Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Kind (and beautiful) Bags & Wallets

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Kind Companies, leather | 10 comments

“When you dress in suede or leather, Or some fancy fur or feather, Do you stop and wonder whether, Are you wearing someone’s brother, Perhaps it’s someone’s mother” – Dr Doolittle


My aptly captioned bag from

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when I would not have thought twice about buying something made of leather. I found it synonymous with quality and luxury and found the vegan anti leather beliefs to be a bit nuts. When I did give it any thought, I justified my purchase by telling myself “it’s just a by product of the meat industry, right ? I am honoring the animal’s life by making sure that every part is used etc etc.”

Moving on a couple of years and things have changed somewhat. I’ve read up on what the real cost of leather is to both animals and the environment and it is not pleasant.

There is an interesting debate going on at Mamamia – over the scorn that a rabbit vest-ed wearing staff member copped from her leather jacket clad workmates. Reading through the comments, it became apparent that the most common view point is that fur wearing is evil and it’s wearer should be shunned because of the inherent cruelty behind it’s production but leather is OK. I agree that it is possibly the lesser of the two evils – but only just. Afterall….(and what has put me off ever buying leather again) :

  • most leather comes from China and India where animal welfare considerations are zero. You can almost guarantee that the animal who was killed for it’s skin died in pain and fear. Read more here.
  • recent investigations have shown that dog skin is commonly used to make products like gloves, imported from China, and legally sold here. It looks exactly the same as cow, pig and goat skin (read more here) so you would never know what animal’s skin you are actually wearing.
  • It is a fallacy that leather is just a by product of the meat industry and much leather comes from young calves (as well as an array of other animals) who’s meat is not used (read more in this interesting article from The Guardian)
  • In India,exhausted cows are made to walk to their deaths by people breaking their tails and rubbing chili into their eyes to make them walk to be slaughtered. (read more here)
  • The tanning process of making an animal’s skin become leather is horrendous for the environment and the worker’s health.


HOWEVER, the glorious thing is that in this day and age, there are so many gorgeous alternatives out there to leather. This post will concentrate on wallets and handbags. Shoes, belts, car interiors, footballs and all the myriad of things commonly made from leather…they’ll have to wait for another day. I hope if you are after a new wallet or bag made from non animal materials, you’ll consider one of these lovely, artistic, ethical and (mostly) local companies. Such a better place for your money to end up than the alternative wouldn’t you agree ?

Needle vs Thread : Simply stunning array of bags / handbags of all varieties made in the Blue Mountains – you can pick your own fabric (including Kokka Wolves, Koi, Foxtrot – how do I choose ??). Whenever this stall is at Marrickville Markets, I dither around, fondling and gazing at the bags but leave empty handed (nightmare customer) due to quite literally having too many fantasy bag choices to pick from. Well, maybe this one


Needle Vs Thread Small Messenger Bag


(but with Koi fabric) is winning the race….(shameless hint to boyfriend with my birthday on the horizon !)

Anna Nova : Stick an owl, fox or elk on something and I’m sold. I own one of these elk motif-ed “faux leather” wallets (with a matching baggage tag) and would highly recommend this affordable brand if you are not into plain wallets.

Catherine Manuell Design : If you can’t find a bag (handbags, travel bags, wheely bag, slouch bags – you name it) here which tickles your fancy, I give up. This Australian company feature a lot of Aboriginal designs too which assist Indigenous women in outback Australia. I have a beautiful maroon CMD shoulder handbag which is now headed into it’s 2nd decade.

Orange Oranges : Gorgeous Brisbane company selling a vast array of cruelty free bags, even man bags. They stock the highly acclaimed…..

Matt and Nat bags and wallets too. This Canadian Company sell their beautiful, sleek, elegant array of bags / wallets / purses of every type in Australia. Their environmental kudos is outstanding (including the fact that 100% of their linings are made from recycled plastic bottles !)


Vegan Ware’s Belperio bag

Vegan Wares – another wonderful, cruelty free wonderland with bags (love the Belperio bag above) and wallets galore. I recently bought my fella a Vegan Wares wallet to replace his tatty looking (leather !) Country Road wallet. It looks like the real thing and has opened up a whole array of debates amongst his very blokey work mates about all kinds of animal welfare issues which is what all of this is about….making people think !


My fella proudly displaying his new Vegan Wares wallet









Cuban Pink – I fell in love with my Cuban Pink handbag many moons ago. It is still going strong and I am always receiving lovely compliments about it. My google searches have led me to the belief that these handmade bags (with each fabric an original) are now only being sold at Bangalow Markets. Anyway, I wanted to show it off !!

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

For a final shout out whilst we are on the bag topic, for an evening clutch, you need to peruse “Biddy Bags”. A treasured friend bought me the red Signature Sarah Blasko biddy bag a few years ago and, for my increasingly rare nights out on the town, I adore it. They are such a great company too – connecting isolated “mature age” ladies who share their amazing talents to whip up gorgeous bags (and teas cosies).

So many durable, original, cruelty free local designs out there. As per the beautiful mantra from Edgar’s Mission “if we could lead happy and healthy lives without harming others….why wouldn’t we ?”. Why indeed.





Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. lisa

    Oh no! Two weeks too late! I just bought a new leather wallet without really considering that there could be other suitable options available 🙁 Great article my little biddy 😉

  2. Stephanie

    Great post! I love Nat and Matt and that is the wallet I use now. It’s nice to know that someone else is thinking about these issues too. I am so grateful for all the cool vegan products that are out there!

    • Tread Kindly

      Thanks Steph – the Nat and Matt stuff looks great – so glad to hear that you own one of their beautiful wallets. It is amazing isn’t it about the inventive products out there. We live in great times to have so many choices (which I am sure is only going to get bigger in the vegan world – things are definitely shifting !) x

  3. Jess

    Great post Ing! Spot on re people’s ingrained belief that leather equals quality. There are so many great non-leather options out there these days, we just need to branch out from the “norm”. A couple months ago I had a woman come by my pop-up shop, admire several bags, but then stopped looking at them after I told her they were vegan. She proudly proclaimed (in a kind & humorous way) that she only bought leather, though she was totally against animal cruelty. After chatting for a few minutes about the quality of the bags, and after she started to admire a few more, leather-only-lady bought a vegan leather bag! She was lovely – just a rookie that had to get over the “leather is best/ vegan is weird” mentality 🙂

    Thank you for mentioning Orange Oranges as well. I started OO last year because I had a hard time finding vegan leather bags as awesome at MATT & NAT in Aus. Now I have a hard time choosing! 🙂

    • Tread Kindly

      Thanks so much for stopping by Jess. I am so glad that leather only lady saw the light ! And thank goodness for companies like yours – was so happy stumbling upon it recently. You have some beautiful products and LOVE the fact that you are local. Hope business is booming !

  4. sue brinksma

    what on earth do you do when you have serious foot problems and the only shoes that you can buy are leather? These days all shoes that I can buy that actually fit are made in china, quite a dilemma for me. Any suggestions would be welcome.



    • Tread Kindly

      Hi Sue, good query and I can only give you a non specific answer at this stage – I too have problem feet and need orthotics. I have found comfy vegan hiking boots and the most comfortable summer shoes I’ve found are actually, dare I admit it, Crocs (I found a very un- Croc looking sandal) – I have been wearing them for years. A friend swears by her Vegan Birkenstocks for comfort. Maybe give Vegan Wares a try (they are quite expensive but, so worth it for a comfy pair of long lasting shoes). Good luck and I promise to do a post on this very issue in the not too distant future.

  5. Sandra

    I love my Matt and Nat wallet and it’s good to know their products are available in Australia. I find the leather alternatives are just great now. Fashionable and long lasting. Thanks for all the links. Lots of useful information you have put together.

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