In addition to the built-in shoulder straps, the Mena tote bag from Jeane & Jax comes with an adjustable crossbody strap.

4 Canadian Companies Bringing Faux Leather Bags Mainstream

Now that alternatives to traditional animal leathers have caught on with luxury brands such as Stella McCartney and Hermès, it’s worth considering anew what faux leathers could mean for the future of the fashion industry—not to mention the sustainability of the planet. Savvy shoppers have heard of Matt & Nat, the OG of Canadian faux-leather brands; these four north-of-the-49th companies are also making names for themselves.


Hidden inside the Artist crossbody bag by Espe are multiple storage pockets.

Espe designs often incorporate an element of whimsy, such as a bright colour, a sweet bird, or a cheeky cat. “I just felt that in the vegan space, there wasn’t enough fun. It was all a bit serious,” says Elizabeth Hardy, owner and CEO of the Toronto-based company. For her, the choice not to use traditional leathers in her handbags and wallets stems from her love of animals. With obvious pride, she mentions her company’s certification by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which ensures that no materials derived from animals—not even in glues—are used. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about vegan products,” she points out, and PETA certification helps to clear up some of the confusion. “The market is huge for vegan products, and it’s growing at a very, very fast rate. So that’s really positive.”


Made from apple leather, the limited-edition Jade bag by Riona comes with both a wristlet strap and a crossbody strap.

Designer Maddie Ciccone is picky about which faux leathers she chooses for each Riona bag. “They have to be soft. They have to be pliable. They have to be flexible,” she says. “When we touch the Riona bags, they feel like lambskin.” The bags also have to be cruelty-free, sustainable, and durable. Upping the sustainability factor, each one’s lining is made from recycled plastic bottles. Ciccone mentions that the Montreal-based, PETA-certified company uses apple skins in some of its polyurethane leathers and is also contemplating vegan leathers made from pineapple, cactus, mushroom, or coffee grounds. “We’re slowly tapping into different sustainable products and materials in different departments.”


Crafted from grape leather, the Siena bag by Lambert can be worn as either a handbag or a shoulder bag.

Lambert uses supple vegan leathers in its durable handbags, totes, backpacks, and wallets. The Montreal-based, PETA-approved company was started by Mélissa Lambert when she was a young mother. Unable to find the practical but chic vegan leather bags she was seeking, she decided to create her own. Another driving motivation for her is the desire to avoid the high environmental cost of animal leathers.

Jeane & Jax

The lining of the Mena tote bag from Jeane & Jax is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Based in Montreal, Jeane & Jax uses recycled vegan leathers along with plant-based fabrics to produce strong but luxuriously soft handbags, backpacks, and wallets. Founder Silvia Gallo makes sure to avoid PVC, a cheap polymer found in low-quality synthetic leather bags, because it cracks easily and is terrible for the environment. And to ensure no hazardous metals are used, the company makes its own custom hardware.

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Post Date:

October 12, 2023