It all started with the need to find the perfect, ethically sourced cross-body clutch. My only other clutch, an fantastic little Marc Jacobs number I purchased at a Second Time Around in Chelsea, was black and therefore only matched half my wardrobe. The clutch had to have a shoulder strap (for dancing), be made of real leather, and colored “light brown.” It also needed to by stylish and feature some element of good design.
The excuses I hear most often for avoiding the “made in” label fall into one of three categories: “I don’t care,” “Ethical products are unfashionable,” “Ethical products are too expensive.”
There are many reasons to care about how and where your products are made, but I’ll leave that for another post. For an easy recap, check out this great article from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “Selling Ethical Fashion to the Whole Foods Set.” The article mentions problem #2: ethical or fair trade fashion has been given a bad name by “crunchy” companies that prioritize “doing good” over “doing design”. The products are affordable, but (sadly) unappealing. High end designers swing too far in the opposite direction: prioritizing craftsmanship and design, only to drive prices into the quadruple digits in the process.
Here to save the day are 5 great pieces, ethically sourced an featuring excellent, modern designs that I discovered on my mission to find the perfect, ethically sourced clutch:
1. Top Pick: Natural Reflections “Wallet Purse.” $26.50
Lovely leather cross body clutch with detachable strap. Don’t let the pedestrian product name (Wallet Purse) or 90s style website throw you. This was the item I ultimately purchased. It is gorgeous and impeccably made. Buy it here.
2. Corrente: The “Joey” Convertible Crossbody. $108.00
This great piece, made right in New York City, had a bit more style and flair than the Natural Reflections cross body. I loved the chic design and classy styling, and the luxurious convertible chain strap, which can be worn long as a cross body or short like a traditional purse. I’m saving up for this one!! Buy it here.
3. Harvey’s the Original SeatBeltBag: Hipster Snow Leopard. $84.00
These funky bags are made with seat belts of various and sundry colors right here in the US. They are durable and sleek. The founders have an awesome start up story and great variety of bags for both men and women. I liked the Snow Leopard version, but this design came in a rainbow of other colors. Buy it Here.
4. Cinda B: Uptown Wristlet. $49.00
What a cute find, tucked away in a corner of the internet!! This “Made in the USA” answer to Vera Bradley mania is affordable and chic. I decided to avoid cloth because of how dirty (ew!) New York can be, but I want to save up for one of her larger luggage pieces. You can choose the material design and color combinations. Buy it here.
5. Soda Pop-Top Wristlet Bag. $54.95
This cute little number is a tad less traditional than the others. Made out of soda pop tops, the wristlets are pretty and stylish while also being super cool. I vetoed them on my initial search because they weren’t leather, but they’d make a nice addition to my collection at some point in the future. But it here.
What are some other great brands out there I might have missed? What are your challenges in finding nice products that are ethically sourced or made in the USA?