I am not great at browsing. Shopping for myself is a somewhat excruciating experience–shopping for others is a completely different story–so I usually approach it with a hit-and-run mentality. I walk into a store with blinders on, armed with lists, coupons, and limited funds. The quicker it’s over, the better. And finding exactly what I meant to purchase is especially satisfying when it’s the endpoint of such a determined quest. So it’s a rare occasion that I find myself wandering into a store without a specific need. The biggest exception to this rule of late, though, was the unseasonably cold, rainy, and overall dreary Sunday I stumbled into a cute boutique in my neighborhood, Magpie, mostly to get warm en route from another store back to my apartment. I was lured in by a window display of dainty stationary and artisanal jewelry.
Little did I know that Magpie is a haven of eco-friendly products, including the brand I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. Nestled in the back corner of the store was a stand of purses and tote bags that were exactly the style I’d been designing in my head–an ideal mix of functionality and aesthetics–but hadn’t been able to find. Let me introduce you to this unicorn of non-leather goods, and no doubt the source of your next, perfect bag of a lifetime: a Canada-based vegan brand called Matt & Nat. Their tag line, “Live Beautifully,” pretty much sums up the company’s ethos of tapping into our inner resources for inspiration and ways to improve ourselves (a very Peaceful Dumpling-esque attitude).
Founded in 1995 in Montreal, Matt & Nat gets its name from the intersection of “material and nature.” As such, it is committed to using non-animal materials in all its products and environmentally sustainable practices. They began by designing with recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber, and cork, and for the past seven years all their linings have been made from 100% recycled plastic bottles (about 21 bottles go into each bag). The newest textile comes from recycled bicycle tires. Rigorous testing and timeless designs ensure that their bags will last for a long time and hence lessen the need for replacing them (though that doesn’t mean you can’t buy more than one . . .). Magpie only had a few styles for sale, but as soon as I got home from that serendipitous shopping trip I went online to discover a whole range of bags, wallets, and accessories for women and men. Even the bags’ names felt purposeful and inspired: Dreamed, Orwell, EPEA, Heroes. I’ve already tagged the Malone as my next self-gift.
Some other great looks from their spring collection:
Matt & Nat ships to Canada, the US, UK, Japan, Germany, and Australia. And right now (from April 15, 2014 through May 15, 2014), $1 from every bag sold will be donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. If browsing can lead to these kind of discoveries, I think I’ll have to change my shopping habits . . .
Also by Jennifer: Pro Vegan Baking Tips from Blossom, NYC
5 Tips to Keeping Your Feet Healthy and Spring-ready
Related: 7 Vegan Shoes We Love for Spring
Photos: magpienewyork.com; mattandnat.com