Review: Angela Roi Luxury Vegan Handbags

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This ivory cross-body bag has a story. We first spotted it in Reformation in New York, where we fell in love with it. We umm-ed and ahh-ed though, as we weren’t sure about the particular colour stocked there.

We decided to go away and think about it, and to return to the store later that week to see if we still loved it.

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We sadly never had the chance to go back for it though, because we got caught in Snowmeggadon (NYC's biggest snowstorm in 100 years, which shut down the city) for the rest of our trip.

But once we were back in Australia we couldn’t stop thinking about that beautiful little bag. We did a bit more research into the ethics of the Angela Roi brand, and were happy to discover that not only was it a vegan brand, but that a donation was given to animal charities with every purchase. While the bags are designed in the US, they are made in South Korea, in factories that are checked several times a year for fair working conditions.

So after much deliberation, we decided to order it online, and have found it to be a fabulous little travel bag. It's quite roomy for a crossover, and has secure closings (with an internal zipper pocket, another zipper to secure the interior, a flap which folds over that, and a handy little zippered pocket on the back. 

It's nice to carry a bag that is made by a vegan brand, because every time we get complimented on it, we can chat about how much kinder vegan bags are than leather bags. 

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What is a vegan handbag?

There may be a lot of non-leather handbags on the market, but many of these are not actually vegan. Many glues are made with animal by-products, so just because a bag is labelled "non-leather" it doesn't mean it wasn't made with thread dipped in animal glue, or that parts of the lining haven't been attached with animal-derived glue. This can be a trap to fall into when purchasing "non-leather" bags from general handbag companies - and was indeed a mistake we both made when first becoming vegan, before we researched the production processes of bags (and shoes too!).

Angela Roi is a vegan brand, only producing products which are actually free from all animal products. 

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PVC versus PolyUrethane hand bags.

Angela Roi bags are made from PU. But why is that important?

Many non-leather bags (even the expensive big name label brands) are made from PVC, which is a material we avoid wherever possible. Throughout its production cycle, Poly Vinyl Chloride requires a toxic combination of vinyl chloride, dioxins, cadmium, lead and phthalates to create the shiny, pliable material we know as PVC, or which is sometimes referred to as "fake leather", "pleather" or unfortunately "vegan leather". It isn't any of those things - it is what it is, and should be called PVC. But PVC's bad qualities don't end at the factory gate, because during its use those unwanted chemicals are off-gassing, and if worn next to the skin, are rubbing against our largest single organ: the skin. Finally, when its past its use by date, it's either sent to landfill, where it will basically never break down, but off-gases dioxin into the water tables, or is incinerated, releasing quite dangerous compounds into the smoke. So at every stage, from factory workers to wearers, to garbage workers, PVC is a material that is causing harm. 

There are a number of alternative vegan materials to PVC in the marketplace, and this is an area that is exploding in potential as consumers want products with a lower health and environmental footprint. We are particularly excited about the development of biologically based materials which can match, and often surpass, leather in durability and aesthetics. But while this is a developing field, one of the materials which is a much better alternative than PVC is PolyUrethane, or PU. It has a softer handfeel, just like leather, but unlike leather, is vegan. It's a much more inert material than PVC, and is produced in a much more environmentally friendly manner. The material can be recycled too, unlike PVC. It's quite light in weight, which is great for producing bags as the product itself can then be surprisingly light.  

Angela Roi bags are made from a particularly impressive PU, because they have a fabulous pliability and matte finish, which gives them an elegant appearance. To give the material such a soft hand finish, it is rolled multiple times before it is cut into bags. 


Quality stitching and materials.

The founders - Angela & Roi - started the business out of a desire to make beautifully chic handbags, which don’t conflict with their love for animals.

The shape and quality of our little Morning bag is indeed beautifully chic. It's a classic shape, and we particularly love this ivory colourway as it makes it trans-seasonal. The stitching of this Angela Roi bag is quite detailed - which helps give the overall feel of a premium, well-crafted handbag.

In fact, we were so taken with the cross-body bag that we later went and bought a tote from Angela Roi too, to replace a worn out, animal-leather workbag of old. (Read the review of the Angela Roi Moa Tote here.)

We really do love this chic little cross-body bag, but one thing we should note is that we are also big fans of vegan materials which are inherently even more environmentally friendly than PU (such as cork-leatherorganic cotton, tencil, hemp, Piñatex and even recycled bottles).

We'd be really excited to see a quality manufacturer like Angela Roi exploring some of these materials too.

Keeping Things Transparent:
We purchased this bag ourselves and we weren't paid to write this review. Our Angela Roi tote was purchased from Modavanti (a U.S. based online ethical fashion store who donate 2% of sales to charity) as they ship internationally.

The link in this article, to Angela Roi's site, is an affiliate link though, which means we receive a small commission if you decide you want one of these bags in your life too. (Bloggers have bills too!)
Using this link won't cost you anymore, and we'll never recommend a brand to you that we don't love ourselves. As always, we are keen to support small businesses with ethics & great products, who are providing fabulous vegan options. 

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