Vegan leather bags: FruitenVeg
As consumers’ awareness towards sustainability arises, more and more handbag brands care about the material they use for their handbag production. Next to leather tanned with different vegetables, so called vegan leather bags are on the rise.
I talked to Keren Peretz, designer of the FruitenVeg’s handbag collection.
Keren, I know you love leather. How did you come to design vegan leather bags?
As you know I come from a background in leather craftsmanship.
I studied the traditional making of leather handbags in a school in Florence, Italy and had an internship with a big family business for handbags in the area. I initially arrived in Italy because of my love to leather and wanting to dive deeper into traditional techniques.
During the time I spent there, I witnessed the industrial process of leather making and tanning and was exposed for the first time to trade fares and factories of the leather industry where I realized the amounts used.
The understanding that every piece of leather is an animal set deeper and deeper in my mind. Eventually, when I started realizing the foundations of the brand I wanted to establish it was inevitable for me to avoid the use of leather.
Making choices on a small scale (for instance getting material for a hand-made bag for myself) was one thing, but the responsibility that comes with the amounts of industrial manufacturing is another.
I guess the time I spent in Italy helped me understand the responsibility of material choices and I chose to avoid being responsible for so many animals suffering.
From that point on, I saw it as a challenge to try and make handbags that are more desirable and interesting than the familiar leather version and that’s what I try to do with FruitenVeg. To prove that high quality craftsmanship can exist using vegan materials and that it could even be an advantage design wise.
What’s the meaning of the brand name FruitenVeg?
The name reflects the vegan and vibrant aspects of the handbags; and to tell you the truth, the most basic colourful and luscious designs I’m familiar with are those of… fruits & vegetables. So in a way, it represents the design language of the brand.
How do you source suitable materials for FruitenVeg’s vegan leather bags and what materials are these bags made of?
The materialistic concept of the brand is faux exotic skins and fur since these resemble the luxury bags niche the most. The guidelines I follow within this niche is to use the most eco friendly options out there. The vegan leather world is classically divided into PU (polyurethane) based and PVC based materials. PVC is known to be hazardous and very harmful to the environment and thus I never use it, that’s a very strict guideline I follow. Regarding PU, there are different kinds and I try to always use the most environmentally friendly ones.
I like using microfiber leather too, since it’s a leather-like material that actually feels like leather from inside and out, and unlike the options mentioned above is assembled of tiny fibers put together and not as a fabric coated with a polymer material (as PU and PVC).
Microfiber can be highly priced as leather, and even more, but whenever I can I prefer to use it. It is more durable and more similar to leather. I’m always looking for new vegan materials to explore with the basic idea of resembling skins and fur. I’m now checking on possible use of mushroom based material resembling leather.
When I look at FruitenVeg’s handbag collection, I see radiating vegan leather bags such as clutches, bucket bags as well as backpacks – glamour and glory combined with ease. What inspires you to these creations?
My inspiration comes many times from the materials I source. It is highly challenging for me to find the balance between the various materials but in the end I found the harmony I was looking for.
A handbag, for me, is different from any other accessory or garment. I always felt that handbags, unlike garments and shoes, exist beside you and not over the body all day long. You develop interaction with this object which carries your belongings throughout the day.
So, in a way, a handbag is your home while you’re away from home. I like emphasizing this interactive aspect by adding playfulness to the design. Each style has it’s own little secrets to be discovered once used. I wanted to also give a good range of different types of uses as you mentioned, in order to explore what is actually needed from a bag during different life occasions.
In your collection you also have a laptop backpack? How did you come to this design?
This design came from a market research I’ve done in which I discovered there are not enough ‘feminine briefcase’ solutions. A bag that could carry your laptop and documents around, in a fun and stylish way. This bag was designed as an ‘office bag’, it has a front detachable purse you can carry around during lunch so the main laptop bag can stay at the office.
Despite being more and more online, consumers still want to experience new products. Especially for vegan leather bags it is always important to see how they match an outfit.
Are there any fairs or shops where you can explore and buy FruitenVeg’s handbags?
As you mentioned now more and more customers are used to buying online and I feel that handbags are the perfect item to get online since there are no size issues. We also offer free shipping and returns within the U.S. So it’s really no hassle for our U.S. Customers. And for the rest of the world we accept returns as well.
More information about FruitenVeg you find here.
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