an ethical alternative: pastel leather handbags

During last week’s snow day doldrums, I asked readers to give me prompts for posts. Catherine kindly stepped up to the plate, letting me know she was looking for a pastel handbag similar to the ones shown in Coach’s Spring 2015 Collection (she wasn’t that detailed, actually, but I read her blog, so I know she’s had Coach on her mind). 
Finding an ethically sourced pastel leather bag is more difficult than you’d think. The bags above are the best matches I could find under $500.00. I must admit I haven’t done a ton of research on leather production; I know tanning is typically a pretty nasty chemical process and that not all leathers are sourced from livestock used for meat. For this reason, I asked each company to fill me on on their leather sourcing and have listed relevant information below. 
The bags that made the cut are (clockwise from top):

Brynn Capella Pamela Hobo

  • Price: $350.00
  • Handmade in Chicago, IL
  • Donates to various causes, mostly local

Blair Ritchey Pak in Thistle

  • Price: $245.00
  • Handmade in Cleveland, OH
  • Leather sourced from USA

Parker Clay All Leather Purse in Tie-Dye Grey

  • Price: $225.00
  • Handmade in Ethiopia
  • Leather sourced from Ethiopia
  • Byproduct of meat industry

Sseko Designs Leather Citrus Shibori Hobo

  • Price: $189.99
  • Handmade in Ethiopia
  • Sheepskin Leather sourced from Ethiopia
  • Byproduct of meat industry with full animal utilized 
  • Free range


Recommendations from Readers:

  • Vegan Leather Bags from JOYN
  • Leather sourced from cows who have naturally passed from Matr Boomie

Tell me your favorite brands in the comments and I’ll add them to this post!

Looking for more? Shop 100+ sustainable and ethical brands with my Sustainable Brand Directory.
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  1. Lovellie Sugar
    May 16, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    These are so cute. Everyone at fashion week has been obsessing over different bags recently. Visit Celebrity Handbags Online

  2. Gagi Wallet
    March 15, 2015 / 1:59 am

    Wow i am very interesting to use all bags..leather handbag

  3. Leah Wise
    March 6, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Hey, Lauren! Send me an email at I have a few resources for you.

  4. Catherine Kowalik Harper
    March 6, 2015 / 2:38 am

    Leah, thank you again for these great links and I will be checking them out. Just wanted to mention that I'm always on the hunt for fair trade clothing for children, which is pretty hard to come buy. I do buy a lot of gently used clothing from Thred Up, and Tea Collection online is not technically fair trade, but follows fair trade principles. They are pricier, so I try to shop on sale.

  5. Leah Wise
    March 6, 2015 / 12:19 am

    Hello and welcome! I don't know of many fair trade kids blogs, but I do know that a lot of brands I like offer a selection of children's items. I'll get back to you on it as soon as I do a bit of research and I'll also put out some feelers in the blogger network I'm a part of.

  6. lauren
    March 6, 2015 / 12:01 am

    New read here – found you through your RHE post. I love your site, and I am inspired and excited to transition my wardrobe to one that is ethical and intentional. However, I buy clothes for myself rarely. Who DO i buy for? My sons – ages 10 and 7. We get many pieces from thrift/second hand stores, but I would love to learn about fair trade/sustainable options for kids' clothes. Do you know of any good brands? Or any blogs with a similar approach as yours but for kids' clothing? Thanks so much!

  7. Leah Wise
    March 5, 2015 / 5:23 pm

    Do you work for American Nomad? Just wondered, because if you do, I wanted to see if you'd like to do an interview or guest post.

  8. Leah Wise
    March 5, 2015 / 5:19 pm

    Oh! That's great. Thanks for the resources. I'm going to add your suggestions to the end of the post.

  9. Michelle Wolfarth
    March 5, 2015 / 5:12 pm

    You always post such wonderful information! Have you checked out JOYN? They use vegan leather and the purses that use genuine leather, it is ethically sourced from animals that have naturally passed. I love them and the work they do in India to establish sustainable and meaningful work. The Mary Poppins bag is my favorite! is also another brand, Matr Boomie, that only uses leather from animals that have naturally passed and they also use a 100% vegetable tanning process that is eco-friendly. Their bags are a little more casual, but equally cute and they also promote socially conscious and fair trade practices throughout India. look forward to your next post!

  10. Leah Wise
    March 5, 2015 / 5:09 pm

    Cool. The thought crossed my mind to look up vegan options after I'd already created the graphic, so I just stuck with it.

  11. Catherine Kowalik Harper
    March 5, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    Leah, thank you very, very much for these suggestions! I will definitely check them out. I've looked around at some ethical vegan leather options, too. 🙂

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