I sort of feel bad for vegans. They can’t just shop for shoes and bags like everybody else.
Publish date:
August 27, 2012
clothes, shoppables, style, purses, vegan

I am a long-time vegetarian. I try not to yammer about it too much, because it’s annoying. Literally nobody cares about your personal diet preferences. It’s a topic that is about as interesting as a dirt sandwich. I do sort of feel bad for vegans though. They are just so tortured. Not only do they obsessively talk about what they just ate or are going to eat later, due to the fact that there are so few things they can actually eat, they also can’t just shop for shoes and bags like everybody else.

Trying to buy clothing, shoes and accessories that are produced ethically and didn’t harm any people or animals is an almost impossible task. The fashion world is just not enlightened enough to make it a viable option, unless you are someone who chooses to wear a uniform every day and can afford to wear Comme Des Garcons. I always think that one day I will wake up and decide to adopt some sort of uniform to make getting out of the house every morning way easier.

Since you have all seen my closet, you already know that me in a uniform is not likely to actually happen. In my dreams, I am a sleek Calvin Klein minimalist living in a lighted space pod. Sometimes I just feel so weighed down by all my STUFF.

So why not talk about more STUFF to stuff your closets with! I was idly sitting on my sofa stressing out about the fact that I am starting an 8-month job that will drain my brain of all cleverness when my mom called to tell me to “Turn on QVC!” My mom recently had both of her knees replaced, so she has been forced to take her shopping for clothing, jewelry and accessories online and onto the TV.

She has actually turned me on to quite a few good deals on well-made items from over the past few months. I used to be ashamed to say that I got something via home shopping television, as it seemed declasse. But now that I’m an adult and do not give one single crap what anyone thinks of me, I am all loud and proud all over town about buying stuff from “The Q”, as my mom calls it.

The program (I love that they call them programs!) that she wanted me to tune in for was about a line of vegan handbags made by Kooba. I have bought some leather Kooba bags at Barney's in the past and loved their styling.

I personally (I almost wrote PURSE-onally) don’t care whether a handbag is vegan or not, and I sort of suspect that QVC and Kooba decided to call these bags “vegan” simply to obfuscate the fact that they are really just vinyl purses. BUT, there are some really well-styled bags at great prices!

Charlotte tote, $57.36:

Gillian hobo, $64.48:

Ella python tote, $65.00:

Natasha satchel, $53.52:

Shelley shopper tote, $69.00:

Like many mid-priced bags aimed at vegans, they are made with PVC and polyurethane. It’s quite hard to find realistic looking faux-leather bags that don’t have what some people would consider a harmful chemical element, unless you splash out for a snappy Stella McCartney number.

Stella claims (and I believe her) that the particular PVC she uses is from a low-emissions factory that observes green practices.

But there are well designed vegan bags to be had at all price points, if you are willing to wade through thousands of Internet pages of them. Which is clearly what I was put on this earth to do, so here are some that I love. (I purposely only featured "faux" leather ones, as I am not a big carrier of cloth bags, unless it's my Smiths tote bag from Hot Topic circa 1997.)

Glam clutch, $39.95:

I think that patent or high gloss PVC bags are what fools the eye best. A super shiny sheen seems like a purposeful style detail, and not just a by-product of the item being cheap. Plus I love carrying a clutch, I like the feeling that I could bop anyone on the head with it that displeased me.

Vegan leather tote in natural or black, Dr., $38.99:

This bag reminds me to tell you one of my television show shopping secrets: Dr., the most random website on earth, is a good place to stalk for fun, cheap, colorful and trendy fashion that isn't stuff you've already seen a million times at the mall. They have great customer service. And they are based in Philly! I don't know why I care, I just happen to know that fact and thought I'd share.

Matt&Nat black faux leather bag, $116.99:

This is the closest thing I found to that ridiculously beautiful Stella McCartney bag up there. Studs and spikes are so done, but zippers and chains shall live forever in my world.

Matt&Nat denim bag, $64.99:

I know I said I was only going to feature faux leather bags, but I just love bleach dye so much. Here's an easy do-it-yourself tutorial that I've successfully used to do a reverse tie-dye on old, faded black clothes using bleach.

Chain handle bag with tassels, $49.95:

I could purchase an endless number of chain handle bags with tassels on them. I dream about Chanel chain bags like the secret socialite I really wish I was. Tassels are also a huge trend for fall -- I'm writing more about them later in the week.

I am always looking for more ethical fashion that is also aesthetically pleasing, but it's a real challenge. I know I can live the rest of my life not using any beauty products tested on animals, but cruelty-free clothes and accessories is a barren no-man's land. If you smarties know of some good eco-friendly stuff, do tell!

I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison