Are you a vegan, or an eco-warrior? It’s not an easy question to answer. Yet many of us are finding ourselves faced with a dilemma, especially when it comes to handbags. Do you favour the time-honoured vegan PVC options, while winking at the implications of PVC production for the planet, or do you prefer to think holistically, accepting leather as a natural product and trying not to get hung up on the implications of supporting the meat industry?
Well, thanks to New Yorker Morgan Bogle, there’s also a third way, and it’s called Freedom Of Animals. Bogle’s ethical label uses post-consumer polyurethane to mimic the gorgeous softness and texture of real leather. Polyurethane is safer than PVC to produce because it doesn’t involve the same range of harsh chemicals, nor release harmful, non-degradable dioxins, and careful research has led the company to a finishing process that uses 70% less energy than most consumer fabrics. Yet not only are Freedom Of Animals faux leathers both EPA and PETA approved (a feat in itself), they’re water-resistant, easy to clean and pass rigorous American durability testing.
They’re also, crucially to lifelong vegetarian Bogle, convincingly luxurious. She told Elle: “This was an area that we could not compromise, and we have been highly critical of the texture and touch of each element.”
Bogle’s distinctive, stylish bags are made locally and lined with organic cotton and recycled plastic water bottles. While zips are made by a luxury Italian manufacturer using organic cotton and recycled metal, most other components are sourced from ethical US companies to allow careful scrutiny of supply chains and manufacturing processes. The fabulous range of sophisticated colours in this year’s Autumn/Winter collection [http://freedomofanimals.com/collections/bag], which range from subtle blue greys to sassy red and white, are created using recycled vegetable dyes.
Since the company launched in 2012, the bags have been embraced by stars like Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway, for their sleek designs and luxurious production. Bogle sees her mission as allowing people to bring about real change through fashion. “What you purchase and consume is the biggest voice you have in the world,” she says.