High-End Sustainable Accessories Brands Actually Worth Your Money
September 29, 2019
Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to give up on high-end and luxury clothing. Most ethical brands are pricier – and higher quality – than fast fashion anyways because the external costs (environmental and labor costs) are included in the cost. But what if you have the means and just want that extra something to treat yourself with some cute designer accessories?
While I don’t think buying luxury items is necessary or will make you happier than buying normal clothes, I do love unique pieces and I wouldn’t mind spending more on them if I could. If that’s something that’s part of your lifestyle I don’t want you to feel like you have to give up on it because you want to be a more conscious consumer.
There are so many amazing sustainable fashion brands out there carrying super stylish, high-end collections. And fortunately, more and more high-end brands are switching to more eco-friendly practices. As the sustainable fashion movement is growing so do our options to choose from.
So don’t worry, we (me and the industry) got you covered!
Here’s the list of the coolest, most unique, most stylish high-end eco-brands to shop for bags, shoes, sunglasses, and other accessories.
The Most Sustainable Designer Brand: Stella McCartney
You probably know Stella McCartney already, but this list just wouldn’t be complete without her. Stella McCartney was the first well-known designer who started to pay attention to sustainability. McCartney, the daughter of musicians and animal rights activists Linda and Paul McCartney, is a life-long vegetarian, and she doesn’t use any fur or leather in her designs.
Leather is very bad for the environment because cows produce a lot of greenhouse gases and the tanning process can also be very chemical-intensive, so avoiding it is already a huge step towards being eco-friendly. But Stella takes it even further. She put sustainability into the core of her brand and she’s constantly looking for new ways to improve in this area.
“We are agents of change. We challenge and push boundaries to make luxurious products in a way that is fit for the world we live in today and the future: beautiful and sustainable. No compromises.”
Stella McCartney was the first luxury brand to show the fashion industry that all of this is possible. Brands can create beautiful, stylish, and trendy clothes and accessories without destroying the planet, killing animals, and exploiting workers in the supply chain. I love how Stella is paving the way for other high-end brands to follow and simultaneously putting the bar higher for the fashion industry.
No compromises. You can look stylish and do good at the same time. By supporting Stella MacCartney, you support the change of this whole system. Because she’s there at all the major fashion shows, showing up with amazing collections that are sustainable too. And other designers need to keep up with her in order to stay relevant especially in the time of this environmental crisis.
You know, you, as a consumer, don’t need to buy into trends to stay relevant. But if you do, make sure to support brands such as Stella McCarney that are bringing some positive change in the world. These pieces are made to be cherished for a long time, not only for a couple of months.
If you’re looking for a vegan bag or footwear, this brand has the most iconic pieces. The classic leather-free Falabella tote bag with a chain strap will probably never go out of style. I am also pretty much in love with their Eclypse sneakers which get some new and exciting designs every new season or so.
Affordable Luxe Vegan Handbags: Sans Beast
Sans Beast is another vegan brand that doesn’t want to compromise on style. Their bags look way better than any leather bags on the market, and any fashionista (vegan or not) would be happy to get their hands on one of these bad boys.
The Australian brand launched only in March 2018 Cathryn Wills, and it quickly became a huge success in the vegan fashion community. Wills adopted a vegetarian diet in 2015, and after working in retail for over 30 years she decided to create her own collection which aligned better with her new values and lifestyle.
Sans Beast means “Without Animal” and their mission is to create quality bags and accessories without the use of any animals products. The vegan brand markets itself as luxe and the bags surely look and feel luxurious. Fortunately, they are much more affordable than designer brands.
The collection is all about the latest bag trends that make all fashion girls happy this year. But at the same time, the bags are designed to be timeless and to be worn for a long time. First of all, they are made of PU leather which is a highly durable leather alternative perfect for bags and shoes.
The second trick that makes Sans Beast bags so trendy yet simultaneously so versatile is their signature logo strap. Not only logos are very in style right now, but the strap makes it possible for you to wear your favorite bag in many different ways. Or, only by switching up the strap your old bag can get a new look and a prolonged life.
Sans Beast has previously collaborated with Unreal Fur, an Australian designer brand that creates vegan fur clothing. The collaboration resulted in these cute faux fur bags that are already on sale which is perfect for us, living on the other half of the globe just starting to prepare our autumn/winter wardrobes.
The vegan brand has also created these adorable bag charms to raise funds for Edgar’s Mission, a non-profit sanctuary for rescued farm animals. These would make amazing gifts while you’d support charity and animals at the same time!
Sustainable Animal-Free Luxury Footwear: RAFA
Meet the shoe brand that checks all the boxes: it’s vegan, it’s sustainable and made from mostly recycled materials, it’s handmade in a small ethical factory, it’s made to order so no unnecessary waste is generated, and it’s made in the USA! And their shoes are freakin’ cute! RAFA to me is the blueprint of how all shoe companies should work!
First of all, it is completely animal-free which, if you’ve paid any attention to this or any of my previous posts, is only the baseline to me. Animals are living, breathing creatures who have feelings, families, and friends, and who grieve their loved ones just as humans do. They are amazing creatures, not burgers or shoes, end of the story, thanks for coming to my TED talk.
RAFA shoes are made with Ultrasuede® which is a very lightweight, soft, and luxurious textile made with recycled and biomass-derived polymers. It’s a blend of about 80% recycled plastic and 20% plant-based materials. Am I too nerdy or is it really the coolest thing ever?
The heels are made with reclaimed wood and hand-cut to the desired shape. Every detail is so well thaught-trough, it reflects on the finished product! Plus, every pair is made to order so no unsold items going to landfill from this company. And you can make sure that you buy something of good quality that wasn’t just glued together in a matter of seconds. It takes approximately 2 weeks to create a gorgeous pair of RAFAs, but it definitely worth the wait.
The shoes are carefully handmade by second- and third-generation shoemakers who really know how to create beautiful and functional footwear. The RAFA factory is in the outskirts of Los Angeles. RAFA is creating jobs locally in the US where the craftsmen are compensated with fair wages and work in ethical conditions. Which again shouldn’t be something I need to mention every time. This should be the norm, not the sweatshops.
But again, you can make a difference buy supporting RAFA! I bet you won’t regret buying these gorgeous, high-quality shoes that you can wear for the rest of your life. I love the 90s inspired designs, such as the Boogie sandal. The Flex sandal looks super comfortable, and you simply match it with a light dress for a summer date. But my favorite has to be the Ranger boot which looks like a modern version of my grandmother’s old boots she has been wearing when I was little.
The Coolest Sustainable Sunglasses: Wires
I’ve just discovered this brand last week when researching my latest post. Wires is an independent eyewear brand co-founded Yair Neuman, London-based designer, Lily Cole, actress, and Kwame Ferreira, socially conscious entrepreneur.
The revolutionary eyewear brand wants to change how we make and wear glasses. First of all, they want to make the production as sustainable as possible. By using traditional African wire art together with new technological advancements, they can minimize the material waste compared to conventional sunglasses. The minimalistic frame is one single metal wire and the rim is 3D-printed.
This modular method makes it possible to change your rim easily. So you don’t need to buy new glasses to have a new look. You can keep your glasses for life and update it with new rims as you like. The collection is unisex, so you can even share and mix and match your wires and rims with your boyfriend. Which is definitely couples goals. Perfect if you’re both into trendy and futuristic designs.
Wires rims come with Carl Zeiss lenses which have UVA and UVB protection. The lenses are also prescription ready, so another cool idea is to have a clear pair of lenses for everyday wear and a dark pair for sunglasses.
Of course, Wires glasses are ethically made. The first collection was hand-crafted in Zimbabwe. And the current, second collection, called Wires 2.0 that launched in the May of 2018 is made by a family business in the Italian Dolomites.
Wires is one of the amazing projects realized by Impossible, a group of people who want to create positive change in the world using technology. Impossible was co-founded by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and Lily Cole actress amongst others. They recently released a toolkit for Planet Centric Design that helps designers and entrepreneurs solve problems in a way that respects the environment.
Online Luxury Consignment Store: The RealReal
The RealReal is a gold mine! You can shop for high-end and designer brands on their site. They have a huge selection of clothing and accessories for less than half of the original retail price.
From the latest trends to vintage designer items, you can find everything on The RealReal. And these are cool, unique pieces, not the same shirts from Zara everyone is wearing.
Yes, the prices are a little higher than fast-fashion prices, and they also depend on what brands you’re looking for. But The RealReal makes designer fashion a lot more attainable. There are tons of cute clothes, bags, and shoes under $100 you can choose from. And you don’t even need to worry about the quality because The RealReal only excepts items in perfect condition.
And the other great thing about them is that you can also consign your designer clothing you don’t wear anymore. So if you buy something from them, and take good care of it, you can always resell it through their site to get back some money!
I love The RealReal because it helps to extend the lives of our clothes. Especially these designer clothes that are truly exceptional, unlike mass-produced fast fashion, deserve to be worn and loved. If you have a designer item that you don’t wear anymore, you have the opportunity to consign it and get back some money. And if you’d like to buy designer clothes, you have the opportunity to find awesome treasures for only a fraction of the original retail price. It is a true win-win-win-win situation for the reseller, the new buyer, the company, and the planet as well!
If you liked this post you can check out my favorite sustainable brands here for more ethical fashion recommendations!
Written by Csilla Herbszt, a sustainably stylish fashion blogger living her vegan life in Switzerland. You should follow her on Instagram!