One of the questions I get asked the most is why we started a handbag brand, or more specifically, why we started a vegan handbag brand. Here's a bit about that story.
I’ve always loved handbags and by my mid-20s I had accumulated quite a collection. It wasn’t that I loved designer/expensive bags, I just liked different styles and colours and my handbag was always the last but most important finishing touch to my outfit. I loved the sense of empowerment and confidence it gave me, and from a practical perspective I need something to carry all my things in during my London commutes! My style has evolved a lot since those early days, but my love of handbags has always remained.
I quickly realised that the love of handbags was deep-rooted. My mum has always loved handbags and my grandmother took pride in wearing quality handbags with beautiful finishes. I realised that I had to turn this love and passion from the generations into something, and STORY 81 was born.
Why vegan handbags?
Having been a vegetarian all my life (going vegan) and being born into a family of vegetarians too, I was never comfortable with using animal leather. I looked for animal- free alternatives that suited my personal style but never quite found the right shape, or finish, or it wasn’t quite the right strap – the list goes on. So when I decided to create STORY 81, the core purpose was to give people like me, whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or just don’t want to use animal leather, a kinder alternative to leather handbags, while staying true to timeless, contemporary style. I knew that if I searched hard enough to find alternative materials, I could still create quality, stylish handbags without harm to animals.
There’s lots of debate about using animal skin leather Vs alternative materials and animal leather is often seen as more sustainable because it’s already a by-product of the meat-industry. But for a community of vegans/vegetarians like us who don’t believe in harming animals in the first place (and in turn not consuming the meat), the leather from animals is usually not an option (more on that in another Journal post!).
Developing a brand that reflects those same values was essential to me, and had to be at the core of STORY 81. Since we’ve started the brand, it’s been so amazing to be part of a community of other like-minded individuals who share those same values and support brands like ours.
The right vegan materials
We currently work with PU (polyurethane) as an alternative to animal leather, and none of our bags contain PVC - a material that is much more harmful for the environment. You can shop our current collection of PETA-approved vegan bags here.
The landscape of vegan materials is changing and it’s an exciting time. We’re currently exploring plant-based alternatives such as Pinatex (pineapple leather), Desserto (cactus leather), apple leather and MyloTM (mushroom leather) for our next collection. To stay updated on our news, sign up to our newsletter here.
All of our handbags come in a luxury vegan gift box, made using 95% recycled and 100% vegan friendly materials – read our Journal post about our vegan gift boxes here.
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