Sorry it's going to be bag heavy review week but recently on Instagram I asked what you guys want to see reviewed next and lovely Sarah asked for suggestions of an ethical version of the little black bag (so Sarah this one's for you!). And I love these kinds of questions because as you all know I'm such a bag lady. So without further ado here are some of my picks!
Of course I have to start with my go-to favorite ethical brand, Everlane. Yes they're not sustainable nor slow fashion, but they are ethical in that they produce their goods in factories where they ensure they pay their workers a fair wage and provide safe working conditions. Their leather bags are usually produced in Italy or Spain. These bags are made in Ubrique, Spain, which is also where Polene makes their bags (and when I asked Polene about the ethics of production in this town they let me know that since this what this town is known for, everything is highly regulated and done by the book). The leather of this foldover bag reminds me a lot of the kind of leather used in those lovely Comme des Garcons pouches (also coincidentally made in Spain). This foldover crossbody is one of my favorite bags from Everlane because it's super practical and minimal but made with really yummy leather. Also you can tuck in the straps and use it as a clutch in the evenings if you want, and the crossbody strap is adjustable (perfect for my short stature!). I have the same one in oxblood and you can read my review of it here. I traveled all over Europe with my foldover crossbody bag and I found it to be the perfect traveling companion!
Cuyana is also a well-known brand in the ethical space and they produce their bags in Italy at small artisanal factories. I've tried their bags before and find that they are usually well made and quite durable. My favorite black bags from current their line-up is their Mini Bow Bag (that Napa leather looks as amazing as Prada's!) and their Classic Shoulder Bag (which Andrea reviewed here). I've tried their Mini Saddle Bag before (review here), but found it a bit too small for my needs, but if you like the half moon shape then the larger one might be a good fit!
If you're looking for an ethical company that supports artisans from developing countries and pays fair trade wages then Nisolo is your brand. They also produce a line of ethical black bags including their Maya Folded Purse, which is like the Everlane Foldover Crossbody but without the zippers or adjustable strap, or the one I really like called the Clara Crossbody. Both purses are super simple yet elegant. Full disclosure here I have yet to try their line of purses so I can't speak to how they wear over time.
Matt & Nat is everyone's go to bag brand if you want well-made ethical vegan bags. They are also one of the few bag brands that you can call at least partially sustainable since they use 100% recycled water bottles for their bag linings and incorporate other recycled material in their non-leather bags. I used to have one of their bags a long time ago and I can tell you they hold up well. Also a lot of the times you can't even tell it's not real leather (until you touch it of course). I like their Large Drew Bag which is a simple crossbody bag with removable straps and the Bini bag which is their version of the bucket bag. Seriously they have so many great styles of vegan bags, so if that's what you're looking for then you need to check them out!
So this is another brand I haven't tried yet, but I've seen this local-to-me brand pop up on my radar from time to time. Each bag is hand made to order in SF, thus the price is a tad higher than the rest. But I love all that Teresa, the owner, stands for and all the charities she gives back to.
I've had a couple Clare V bags before and I have to say they are really lovely. If you're looking for more fun and varied designs, then Clare V has a lot to choose from. All their bags are made in Los Angeles so as long as they're following US laws, you know the workers are being paid at least minimum wage and are working in safe manufacturing conditions. The couple of black bags that caught my eye are the Herieth bag and the Le Box Bag (I can see myself switching the short strap for a longer one and maybe wearing it crossbody).
Secondhand from Fashionphile
Ok, you knew this was coming right? How can I talk about ethical bags without talking about my favorite and most sustainable way to buy bags: secondhand from my favorite online consignment store Fashionphile. I talk about them in-depth here if you want to learn more about them. But as you know I'm a big believer in buying luxury bags secondhand since designer bags are usually well made and thus they last you for years if not decades. Also luxury bags have a really good resale value, so even when you're done using it you can pass it on to someone else who would love it and give it a good home and you get some of your money back. Above are some black bags that I picked that are currently in stock at Fashionphile, but their stock is always rotating fairly quick so here's a link to their selection of black bags under $500.
What are some of your favorite ethical brands that make a little black bag? Would love to hear what you guys carry and recommend!