Not so much a seasonal trend as a perennial look, favoured by those who always manage to look chic even when they’re putting out the bins (that’s definitely not me); minimalism never goes away but it does seem to be at a peak at the moment, with several vegan fashion brands really specialising in this style. It can – and should – look effortless, but it takes effort not to throw in more colours or embellishments, and stick with the simplest of designs. Needless to say, quality of material, colour and product design is vital with this look, as there’s nothing else to distract you, which is why all the products selected below tend to be from the more premium vegan brands. The good thing is that – as this a look that never dates – it’s worth investing in these vegan bags and shoes, as they’ll be serving you for many years to come.
Morning Crossbody in Bordeaux by Angela Roi (feature image)
‘Jubilant, sunny and bright mornings’ are named as the inspiration for this style, which is so popular it comes back season after season, with new colours added each time. If you favour a brighter hue, take a look at the Mustard and Dusty Rose shades – they’re delicious! Angela Roi is a vegan luxury brand, founded in 2013 and based in New York (they currently don’t ship outside of the US but are available through resellers such as Naturismo). They have a fashion-forward minimalist aesthetic, combined with high quality materials and details; they use EPUL (Exquisite Polyurethane Leather) for their vegan bags, which is processed multiple times in order to attain the softness and smooth texture; high-quality fabrics for their linings; and gold-plated hardware, including high-quality zipper closures and magnetic snap-button closures. Minimalism is all about the details after all.
Water Block Heels in Black by Patricia Correia
This Portuguese vegan brand is one of my favourites as they tick every shoe-style box for me – simple ballet flats, classic ankle boots, high heeled courts in pointed and almond toe – check! This Water block-heel low court shoe may be the best of all, as it has a little heel for smartness (but is low enough to be comfortable), and I love the very classic chic style – you can imagine Audrey Hepburn in these shoes can’t you? It’s made from vegan faux leather with an antibacterial lining and comes in eight colours. Of course, I would choose black – but the more colourful amongst you won’t be disappointed.
Bucket Bag in Tan by JW Pei
I think every wardrobe needs a bucket bag, but this is a style that can look fussy if not kept pared down to the bare essentials – which this minimalist JW Pei style is (Matt & Nat also do a very similar style if you’re interested in some different colours). JW Pei specialise in their use of Patina fabric for their vegan bags – a trademarked luxury material made from high-grade polyurethane resin and ultra-fine microfiber bundles, that mimics the microscopic structure of leather. The Patina strand is smaller than the diameter of a strand of silk (which is approximately one denier), which is itself about 1/15th to 1/100th the diameter of a human hair. The technology isn’t new – it’s been used for decades but mainly on high-end sofas and luxury car seats – but JW Pei are now bringing it to vegan bags, as it’s soft, beautiful and durable. The brand is also committed to making all the plastics they use come from recycled sources. The lining of this bag is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and whilst over 50% of all their plastics are recycled now, the aim is to make this 100% in two years.
Bee Crossbody Bag in Ruby from the Dwell Collection by Matt & Nat
The Matt & Nat motto ‘Live Beautifully’ perfectly embodies this little crossbody bag, which comes with a removable and adjustable strap, and a well organised interior, with 12 card slots, 4 note compartments, and a zipper coin pocket. It’s available in six colours, and I think this Ruby shade shows that you can wear a bright colour and still be minimalist!
Matt & Nat are one of the most established vegan brands (they started in 1995), with dedicated stores in their native Canada, and resellers all over the world. From the start they were committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials, but their messaging is now more explicitly calling out that they’re a vegan brand. They’re also committed to being sustainable and eco-friendly, experimenting with different recycled materials such as nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork; and since 2007, all their linings have been made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. They’ve even recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to their collection!
Carlina Ballerina in Navy by Blanlac
Carlina is a super elegant low-heeled court with an almond toe and a 5cm block heel, in suede vegan leather – I think this would look gorgeous worn with cigarette pants or a classic shift dress. Blanlac is a new PETA-approved vegan brand, espousing the view that ‘our society is sufficiently endowed with sustainable natural resources to free itself from animal exploitation’. They specialise in elegant, classic styles (they also have two different high-heeled court shoes), with all their shoes produced in Italy and made from innovative Italian eco-friendly fabrics. They’re currently available on pre-order, requiring up to two months manufacturing and delivery time – but I think they’re worth waiting for.
Jane Shoulder Bag in Ash Brown by Angela Roi
This is the second entry for Angela Roi in this list – but they do specialise in structured, minimalist vegan bags, so that’s not a surprise. This design is a new style that was selected by Angela’s Roi’s customers (from four rough sketches) and is inspired by and named after Jane Goodall, who researched chimpanzees in Africa and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. As such, it represents exploration, challenges, and nature. This luxurious pebble-textured bag is super simple and sleek on the outside – but has some detailing on the inside, including a vegan suede lining, a zipped compartment and a mobile-phone compartment. It’s also roomy enough for a 15” laptop. Carefully crafted by their skilled craftsmen in Korea, they say it takes months of effort, planning and design to get all the details just right. The vegan material is intended to replace real calf-skin leather and is super soft, so does need to be treated with the same care as real leather.
Classic Crossbody in Blush by Samara
Samara are a relatively new brand on the block, with a small capsule collection of vegan bags and clutches, made from premium micro-fibre vegan leather. This is their signature Classic style, and it’s also available in tan and black. The brand was born out of a desire to create small, minimalist purses and wallets without overt branding, that are truly eco-friendly, animal-friendly, and without luxury mark-ups but with the same quality as higher-end brands. The microfibre they use was found after months of hunting for the perfect material; and they work with a small factory (their orders are the biggest ones they’ve had) which they selected because of their commitment to using the best materials, treating their workers well and creating products of the finest quality with a great eye for detail. They have a great giving-back programme, collaborating with The Soular Backpack, a company that provides children who don’t have access to electricity with solar powered backpacks, so they can do their homework every night without having to use a kerosene lamp (which is carcinogenic and environmentally dangerous). Every purchase through Samara covers the cost of a Soular Backpack for a child in need in East Africa, so that they have access to light every night.
L’Oxygene Nail Polish in Black Berry by Nailberry
This deep black nail polish comes from the multi award-winning L’Oxygene range from British brand Nailberry, a breathable and oxygenated formulation that uses patented technology to deliver a healthier manicure. I’ve talked about the Nailberry brand in Five Best Red Vegan Nail Polishes – their Rouge red colour is amazing – and I have several of their nail polishes, as I love the consistency and the colour range. Also their bottles are extremely pretty!
Five Best Vegan Red Nail Polishes
Seven Best Vegan Boots