Material derived directly or indirectly from the bodies of animals must not be used for a purse to be considered a vegan product. Therefore, leather, wool, silk, and fur should be omitted in favor of synthetic alternatives. Various types of vegan purses are available in all markets, from discount stores to high-end boutiques, and are seen on fashion show runways. Available options may be designed for function, style, or both, and are sold in a variety of colors and textures.
Synthetic leather, derived from plastic, gives handbags the look and feel of genuine leather at a lower cost and without the animal origins. Although artificial leather may not be as durable as leather, it requires less maintenance, and is usually easier to clean. Some forms of synthetic leather are machine washable or can be dry cleaned. Leather-like vegan purses can be identified by labels that include terms like pleather, man-made materials, synthetic, or cruelty-free.
Most fabric purses are made with cotton, hemp, polyester, or fleece. These are all plant-based or synthetic fabrics, and the bags are usually vegan as long as leather or fur are not used for trim. Some fabric purses may be made of wool or silk, however, which are not vegan. Shoppers who prefer vegan purses should always read the labels to make sure they are not mistaking animal-derived fabrics for vegan materials. Wool, cashmere, fur, or silk may sometimes be blended with synthetic fabrics, although this is usually specified on the label. Materials such as canvas and nylon are frequently used to make handbags that are functional, easy to clean, and vegan.
Trendy handbags, such as those made with fur, have vegan alternatives made with synthetic fur, which may look very similar to genuine pelts. Quilted or padded bags should be stuffed with synthetic material or cotton, instead of down. Purses designed to complement formal gowns can also be vegan. Shoppers should look for materials such as rayon, polyester, or nylon, all of which can be made to look similar to silk, and silk blends, such as satin.
Manufacturers of vegan purses often look for ways to contribute to the environment. Natural fibers, such as hemp, cotton, and bamboo, are frequently used to create handbags. Some types of vegan purses may be made with recycled materials, such as paper, aluminum cans, or plastic bottles. These materials may be processed after recycling to look similar to shiny patent leather, distressed leather, or fabric.