezed, they pinched, and I was in agony. Instead of stretching, they seemed to contract, while my feet swelled in response. The result was… not good. That night, I gave the pair a thorough cleaning and immediately exchanged them for an 8.

Oka-B Taylor flatsAhh, [relative] bliss. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the 8s are just a smidge too big for my feet, just a little bit too loose. They’re serviceable, though, so I kept this pair. But when I’m walking downhill they sometimes slip off my heels, and overall they just don’t feel perfect.

If Oka-B would only offer half sizes, this would not be an issue. I hope they consider doing so in the future!

How comfortable are Oka-B Taylor flats?

My experience with the Taylors has been mixed, even aside from the sizing issue. Although the site’s ad copy touts “soothing massage beads” and “premium arch support,” anyone with high arches (me!) will unfortunately not notice these perks. My arches sit well above the massage beads, although they do look comfortable. To be clear, though, these shoes are definitely more comfortable than cheaper ballet flats I’ve owned in the past, the ones with totally flat footbeds and no cushioning to speak of.

Unfortunately, I also experience toe pain with these shoes. Although these flats are somewhat flexible, the tops of the shoes dig into the bone of my right big toe. Though the pain isn’t acute, after a full day of wear, I’m definitely ready to take my shoes off. This seems to be a very specific problem though; if you read the reviews for the Taylor, many people find them absolutely comfortable.

One aspect I do like is the sole: These shoes have nice grippy soles; no slipping here!

Are Oka-B Taylor flats a good value?

With a list price of $40 (less on Amazon), I’d say the Taylors are a great value for made-in-the-USA vegan shoes! They come in a ton of colors, so if you find a size that fits, you could get a few pairs.

Oka-B Taylor flats

Would I buy them again?

Honestly, no. The size is not perfect and my stupid toe anatomy means these are comfortable only up to a point. (A day in the office is fine; two days in a row, not so much. And I would not walk long distances in them.) I’m disappointed; I’d hoped they’d fit well so I could buy a second, more colorful pair at some point.

I might experiment with another Oka-B style. I think I might be able to get away with a 7 in the open-toed wedges, for example.

Would I recommend the Taylor flats?

I recommend at least giving them a try. Thousands of positive reviews should count for something, and perhaps you can find a size that fits.

Note that Oka-B has a sister company, Okabashi, that makes casual sandals; I have a two-year-old pair that’s still going strong. So the quality seems good.

~~~

All in all, I’m glad I tried the Taylor flats, even if they weren’t a perfect fit for me. Let me know if you’ve tried them or other Oka-B styles!

*I’m not perfect. Desperate for shoes to match a specific dress for a wedding, I’ve purchased heels that were likely not made ethically. Vegan, yes, but not necessarily cruelty-free if you consider unfair working conditions a form of cruelty (and I do).

~~~

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Oka-B Taylor flats: an ethical shoe review on govegga.com~~~

Disclaimer: I was not provided with free shoes from Oka-B nor compensated in any way for a review. I simply bought the shoes and wanted to share my thoughts in an Oka-B shoe review. This post does contain affiliate links, which come at no additional cost to you.

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Vegan on Etsy: Ethical Women’s Clothing!

vegan on etsy cruelty free etsyToday, I’m sharing some great options for purchasing handmade (women’s) clothing on Etsy! In my last Vegan on Etsy installment, I offered up a bevy of bags and a… sackful of satchels? Sure. I’ve also got a post on lip balms, which are plentiful on Etsy.

The pursuit of ethically made clothing is near and dear to my heart. (See: this post about ethical fashion and a few mainstream purveyors of ethical vegan clothes.) I’m on a constant quest to whittle my wardrobe and populate it with clothing that’s made to last and that fills multiple purposes. Yes, this often means spending more than you would if you went bargain-hunting at the mall, but it also means you’re (typically) investing in businesses who value treating their workers right. That’s worth it to me, especially since I put a premium on well-made clothing that will last and not need replacing in just a few years.

And the good news is that Etsy is chock full of independent makers who are doing great things with fabric. Here are a few standouts, with the important caveat that — just like I mentioned in my previous post on ethical fashion — there is a long way to go in terms of accommodating all body shapes and sizes. Sigh.

Blue Ridge Stitches

With its affordable cotton basics handmade in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Stitches is a gem. I love this open jersey-knit cardigan; those giant pockets are extremely appealing.

Image copyright Blue Ridge Stitches

Image copyright Blue Ridge Stitches

Prices are fair for handmade clothing, and there’s even a sale section with quite a few ready-to-ship options.

Ellaina Boutique

Image copyright Ellaina Boutique

Image copyright Ellaina Boutique

SaveThe cotton dresses, shirts, leggings, and other apparel at Ellaina Boutique are all simple, sweet, and versatile. Shop owner and seamstress Sue chooses fabrics in rich tones and vibrant patterns and creates timeless pieces that should fit in just about anyone’s wardrobe. I took advantage of a sale last summer to purchase a sweetheart crossover dress in a gorgeous blue floral pattern (not currently available). It’s incredibly comfortable (yay, cotton jersey!) but looks dressy because of the pattern.

This day dress (above/left) is another cute style that would look great on quite a few body types. Note that while you can choose from straight sizes, you can also provide your own measurements. Sizes only go up to XL in the drop-down menu, but it does seem like she’s able to customize these garments.

Loft 415

Don’t let Loft 415’s “minimalist bohemian” descriptor deter you: This California-based shop offers plenty of basics that should appeal to folks with a variety of styles. For example, this simple black pencil skirt is a wardrobe staple, whereas fans of a more boho aesthetic might like this dolman-sleeved shirt. There’s even a maternity section!

I particularly appreciate Loft 415’s ethics. They source the raw fabrics from a company in LA, use eco-friendly inks on their screen-printed tees, and are committed to paying workers a fair wage.

PlatForma

For slightly pricier — but more design-forward — options, check out PlatForma. These carefully designed and crafted clothing items run the gamut from crisp cotton frocks to summery linen blouses.

Image copyright PlatForma

Image copyright PlatForma

This linen shirt with a tie-neck collar intrigues me! It’s such a wholly unique design, and I love the look of that linen.

Everything at PlatForma is made to order and ships from Bulgaria — a boon for you Europe-based readers!

Yana Dee

Whereas most of the other shops on this list rely solely on cotton for their ethical vegan clothing, Yana Dee also uses hemp, cotton, and soy fabrics. They also offer a wider range of styles than many competitors, with pants, scarves, jackets, and even casual wedding dresses alongside the usual suspects (skirts and dresses, mostly).

Note that Yana Dee has a few leather headbands on sale, but at least they’re using salvaged leather and not the brand-new stuff. There are also a few wool and silk items, unfortunately. But on the bright side, Yana Dee includes sizes up to 3XL as part of the standard offerings, and you can also request a custom size.

Other options

Never fear if none of these styles appeal — Etsy is a treasure trove for vintage clothing! Of course, you’ll pay more than you would if you hit up some Goodwills yourself, but if you’re not into the thrill of the thrift store hunt, you might appreciate someone else doing the hard work for you. Here are a few of my favorites, but there are hundreds of other shops out there. Don’t forget to check out the sale sections, too!

If you happen to be handy with a sewing machine, Etsy has quite a few makers who sell original patterns. I really love Hey June Handmade‘s clean, modern styles, though I have yet to try one myself, while OhMeOhMySewing has some pretty vintage-inspired dresses and shirts. You can also search for knit or crochet patterns if that’s more up your crafty alley.

Have any other favorites? Let me know what I missed!

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Finding vegan clothing on Etsy // govegga.com

Cruelty-free and vegan clothing on Etsy // govegga.com

Editor’s note: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. And my primary purpose here is to connect vegans with quality, handmade goods that help support small businesses and indie designers. :)

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Ethical Clothing Companies with Cruelty-Free Vegan Options, and Why You Should Care About Your Clothes

Original photo by Roberto Trombetta on Flickr // vegan ethical fashion

Original photo by
Roberto Trombetta on Flickr

One of the most infuriating “questions” lobbied at vegans sounds something like this: “Why do you care about animals when there are HUMAN BEINGS suffering all over the world?!” This is infuriating for many reasons, of course: It assumes that one cannot care about and work to help both human and non-human animals; it assumes a near-speciesist distinction between humans and animals; it is often “asked” by speakers who they themselves are not doing much for humans or other animals. Plus, it’s never really a question; it’s a goading comment designed to rile up the vegan target.

But despite all this, there’s actually a kernel of relevance to the question. If your veganism is founded on ethics, on a desire to reduce suffering and not take part in suffering as far as is possible and practicable, then caring about your fellow humans and striving to reduce their suffering should also be important to you. It’s not that you have to do it all, but that you should be conscious of suffering and work against it and the systems that encourage it when possible.

Which all leads me to my point: that we as vegans should probably be a little more ethically conscious in stores other than the grocery store. Specifically, when we’re buying clothing.

It’s no secret that the clothing industry—especially the fast-fashion industry—is notoriously horrendous in terms of human rights and worker safety. The horrific 2012 garment factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 117 people, is a particularly poignant example of what can happen when safety isn’t a priority, but the day-to-day injustices and inhumane working conditions in the garment industry are no less important.

On top of this high human cost, fast fashion hurts the environment. Getting rid of textile waste is a real problem, and even so-called “recycling programs” (where fast-fashion retailers like H&M will take back their unwanted garments, ostensibly to turn them into recycled fibers) might actually encourage consumerism. Plus, the products use to dye that brightly colored T-shirt or make that non-biodegradable polyester sweater are terrifically harmful to the environment, so much so that the textile industry ranks as one of the worst industries in terms of pollutants.

All these facts, when taken together, form a pretty strong case for caring a little more deeply about—and putting a little more thought into—one’s clothing purchases. Buying fewer pieces of clothing and keeping them for longer is a great place to start.

The good news is that there’s a new crop of ethical designers and retailers, mostly online, dedicated to producing ethically made clothing that’s friendly to the environment, to people, and frequently to animals. Below I’ll share with you my favorite brands doing great work in this space, but first, a quick list of points to look for when you’re trying to determine whether a given retailer is “ethical.”

How to tell whether a clothing or apparel manufacturer/retailer is ethical

These are just a few things you can ask and look for as you find brands that you think might produce their wares ethically. In a nutshell, transparency counts! And don’t be afraid to email companies and ask questions—it’s good to keep them accountable and let them know that people want more ethical clothing options.

  • Do they mention sustainability or ethics on their website? (Scroll down to the bottom of their homepage and check for a link to a dedicated page or read through the FAQ to start.) If there’s no mention at all, there’s a good chance that this retailer produces their garments in sweatshops and/or has not even signed on to any labor/working condition agreements. Retailers that are actually committed to ethics, fair trade, and/or sustainability almost always explain why they hold these values and how they put these values into practice. On the other hand, beware of statements so vague as to be essentially meaningless. Greenwashing is real, and if a brand can’t give concrete examples of its commitment to ethics and/or sustainability, it’s probably just paying lip service to those ideals.
  • Do they list sources for any materials? For example, some sustainable producers use recycled polyester, and they’ll always call that out. Other ethical brands use “waste” products or use only environmentally-friendly dyes. if a brand doesn’t give any information, the information they do have is likely not going to meet your ethical standards.
  • Do they include the exact country in which the product was made? Many retailers will just list “imported” next to a product, which can indicate a lack of transparency. On the other hand, most ethical companies will tell you exactly where each product was made. And although you might see something like China and immediately assume the worst, note that some factories do follow higher welfare standards and pay a living wage. A truly transparent and ethical company will explain how they choose their factories and will often perform in-person checks.
Original photo by Joel Kramer on Flickr // ethical and vegan clothing

Original photo by Joel Kramer on Flickr

My favorite ethical clothing brands with vegan options

Alternative Apparel

Why I love it: I practically lived in Alternative Apparel’s super-soft athleisure-focused pieces last summer: I’d get home from work and immediately change into a sports bra, tank top, and shorts or yoga pants and head outside, either to work in the garden or sit with a beer and a book in the backyard, soaking up the sun. They have an impressive range of mostly casual pieces for men and women, mixed in with a few slightly dressier pieces that could fit into a business-casual wardrobe.

Why it’s ethical: Alternative Apparel’s statement of social responsibility ticks all the boxes: Eco-friendly fabrics? Check. Recycled materials? Low-impact dyes? Fair labor conditions? Check, check, and check again. Their base in LA is even certified green, meaning they encourage and promote small-scale environmentally friendly practices, like ride-sharing and using green cleaning products. And they use almost exclusively non-animal fabrics; you’ll find the occasional woolly garment, but it’ll be labeled clearly.

What it’ll cost you: At full price, AA’s clothing tends to hit the middle of the spectrum, with a few items skewing pricier. $28 organic cotton T-shirts are pretty comparable to similar brands, but the $112 flannel shirt-dress seems a bit much. Note that many of the more expensive items are the private-label brands AA carries. Look for their own house brand for more affordable options.

Want a discount? AA is great for discounts! I’ve never paid full price for anything. First check out the sale section for discounts that hover around 50%, then head over to the last-chance section for truly bargain-bin prices. Sizes and colors tend to be limited, so hop on a sale whenever it’s offered. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to be the first to know about their (frequent) sales, and note that shipping and returns are always free in the 48 contiguous states. New customers can use my referral link for 20% off a purchase of $30 or more.

American Giant

Why I love it: For whatever reason, many ethical clothing companies seem to shy away from color. (I think it’s because many of these companies want to offer eminently neutral—and therefore versatile—basics.) Not American Giant. This brand embraces color, from vibrant red to jewel-toned emerald to dusty purple. It also offers an impressive range of mostly casual basics: Think waffled henleys, simple T-shirts, and an oft-praised hoodie. I have a simple grey sweatshirt from AG that’s both warm and comfy, but I’d love to try their ponte pant/legging—it looks like the epitome of comfort and perfect for traveling.

Why it’s ethical: The name should be a dead giveaway: everything is made in the USA with American-grown and crafted cotton. Plus, the company offers free returns on any item at any point in time for any reason, a quality guarantee that demonstrates how strongly they stand behind their products. And because all products are cotton (along with some new nylon offerings), you don’t need to worry about wool or silk sneaking in!

What it’ll cost you: Although not the cheapest brand on this list, American Giant offers a relatively low price for fully made-in-the-USA goods. Women’s T-shirts will run you anywhere from $25 to $40, while their much-lauded hoodie is about $90. Sales are rare but not unknown, so keep an eye out.

Want a discount? Like I said, sales are infrequent, but new customers can score 15% off with my referral link.

Photo credit: Brass Clothing

Photo credit: Brass Clothing

Brass Clothing

Why I love it: This woman-owned, Boston-based company focuses on basic, foundational pieces. Although it’s designed with a capsule wardrobe in mind, these basic pieces will fit into anyone’s closet. I particularly appreciate the muted tones and fairly timeless shapes. The company will also reimburse you up to $15 if you need to get a piece tailored to fit, which is a nice gesture. Plus, Brass uses “real models” to demonstrate how their clothing fits on a variety of body shapes. Sizes run from XXS-XXL at present.

Why it’s ethical: The women who run Brass ensure that their fabrics are high-quality and their garments are well-constructed so that they’ll last—these are not items you’ll throw out in a year because they’ve developed holes. They design their clothing here in the USA and manufacture it in Hangzhou, China, at two factories that they visit fairly regularly. Most fabrics are vegan, though they do use silk occasionally.

What it’ll cost you: These are not inexpensive clothing items; expect to pay $20-$30 for a T-shirt and ~$90-$125 for a dress. That’s because they’re truly built to last. Check out the last-chance room for occasional deals: I bought the grey sweater dress on sale last year and it’s absolutely a winter staple for me.

Want a discount? New customers get $10 off by signing up for the Brass mailing list—just scroll down on the home page and enter your email address at the prompt.

PACT Apparel

Why I love it: Similar to American Giant, PACT focuses on cotton basics. Unlike AG, whose wares are eminently casual, PACT offers a broader range of goods, from undies to cute dresses. It’s a particularly great choice if you want simple basics (socks, undies, tights) that are fairly made and don’t cost a fortune. I particularly love their tights, which are thicker than regular tights without venturing into legging territory—perfect for winter! I’ve also been eyeing this cute pocket dress for a while, and at $29.99, it’s really a steal.

Ed. note: I purchased the pocket dress when it went on sale recently, and I LOVE IT. It’s soft, super comfy, and a great length (I’m 5’5″ and an XS hits just above the knees). Plus, the pockets fit even the largest smartphones!

I also appreciate the breadth of PACT’s line; they provide clothes for women, men, and babies (a rarity), and they offer lots of fun colors (just check out all the legging patterns!).

Why it’s ethical: The PACT motto is “Change you can wear,” and a good-for-people, good-for-the-planet ethos drives their work. Everything is sweatshop-free, ethically produced, and features certified organic cotton (which uses less water to manufacture than conventional cotton).

What it’ll cost you: One of the most affordable brands on this list, PACT won’t break the bank. Yes, you’ll pay more for a pair of socks or underwear here than you would buying a six-pack at Target, but that’s the trade-off of purchasing fairly made goods. And honestly, PACT’s prices are pretty much as low as you’ll find for ethical basics. T-shirts run an extremely affordable $15.99, while a four-pack of basic crew socks is $22.99.

Want a discount? Use my referral link and get 20% off your first order! Then sign up for PACT’s mailing list for frequent discounts (they recently offered 30% off winter favorites). And watch out for their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales—you’ll get some amazing deals! I scored an $8 T-shirt last year.

prAna

Why I love it: Yes, this is a bigger company than most others on my list, but I had to include it for its commitment to fair-trade and sustainability. You can read their full sustainability statement here, but here’s the short version: PrAna is committed to using sustainable materials (think hemp and recycled polyester), reducing waste (no plastic-wrapped clothing when you place an online order!), offering fair-trade certified clothing (since 2010!), ensuring that they know where their materials come from (thanks to traceability projects), and avoiding harmful pollutants (by partnering with bluesign to meet high environmental standards). I own a few prAna pieces (yoga pants, everyday pants, swimsuits, and a winter jacket) and they’re all high-quality, investment pieces that I think will last me years.

On top of all that, prAna has an amazing commitment to customer service—they want you to love your clothing and wear it till it wears out. I purchased a pair of pants and wasn’t 100% happy with them (they were just a little big) and found I wasn’t wearing them that often. Six months after my purchase, they were willing to exchange them for a smaller size at no cost to me!

Why it’s ethical: Well, see above! PrAna walks the walk when it comes to ethics. Note that they do use some animal products in cool-weather clothing, mostly down (ugh, though it’s allegedly responsibly sourced), wool (usually recycled), and the occasional suede elbow patch (why?!?). Luckily, everything is clearly labeled online so you won’t get any unwelcome surprises when your order arrives.

What it’ll cost you: PrAna is not cheap, but they do have a robust sale section with seasonal discounts up to 50% off. That’s my preferred way to shop!

Want a discount? Check out the aforementioned sale section and sign up for emails—you’ll be the first to know about shipping offers or new discounts!

Photo credit: SmartGlamour

Photo credit: SmartGlamour

SmartGlamour

Why I love it: When it comes to body-positive style, SmartGlamour stands alone. This brand is amazing in so many ways. It’s a woman-run, New York-based company; in fact, owner, designer, and general powerhouse Mallorie Dunn makes all clothing items to order. So while the company offers straight sizes in a truly amazing range (XXS-6XL+), you can customize any aspect of your garment (including the fabric!) to fit your body and sense of style. And Dunn is 100% committed to body positivity; the SmartGlamour Instagram account features real women of all shapes and sizes. (Check out the photo above for proof.) This inclusivity doesn’t end at size and shape; Dunn features women of color, women of all ages, and women all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum, including trans women. Reading her Instagram captions fills me with joy because of how overwhelmingly positive and inclusive they are—this is what America looks like, and I’m so happy to find a brand that’s committed to outfitting every single woman!

Why it’s ethical: Because everything is handmade in NYC, no shady labor conditions are contributing to your cute new dress! Aside from the occasional well-labeled wool, all fabrics are vegan—in fact, I first found SmartGlamour while perusing the #veganfashion hashtag on Instagram!

What it’ll cost you: For handmade (and often customized) clothing, SmartGlamour is surprisingly inexpensive (probably because Dunn keeps overhead low too). A classic (and classy) fitted sheath-style dress will run you $65, while a drape-y cardigan costs $40.

Want a discount? Check the sample sale section and follow SmartGlamour on Instagram to see additional sample materials as soon as they’re available.

Sotela

Why I love it: The driving idea behind Sotela is disarmingly simple: women should have a few pieces of clothing that will always fit, regardless of weight fluctuations or shape changes. Founder Hanna Baror-Padilla  wanted to address this issue after severe digestive issues left her so bloated and uncomfortable that most of her existing clothing didn’t fit. She decided to design a line of simple, basic dresses with a decent amount of give to allow for changes in size and shape. In practice, that means that Sotela’s dresses don’t match up with typical sizing. Instead, you’ll find just three sizes, each of which corresponds with a set of straight sizes. The largest size (3) fits traditional sizes 14-18.

Why it’s ethical: Baror-Padilla is committed to using environmentally friendly fabrics, such as modal, which can be made from the pulp of renewable beech trees. All items are produced in Costa Mesa, California. If you’re looking for ethical clothing that’s also made in the USA, this is a great start.

What it’ll cost you: Dresses start at $100, although a sample sale running right now offers a $65 swing dress.

Want a discount? Enter your email address in the popup window for free shipping.

Photo by Anthony TwoMoons for Vaute Couture; Belden coat

Photo by Anthony TwoMoons for Vaute Couture

Vaute Couture

Why I love it: It’s the OG high-fashion, all-vegan, cruelty-free brand! Founder Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart started the company in 2008 as a way to unite her fierce belief in animal welfare with a product that would appeal to a fashion-forward crowd. And it most certainly does. Although Vaute Couture is perhaps best known for its uber-warm winter coats, Hilgart has expanded her line to include dresses, sweaters, shirts, and even swimsuits—all vegan and all super stylish. Back in 2011, I split the cost of the original Belden coat (similar to this one, but with a slightly different fabric) with my mom as an early Christmas present when it went on sale—and I’ve been wearing it ever since. It’s a beautiful, well-fitting coat that got me through a few killer Wisconsin winters!

Why it’s ethical: Let me count the ways! For one, Vaute Couture is a 100% vegan brand, so you can always trust that the materials are cruelty-free. Vaute Couture uses sustainable materials (recycled, organic, or even waste-free) and makes its coats ethically in New York City by teams paid a living wage.

What it’ll cost you: This is easily the most expensive brand on this list: at full price, expect to spend about $400 to $600 for a snow- and weather-proof coat that will keep you toasty. Sweaters and skirts will run you upwards of $150, in line with similar high-fashion brands.

Want a discount? The good news: Vaute Couture frequently offers end-of-season (and even pre-season) sales, with discounts of up to 50% off. (That’s how I could afford my jacket; in those days, Vaute Couture funded its winter runs by pre-selling coats.) Yes, you will still pay a pretty penny, but you’re purchasing an investment piece that will last. Six years later and my coat is going strong!

A few more brands for your consideration

  • Everlane: The darling of ethical fashion bloggers everywhere, Everlane was one of the first web brands to focus on transparency. They share the cost breakdown of each item so you can see exactly what their profit margin is, and they forge relationships with their factories to ensure working conditions are fair and safe.
    So why didn’t I include them in my list of favorites? Well, they do use a LOT of animal products, from silk to cashmere to wool to leather. They also don’t have anything that’s certified fair-trade, as far as I can tell. And finally, I find many of their styles to be puzzling: a recent email hawked a pair of bizarre wide-legged cropped pants as “the most flattering pant you’ll ever try,” which is just absurd. Their boxy shapes seem unfriendly to many body types (nor are their models inclusive of all body shapes and sizes), and their persistently drab shades just feel bland (and that’s coming from someone who loves neutrals). That said, I have one plain black v-neck T-shirt I really like, and it was well-priced. Note that the clothes run big—I had to order an XXS!
  • Good Apparel: A newcomer to the world of ethical/sustainable women’s fashion, Good Apparel is the brand-new house line of Good Clothing Company. The latter is a Massachusetts-based production partner that works with designers who want an ethical, made-in-the-USA option for producing their designs. Good Apparel creates small-batch collections, releasing new ones every 2-3 months to buck the traditional fashion calendar. They focus on sustainable, locally sourced fibers, avoid waste by producing small batches, and pay their staff living wages.
    So why didn’t I include them in my list of favorites? The company is brand-spanking new, and there’s not much press on the quality of their clothing (though it should be top-notch). I also find their designs a bit puzzling and perhaps too fashion-forward for the average consumer ($138 split-leg pants?). I appreciate what they’re doing and imagine they’ll be a great fit for a very specific audience. I am not that audience, however.
  • Seamly: Founder Kristin Glenn wanted to create clothing that’s made to last, that doesn’t support unethical labor practice (it’s all made in the USA), and that supports the environment by using primarily “waste” products.
    So why didn’t I include them in my list of favorites? Here’s the catch: Seamly is currently not offering new products, but is relaunching in spring of this year with a new line of “modern staples.” However, this means that their existing inventory is on sale for 50% off! Pickings are somewhat slim, but take a look. I’ll update this list when Seamly officially relaunches.

Notes and thoughts on buying ethical clothing

  • Cost: I won’t deny that ethically made clothing costs more than fast fashion. But if you’re already paying more for your vegan almond milk than you’d pay for cow milk, you’re familiar with the trade-off: truly ethical products don’t come cheap. As you switch to a more ethical wardrobe, you might need to rethink your shopping strategy: Gone are the days when you can hit up the mall for two-for-$15 T-shirts; instead, you’ll typically spend more on a single shirt! Personally, I’ve enjoyed paring down my wardrobe to figure out what I really need and to find pieces I love, pieces that are versatile and that will last. I fully acknowledge that this practice might not be as attainable for anyone who is truly struggling with money and needs to prioritize other necessities. That’s OK. Just do the best you can.
  • Thrifting: Much of my wardrobe right now is secondhand. I don’t feel bad about purchasing so-called fast fashion when (1) it’s used and (2) it fits a specific gap in my closet. (For example, I have a few cotton sweaters from cheap brands that I bought at thrift stores. They’re lasting quite a while, and they were way more affordable than purchasing a $75+ organic cotton fair-trade sweater.) There’s an argument that buying items like this, even secondhand, feeds into the market for those items existing in the first place, but for many people, thrifting is an affordable way to fill your closet without directly supporting unethical companies.
  • Sizing: I tried to note which brands on this list offer a wide range of sizes, but the unfortunate reality is that many ethical brands don’t cater to my larger sisters. I am 100% on board with the health at any size movement and with fighting the gross fat-shaming culture that exists in the vegan movement, and I’ll update this list if I find great ethical brands that also want to clothe bigger women.
  • On chasing perfection: Once you learn about the horrors of the fast-fashion industry, it can be tempting to throw everything out and start anew. Slow down; that’s not sustainable! Don’t worry about perfection, about making sure that every single item in your closet is immediately sustainable and ethical and fair-trade and and and and everything else. Do what you can. The perfect is the enemy of the good.
  • Woman-centric? It’s entirely possible that my inherent bias as a ciswoman who wears mostly clothing designed for women means I’m just missing out on ethical male fashion, but I do think that there’s a whole lot more going on in this space for women than for men (especially when it comes to vegan fashion). And that’s a shame. So yes, my list is very female-focused, but I’m writing what I know. ;)

Further reading

  • From AlterNet, details on the sustainability and and environmental issues inherent in modern clothing production. Also linked above.
  • From Huffington Post, an extremely comprehensive long read on the history of the ethical fashion movement, why it’s hit a wall, and how we need to pursue policies and regulations that make sweatshops and unsustainable practices untenable. A good reminder that “[w]e are not going to shop ourselves into a better world.”
  • From NPR,  a look at the problems inherent in fast fashion and how corporate-driven “recycling” efforts could be problematic. Also linked above.

P.S. Another great way to support ethical, independent makers is to shop on Etsy! Check out my list of cruelty-free clothing on Etsy here.

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Like this post? Let me know and I’ll work on guides to more specific types of ethical vegan apparel (undies, shoes, etc.). And please share your other favorite brands!

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Ethical clothing brands with vegan, cruelty-free options // govegga.comEthical clothing brands with vegan, cruelty-free options // govegga.comNote: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Handmade Vegan Holiday Gifts You Can Find on Etsy

As you might know, my love for Etsy knows no bounds. I’m constantly in awe of the creative independent makers who offers just about everything under the sun. I always want to support small businesses when it comes to holiday gift-giving, which means that many of my gifts end up coming from Etsy.

If you, too, would like to shop small this holiday season, read on! I’ve compiled a massive list of vegan-friendly, cruelty-free finds for everyone on your list. Happy shopping!

For the body!

For an exfoliating scrub that smells just like the holidays, check out this Vegan Balsam Flaxseed Rosehip Scrub. Loaded with flaxseed, colloidal oatmeal, and coconut milk, it’ll smooth away rough skin and leave you silky smooth.

If you need stocking stuffers, vegan lip balms are super affordable and come in tons of creative flavors. Mint Cocoa or Sugar Cookie (below) make great seasonal options!

Epically Epic Soap's Sugar Cookie Lip Balms

Image copyright Epically Epic Soap

>> For an extensive list of vegan lip balms you can find on Etsy, check out this post.

I don’t know about you, but I love receiving fancy soaps I wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. You can’t go wrong with classic English Lavender; it’s a season-neutral scent that’s so lovely and calming. For tea enthusiasts, try this beautiful Vanilla Rooibos Gift Set, which includes soap, lip balm, and a fragrant unisex perfume. (Or check out the Earl Grey Gift Set instead.)

For the facial-hair-havers on your list, beard oil could be fun. Try Ranger of the North if you want an Aragorn smell-a-like (swoon), or Headmaster if you’d prefer to channel Dumbledore.

This list would be remiss without including some of the fabulous accessories you can find on Etsy. The sweet Floria bag in one of its many beautiful colors makes for an affordable, fun gift, while this bold sapphire-blue clutch (below) is a splurge for someone whose style you know well.

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

>> For an extensive list of vegan handbags, purses, and backpacks you can find on Etsy, check out this post.

For the home!

Candles make great gifts because they’re useful, long-lasting, and fun. For the Harry Potter fans in your life, how about a handmade soy wax candle that’ll make their house smell like Christmas at Hogwarts or Mrs. Weasley’s Jumpers? Or for the fan of classic holiday movies, try a Whoville-scented candle.

If you know your recipient’s decorative style, an art print could be a sweet, thoughtful option. I love the food-inspired watercolors at Marcella Studio, especially this Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil print. (Though this one, which features kale varieties, is pretty great too.)

Fettle and Fire's pig planter

Image copyright Fettle and Fire

Plants make any home a little bit homier — so how about gifting this adorable ceramic pig planter (above) filled with an easy-to-care-for succulent? I love the simple design and how charmingly rotund this piggy is.

For a recipient with a fireplace, check out these Scented Fire Starters — they’re both pretty and practical.

For the belly!

In my personal opinion, handmade, high-quality chocolates are one of life’s greatest luxuries. In other words, if someone were to give me a box of fair-trade vegan chocolate truffles from Creek House for Christmas, I would not turn it down. (And I would not share (unless you asked really nicely).)

Creek House Patisserie's truffles

Image copyright Creek House Patisserie

Creek House offers samplers in a few different sizes (6 pieces, 12 pieces, etc.) and with some mouthwatering flavors (like chili mango dark espresso). I’ve given Creek House chocolates to vegan/dairy-free folks a few times in the past, and everyone has enjoyed them — but nobody offered to share. Alas. (Okay, fine, all the recipients live out of state so I can’t really blame them!)

Perhaps you want to share the joy of vegan baked goods with a loved one, but your baking skills end at popping open a can of cinnamon buns and squeezing on ready-made icing. Of course Etsy has you covered. You could try these incredibly decadent chocolate and peanut butter dessert bars from The Healthy Vegan, or maybe a six-pack of dark chocolate cannoli from Veganlotus. (I haven’t had cannoli in years so it’s taking me loads of self-control not to order these right now.)

For that other tea enthusiast in your life (you know, the one who didn’t receive the tea-scented body care goodies listed above!), how about a loose-leaf tea gift set? I’ve tried many of these myself, and I love the creative, tasty blends. This sampler comes with both herbal and caffeinated teas so your recipient can drink them any time of day.

If your giftee’s caffeinated beverage of choice happens to be coffee, how about a pound of freshly roasted and ground fair-trade coffee? This seller roasts beans to your roast level of choice (and helpfully explains each one) and will also grind them to your specifications, if you’d like.

And if beans are too obvious a gift for the coffee fiend in your life, check out the Etsy Editors’ Picks coffee-themed gift guide for dozens of creative, coffee-related accoutrements.

>> What’d I miss? Share your favorite Etsy shops and gifts in the comments!

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Vegan holiday gift guide for Etsy // govegga.com

All images copyright their respective owners.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

This list was originally published as part of the Vegan Month of Food, in line with the final prompt about giving vegan food gifts for the holidays.

Vegan on Etsy: Lip Balms!

vegan on etsy cruelty free etsy

Are you reading this and thinking, “Excuse me, an entire post about lip balm?!”

If so, I can understand your incredulity. But if you’re anything like me and most of my friends, you’ve got lip balms and chapsticks a-plenty, hanging out in various pockets, purses, and drawers.

Unfortunately, most commercial brands aren’t vegan, thanks to animal-unfriendly ingredients like beeswax (ew). Others come from companies who test on animals (double ew). Of course, there are some brands dedicated to creating cruelty-free, vegan lip products; my two favorites are Crazy Rumors and Hurraw.

Thanks to an expansive line of flavors, Crazy Rumors‘ balms are the closest you’ll get to the Lip Smackers of your youth. (Any other reformed Bonne Bell collectors/hoarders in the house?!) This coffee lip balm gift set would make a fun gift for the caffeine addict in your life, or you could try the a la mode ice cream lip balm gift set if you’re unwilling to let go of summer.

Hurraw‘s all-raw lip balms go on super smooth, although they don’t last particularly long. I’m currently using the Tinted Black Cherry variety, and I often swipe Steven’s chamomile and vanilla Moon Balm before bed. (Note that you can often find Hurraw for less at local health food stores; even Wegmans carries a few varieties.)

If you’d prefer to support independent makers, you’re in luck. Etsy is chock-full of vegan lip balms and cruelty-free chapsticks to suit your every mood and flavor desire. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive vegan stocking stuffer or just want to treat yourself, read on!

Epically Epic Soap

Image copyright Epically Epic Soap

Image copyright Epically Epic Soap

I have a friend who is a bit of an Epically Epic groupie — and for good reason! Epically Epic rocks a cruelty-free formula with great flavors. Here’s what the founder has to say: “My lip balm formula has luxuriant olive squalane, olive oil, olive butter, and organic virgin coconut oil. It’s glossy, creamy, and 100% vegan.”

Plus, her flavors rival even Crazy Rumors in both creativity and sheer volume (Blueberry Muffin, Cardamom Vanilla, and Peppermint Mocha, to name just a few). Plus, limited-edition flavors are introduced seasonally (yes, there’s a Pumpkin Spiced Latte flavor!). You can also find vegan body lotion, body butter, and soap in equally creative scents.

Levres

Image copyright Levres

Image copyright Levres

Looking for unfussy flavors, low prices, and the opportunity to try before you buy? Give this shop a shot. The lip balm flavors are wonderfully simple and oh-so-appealing (think Cinnamon, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Vanilla). And here’s a unique feature: You can purchase samples if you’re not sure whether you want to commit. (But at just $1.50 a pop, you can probably afford to go for a full-sized tube!) Levres also offers bulk orders at very reasonable prices; you can choose the flavors you want or opt for a surprise.

Maddieloos

Image copyright Maddieloos

Image copyright Maddieloos

Although this shop doesn’t offer as extensive a range as the others on this list, here’s what it does have: vegan lip balm with an SPF, thanks to the inclusion of iron oxide. Plus, Brown Root Beer and Copper Rose both have a slight shimmery tint. If sheer is more your speed, try the Cherry Cream with Lemon. Maddieloos also makes all-vegan shampoo, hair treatments, shaving products, and more.

Ollie and Max Soap Co.

Image copyright Ollie and Max Soap Co.

Image copyright Ollie and Max Soap Co.

Last year, I ordered a 10-pack of lip balms from Ollie and Max during a sale and included them in my Christmas gift packages to my lady friends. I loved picking out the flavors and ended up keeping a Cappuccino lip balm for myself. It’s still going nearly a year later, and I love the creamy texture and impressive staying power.

If I were to order again, I’d want to try Cupcake, Mango Lassi, and Strawberry Cheesecake. I’m also intrigued by the Tea Time Trio, which features Chai, Earl Grey, and Green Tea. If scents aren’t your thing, check out Au Naturel, an unflavored, unscented version. You can also find vegan deodorant, perfume oil, lotion, soap, and more.

Soap

Image copyright Soap/Bathing in Luxury

Image copyright Soap/Bathing in Luxury

Also known as Bathing in Luxury, this shop offers some more unusual scents, like Chardonnay Grapes, Pink Bubblegum, and Sweet Rose Candy. If you’re sad to be missing out on the bacon-flavored-everything trend that just won’t die (no comment), the Bacon flavor might appeal to you. And don’t be fooled by the inconsistent labeling/product descriptions; all lip balms are in fact vegan.

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So — what stands out to you on this list? Any shops I missed?

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Looking for vegan chapstick or lip balm on Etsy? Check out these shops! #vegan #etsy // govegga.com

Notes: All images are copyright their respective shop owners. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. And my primary purpose here is to connect vegans with quality, handmade goods that help support small businesses and indie designers. :) 

Food Monster: A New App from One Green Planet

If you’re a regular over at One Green Planet, you might have seen some of my recipes published in their Recipe Monster section. And if you’re not a regular, you should check it out! OGP is a fantastic resource for all things animal- and eco-friendly, from tips on living consciously to sweet animal stories to brighten your day.

Recently, my contact over at OGP let me know about a brand-new iPhone app they’re launching on Earth Day (April 22) and asked if I wanted to try it early. Um, yes please! I’d just gone through the arduous task of making space on my phone, so I figured I might as well fill up that space with an all-vegan recipe app. Read on for my thoughts!

Food Monster app opening screen

When you first open the Food Monster app, you’re treated to a stunning photo overlaid with the OGP logo. (See screenshot above.) I like the simplicity of that opening shot (which varies each time you open the app), but I wish it stayed there longer and that you could access a menu from that open screen. Instead, the app quickly jumps you right into the main page, and not quite seamlessly — there’s a little lag, and the image gets stuck for a second.

Once you’re into the app proper, here’s what you can do:

  • Review the latest recipes from the home screen. Tapping a recipe brings you to a screen with more info, including the ingredients, prep steps, and even comments for that particular recipe. You can also add the recipe to your favorites or send it to someone using the standard iOS sharing options.
  • Access “features,” which are OGP’s Buzzfeed-style lists (e.g., 15 Ooey-Gooey Caramel Recipes), and then follow links to the recipes listed in those features.
  • Search for recipes by ingredient, name, or other keywords. There’s also the option to search within your bookmarked recipes only, which is handy if you know you saved something and want to find it quickly.
  • Browse recipes in a variety of ways, including by season, meal, ingredient, or diet (e.g., high-protein, gluten-free).
  • Peruse collections of recipes, like “American Fusion” and “Single Serve.”
  • Stay on top of what’s hot with easy access to popular themes and recipes that are currently going viral.
  • Bookmark your favorite recipes to use later.

Food Monster app collections

What I like:

  • The integration with OGP’s lists (aka the features). The OGP editorial team must have it pretty good — they get to compile lists of mouth-watering recipes and share them with hungry vegans! I always enjoy their lists and I like that they’re included in the app so that users have a different way to access content (rather than just searching or browsing recently added recipes).
  • The multiple ways of finding content. I appreciate that you can browse pre-made collections (see screenshot above) or narrow down your search using keywords.
  • That the collections aren’t just simply based on type of meal or ingredient — they’re more creative than that. Having pre-made lists of budget-friendly recipes or quick recipes is really handy.

What I don’t like:

  • In the recipes themselves, fully half the screen is taken up by the bottom of the featured photo, the author’s name, recipe tags, and tabs for ingredients, preparation, discussion, and similar collections. So you’re losing half the screen real estate for what’s arguably the most important feature of this app — reading the recipe itself! When I’m cooking, nothing is more annoying than needing to scroll down after every little step. I’d prefer to see the entire recipe on my screen, or at least most of it. (See first screenshot in the gallery above.)
  • The way the menu bar at the top requires you to manually scroll to see the different links (i.e., on the homepage, the word “Features” is cut off in the default view). It’s not intuitive to have to manually scroll to the right — it feels like the app was designed as a recreation of the desktop site, which is not the best way to design for mobile. (See second screenshot in the gallery above.)
  • The animations are in general a little clunky — they often lag or stick a little bit, which detracts from the overall user experience.
  • The fact that you can’t access the home screen by tapping the Food Monster logo at the top — that’s how I intuitively want to do it, but it doesn’t work. Instead you have to tap the hamburger button, which opens a menu on the left side, and tap Home from there.
  • Within a recipe, there’s an option to favorite the recipe with a simple heart icon or by tapping a bookmark icon, which opens a menu and lets you categorize it by meal or diet right then and there. Having two ways to save a recipe seems unnecessarily confusing.

My overall opinion is that this app was generally well-thought-out, but it has some implementation issues. The design mixes very modern, clean images (i.e., the opening screen) with a slightly dated design on the interior screens. I can tell that the developers and UI team wanted to mimic the look and feel of the OGP website, but I’m not convinced it fully works on mobile. The laggy animations are distracting, and it’s a little buggy — I had trouble getting links to work a few times.

Is it worth $19.99? I don’t think so. Few apps are; twenty bucks is super steep and is not at all in line with market prices. All the content on Food Monster is available (for free!) on OGP’s website, making it difficult to justify the high price tag.

That said, I’m looking forward to using it more thoroughly over the next few months to get a better sense for how well it works when I’m in the kitchen. In the meantime, I’m saving all sorts of delicious-looking recipes for later use!

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The Food Monster app will be officially released on 4/22, but you can purchase and download it early using this link. If you do, let me know what you think!

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*Disclaimer: I was given a free one-year subscription to the app (valued at $19.99), but all opinions are thoroughly my own.

Vegan on Etsy: Bags, Purses, and Backpacks

vegan on etsy cruelty free etsy

Welcome to the first installment of my new series: Vegan on Etsy! I want to include more of the “lifestyle” in this here “food and lifestyle blog,” and what better way than highlighting the independent makers of Etsy? It’s my go-to source when I’m in the market for any new good; even if I ultimately purchase something elsewhere, Etsy is a crucial part of my research. As part of my drive towards minimalism and to do my small part to combat the overabundance of cheaply, unethically made goods, I try to make purchases with intention. I’m not perfect, but I’m trying — and I’d like to help you try, too. In this series, I’ll focus on different purchases one could make on Etsy, and I’ll call out cruelty-free, vegan options that catch my eye.

Up first: bags! purses! Or as my Grammy would say, pocketbooks. For cruelty-free, sustainably made handbags, wallets, and accessories, Matt and Nat is rightfully popular in the world of vegan shopping. But there are other options, especially on Etsy. (Which is not to knock Matt and Nat — I have two bags and an iPad case from them that I love and use regularly.) Recently, I was in the market for a cross-body, travel-friendly, not-super-fancy-but-also-smart-looking satchel-type bag I could use while traveling but also for work, if necessary. A tall order? You betcha. But Etsy came through. I’ll share my choice at the end of this post, but first I’d like to highlight some of the other cruelty-free bags I found during my research. I reached out to the owners of these shops and they all graciously chatted about their businesses and why they’ve chosen to offer only cruelty-free goods.

First, a note about prices: you are unlikely to find uber-cheap goods on Etsy, and if you do, you ought to question whether they’re truly made independently. The vast majority of Etsy’s makers are small independent creatives who really love what they do, and they do it well. You get what you pay for, and quality isn’t cheap. As I’m moving towards a smaller, more intentional and long-lasting wardrobe, I’m becoming okay with paying a little more for something that will last longer and be a true staple. Your mileage may vary!

100% Vegan Shops

Badimyon

If you’re into a utilitarian yet wholly unique aesthetic, Badimyon is a great place to start, with bags made of leftover materials from the upholstery and home décor industries.  Badimyon means “inside your imagination” in Hebrew, and the husband and wife team who run it live in an intentional community in Hakuk, Israel.

The community now includes 50 families who share similar values of self-sustainability, sharing and ecology,” founder Elad says. With a school system for the kids, yoga classes, and discussion circles, it sounds like a heavenly place to live — and to be creative. The founders strive to offer high-quality, limited-edition products, and their current line features everything from wallets up to roomy hobo bags in a variety of fabric and prints. I particularly like the neutrals; they’re a great unisex option.

Image copyright Badimyon

Image copyright Badimyon

My favorite product is this canvas backpack. I love the sleek shape and style and that it’s large enough to fit a laptop without looking bulky. Plus, Badimyon gives you the option to create a customized backpack by letting you mix and match fabrics.

The pricing here is about average for bags of this sort, and shipping from Israel to the US will be about $13.

Beg for a Bag

Despite its name, Beg for a Bag won’t leave you begging for options! Alongside typical options like messenger bags and backpacks, they also offer yoga mat bags, diaper bags, and even a doggie harness. Most items feature muted neutrals, although there are a few fun prints for the diaper bags.

Image copyright Beg for a Bag

The Shay tote caught my eye as an ideal travel bag. With lots of pockets and a zippered top, it’s roomy enough to stash all your essentials (including a laptop!) while still offering security.

Beg for a Bag’s prices skew a little higher than its competitors’, as does its shipping — about $15 to the US.

Cocoono Bags

Custom-made in a small workshop in Poland, Cocoono’s offerings are inspired by nature — their designs are available in cool beiges, greys, and taupes. I appreciate that they stick to about six styles and offer variations on those styles by updating the colors and patterns; it’s nice to see confident makers who do what they do and do it well. Cocoono just launched a limited-edition line for 2016 which features cruelty-free faux wool. It’s a really neat look!

Image copyright Cocoono Bags

Image copyright Cocoono Bags

I’m so intrigued by this Mega Shopper Bag! Most of my reusable shopping bags are anything but stylish, and that’s fine for groceries. But I admit to feeling a little strange on the few occasions when I buy clothes in a store and ask the cashier to put them in a Trader Joe’s bag! This tote would be great to take shopping; it even has smaller internal pockets for your wallet and phone.

The bags in this shop are all priced very reasonably for styles of their ilk, and shipping is typically about $12 from Poland to the US.

Good Mood Moon

Based in Ukraine, July and Alex of Good Mood Moon are self-professed vegans and animal lovers. They create gorgeous faux-leather bags, belts, bracelets, and more. With a dizzying array of colors on offer, there’s something to fit everybody’s taste. They cater more towards style than pure functionality and are perfect if you want to make a statement with your piece. If you get bored easily, you’ll love the fact that you can switch out the straps on their clutches and a few purses — you can build a whole rainbow of options!

goodmoodmoon_floria

Image copyright Good Mood Moon

I’ve been coveting the Floria bag for a while now, but it’s a little small for an everyday purse for me. Plus, I don’t know whether I could choose a color — there are so many beautiful options! Mint, dark teal, and grey all appeal to me.

Good Mood Moon’s prices are quite reasonable for handmade goods, although shipping from Ukraine to the US should run you about $10. I think $30 is a good deal for the Floria bag!

Ed. note, 2/24/16: I saw the Floria bag in the wild at a vegan mac and cheese event in Baltimore, and I just had to talk to the owner. She said it fits all her items and she likes it… and I liked the look of it, too!

Ed. note, 8/11/16: I bought the Floria bag for myself this summer, in a pretty reddish pink. I really love the material and the overall size, but I do wish it had at least one interior pocket. 

Marten Lab

With unique minimalist designs and colorblock styling, Marten Lab’s bags feature lots of inner pockets — making them both visually appealing AND super functional. They also offer geometric-shaped clutches that would make fantastic statement pieces. When she started this line, vegetarian founder Martina Pretto considered using leather. But she couldn’t do it.

“I’d have to force myself in a direction that I’d never feel as “mine”. So I’m always looking for beautiful, durable and cruelty free materials,” Martina told me.

And I’m so glad she didn’t. Her gorgeous designs, handmade in Italy, are beautiful options for fashion-forward vegans.

Image copyright Marten Lab

Image copyright Marten Lab

In an alternate universe, I live in a small-but-bike-friendly city and bike to work, and I use this bag to carry my laptop. Sigh!

These unique and meticulously created pieces are priced accordingly, and note that shipping to the US from Italy is typically around $22.

MeDusa Brand

Unlike many of the shops on this list, MeDusa unapologetically offers bright, bold-colored handbags. Although I tend to prefer calmer neutrals, I have quite a few friends who barely own anything black and whose outfits are always bursting with color. From vinyl clutches with embossed patterns to more demure shoulder bags with just a little pizzazz, MeDusa has a little bit of everything — including a panda-inspired cross-body!

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

This sapphire-blue clutch is amazing! I love how it melds a very modern medium (vinyl) with a more traditional lacy design. This is a statement piece if ever I’ve seen one.

MeDusa products are easily the most expensive on this list — you’re paying for innovative techniques, after all. Shipping from Israel to the US is remarkably inexpensive, though, at around $7.

Nevabags

With laid-back styles and eclectic fabrics, this shop offers casual multi-purpose bags that look especially great for parents. Their signature style is a convertible bag that can function as a backpack, shoulder bag, handbag, or messenger bag. Netta (the shop owner) even has a YouTube video that shows how to use the convertible bag.

Netta is a vegan living in Israel, and she describes her business as an adventure: “I am constantly searching and discovering new materials and new sewing techniques, creating high quality products that resemble leather bags and purses, but are 100% vegan. Each bag is unique, and much thought and effort were put to it, from designing to creating. ” Hear, hear!

Image copyright Nevabags

Image copyright Nevabags

I love this color combo — I could see myself using it as a shoulder bag mostly, but having the option to switch to all those other types would be so helpful.

All the bags in this shop are around the $100 range, and shipping is about $12 from Israel to the US.

Taska Handbags

Handmade in small runs in Canada, the bags in this shop are unlike any others on this list. Founder Nadya says it best: “Utilitarian design and eye-catching fabric combinations is what I strive for with each collection.” With geometric angles and the surprising use of large prints on relatively small bags, these designs are fashion-forward and eye-catching.

Nadya noted a dearth of “vegan accessories (shoes and bags especially) that were stylish and special,” which inspired her to start her own line.  As an animal lover, she’s proud to offer “a more interesting option when it comes to finding good quality cruelty-free accessories.”

Image copyright Taska Handbags

Image copyright Taska Handbags

I’m a sucker for diagonal zippers, so I love the look of this tote. And I also love how functional it is, with lots of interior pockets and features to make it easy to grab all your essentials. I always appreciate when a designer thinks through the use cases for her products!

Táska’s bags are on the high end of this list’s price range, and shipping will cost about $11 from Canada to the US.

Tracce Bags

For the classic leather handbag look, Tracce Bags is a great choice. The faux leather bags come in an impressive number of styles, from a demure shoulder bag to a big ol’ tote embellished with gold studs. Most styles are offered in muted tones, but there are some brighter options, particularly in the collection of wallets.

The owner, Paola, has been vegetarian since 1987 (the year I was born!) and told me that she always wanted to create a line of cruelty-free bags. When she discovered vegan leather, she says she fell in love immediately — and since then, she’s been “drawing and sewing bags, all day, sometimes all night too!”

Image copyright Tracce Bags

Image copyright Tracce Bags

This simple black clutch is just darling! I’ve got quite a few weddings to attend in the next few years (hello, late 20s!), and this simple yet elegant style looks like just the thing to carry the essentials.

Tracce’s prices are on the high end, typical of what you might spend on a similar non-vegan purse, and shipping seems to be a straight $20 within the US. But Paola often offers coupon codes, so be sure to check her shop announcement and shop notes to find a deal.

Non-Vegan Shops that Offer Vegan Items

I am a firm believer in voting with my dollar and supporting cruelty-free options from otherwise non-vegan makers. If none of the bags on my previous list quite strike your fancy, maybe you’ll find something here. But if you’re uncomfortable purchasing from folks who use leather, I understand and respect your decision.

Atlas Past

Spoiler! I ended up purchasing my “cross-body, travel-friendly, not-super-fancy-but-also-smart-looking satchel-type bag I could use while traveling but also for work, if necessary” bag here. My exact bag is no longer available, but it’s similar to this cross-body option. The good folks at Atlas Past confirmed that all the fabric is synthetic — no wool there. I’m very happy with my purchase!

Aiko Threads

The smocked details on these purses are just so fetching! I think this messenger bag would certainly turn heads.

Blue Calla

With one-of-a-kind bags in a variety of styles and colors, you’ll have to check back often to see if a new design strikes your fancy. The calming color combo on this handbag is just up my alley.

byMart

Faux leather meets simple, striking patterns in this shop. I particularly like the eye-catching patterns of their cross-body bags.

Disturbingly Adorable

I couldn’t not include this shop, if only because their bags come in happy soy print. Who doesn’t want smiling tofus on their purse?!

Sinem Inugur

Sometimes you just need a simple all-purpose bag, and this one would certainly fit the bill. Sinem Inugur offers clean lines, classic designs, and quality construction.

Twill and Print

The light, airy colors, sweet designs, and nature-inspired prints in this shop are a breath of fresh air. I just adore the look of this purple clutch — that tessellation pattern in gold is killer!

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Let me know whether you found this list helpful or felt like something was missing! Feel free to share your favorite Etsy sellers… and happy vegan shopping. :)

(P.S. You can find a whole list of ethical clothing options on Etsy here!)

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#vegan bags, purses, and backpacks on #etsy! Resource for vegan shopping. // govegga.com

Note: I’ve updated this post to include affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. And my primary purpose here is to connect vegans with quality, handmade goods that help support small businesses and indie designers. :)