March 23, 2011

The Handbag That Recycles For You. ~ Kaitland Hunter

Photos courtesy of Matt&Nat

They say you should be drinking eight bottles of water a day. Well, what if we raised that to twenty-one? Water weight notwithstanding, what would one do with the discards of that daily libation? Wear it of course! My new favorite company that helps you do that is Matt & Nat, who uses on average twenty-one recycled bottles to line each of their fabulous vegan bags.

I was fortunate enough to speak with Dina Khamara, head designer at Matt & Nat—the vegan handbag line that is slowly making a huge presence for itself in the fashion world. No longer a brand in obscurity, Matt & Nat are officially here to stay and after spying a few items from their new line that use an ikat print, I knew I might need to add a bohemian clutch to my collection.

I’ll be honest; it has taken me a while to understand why it’s important to support vegan fashion companies. But as more and more brands take on this initiative, the designs are beginning to look fantastic, and who can deny the positive effects on the environment? It was actually the shopping website Gilt that first introduced me to Matt & Nat. Last year I was looking for a unique bridal shower gift when I spotted a gorgeous white bag that was just the right price.

When I spoke with her last month, my girlfriend had nothing but amazing reviews about her bag. She informed me that it maintained its bright color, the material held up surprisingly well, and it looks expensive without using real leather. I myself own a white designer purse made with real leather and let’s just say its not exactly bright white anymore.

In my opinion, Matt & Nat’s designs are much more fashionable than other vegan lines, so my first question was whether or not ‘vegan’ was where they began the design process. I was surprised to find that it doesn’t factor into their inspiration at all! Dina told me their inspiration doesn’t differ much from other designers in that it originates from almost anything, but their main challenge is finding innovative materials that align to the vision for the brand and finding better alternatives for a kinder, more sustainable manufacturing environment.

So I understand the bags are vegan. So what? I want to know more and I want my bag to be a super bag! I asked Dina to elaborate on what else the brand does to be eco-chic. She responded:

We try to use eco-conscious materials as much as possible. The linings are made from recycled plastic bottles, 21 per bag on average. All our packaging, boxes, hangtags and dust pouches are 100% recycled. This year, we started using cork labels inside the bags. Cork extraction is an environmentally friendly process, which makes it a great sustainable resource to work with.

That’s all fine and dandy but I want my super bag to be the leader of the other super bags. Queen Super bag ruling over all the super stuff! Turns out we can have it all. When I posed the question of whether or not Matt & Nat gives back to the community, Dina responded:

Definitely. We’ve worked on different initiatives in the last few years, from donating to women’s shelters to volunteering at food missions. We’ve worked also with EarthSave, the WSPA and Canadian Women’s Foundation in the past, and currently with Charity: Water.

I love these bags so much that Dina could probably tell me anything, and I would just nod my head and tell her I’m their biggest fan. As someone who covets the entire line but earns an average salary, it means a lot to me that they keep their price range relatively reasonable, given that they need to ensure a certain standard and quality. Not to mention the fact that their bags are constantly being featured in amazing sales on sites like Gilt, Shopbop, and Bluefly, to name a few.

The fact of the matter is the more we as consumers support brands who are eco-conscious the easier it will be for these brands to find vegan materials to work with. Since there is a much greater concern from the public to protect the environment than ever before, manufacturers are forced to adjust. This only makes it easier for companies like Matt & Nat to find eco-friendly, organic, or leather alternative materials. And with the designs Matt & Nat are coming out with you’d never be able to tell that part of your bag is made out of plastic bottles. It makes the whole idea of recycling a lot more appealing.

So, who’s the kind of girl that would wear Matt & Nat? Dina says, “She’s comfortable in her skin, authentic, original, and can be a little quirky.”

Well now, having bought a bag or two, we quite agree!

For more information on Matt & Nat please visit their website. Find their bags here in Boulder at Blue Skies.


Kaitland Hunter lives and works in Chicago and wouldn’t have it any other way. She can’t help but shop every minute of her free time and loves to bring you her finds. You can contact her at [email protected].  Follow her on twitter @thehunterstyle and visit her blog at The Hunter Style.

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