As awful and negative as climate change is, sometimes you have to take a step back and appreciate how this complex, pressing issue has led to so much creativity across the design industry. From infrastructure like solar panel sidewalks (yes, those are in the works), to plastic bottles made soccer balls, it’s not revelatory that sometimes it takes a bad, urgent situation to get people working to their utmost potential.
While we’re in Bali, we want to share as many of these “problem solving” brands with you guys as possible. The ethical fashion industry is loaded with companies with incredible backstories that are working to do good and diminish their impact on the planet, but even within this niche, methods become normalized (even amazing, earth-saving methods like using recycled polyester instead of cotton).
We like to share companies that are really pushing the industry overall by developing their own problem-solving approaches to fashion design, and by inventing & executing solutions that could someday be widespread.
That, in a nutshell, is why we jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable handbag brand von Holzhausen. We’ve come across a lot of sustainable and vegan handbag brands throughout the past couple of years, usually ones that have animal-alternative leathers, or aren’t treated with any chemicals. I’ve also been weaning leather out of my life for the past year or so. If I’m being completely, honest, though nothing I’ve come across has wowed me (usually, the opposite). Because, even though I don’t want the bag or boots I’m wearing to be made of real leather I want them to feel like they are, and, even though some companies get pretty close, this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades. I feel like I say this a lot, but sustainable fashion needs to not just compete but outdo the non-sustainable alternative if it’s going to make a lasting impact, and part of the reason I’m so in love with von Holzhausen is because they get that reality and design in response to it. Also, let’s be real, it’s just fun to say von Holzhausen.
In New Girl, there’s a game called “feely cup” (creepy name, I know) where you’re blindfolded and have to feel an object in a cup and define what it’s made of in ten seconds. If von Holzhausen’s bags could fit in cup, I guarantee every one of you would lose at feely cup. Here’s why: it feels exactly like real leather. No wait, it actually feels nicer than leather. If I’m going to be leather-specific, it feels like lamb skin (known for being one of the highest-end, most supple leathers out there, but also one that, you know, requires you to wear a baby sheep).
So what magical material is von Holzhausen using? Glad you asked. von Holzhausen uses a non-animal leather they’ve coined “technik-leather” that was actually initially designed for the use in luxury cars. This leather is vegan, odorless, doesn’t crack or have inconsistencies the way natural leather would, is lighter weight than real leather, has absolutely no toxic byproducts and is able to recycle 99% of its manufacturing byproducts. Also, it doesn’t require natural materials, putting no additional stresses on the planet.
What really makes these bags so great, though, is that they deliver not only in the quality of their materials but in the quality of their design. These bags look good. They’re minimalist, functional, have invisible snap and don’t look “green” or “crunchy” in absolutely any way. I’m of the belief that even a person who doesn’t care even a little bit about the planet, would want to carry something from von Holzhausen after feeling the material and seeing the design. And that’s the sweet spot: if you can get people to choose a sustainable alternative not just because it’s sustainable, but because it’s simply better, you can start to chip away at a damaging industry. That’s what von Holzhausen is up to, and that’s why we’re rooting for them.
*Thank you to von Holzhausen for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.