The ART of buying LESS.
Minimalism is not just a design aesthetic…
Starting a brand which focuses on minimalism and simple design changed my life from just admiring the simple details of products to trying to commit to a lifestyle where owning less means more.
I am far from living the perfect minimalist lifestyle, as I still enjoy spoiling myself with unnecessary products, but it is something I aim to commit to in 2019.
I started my handbag label with the idea that you only really need one handbag. One functional, practical eight-to-late handbag which suits every occasion and outfit. By merely being a designer, I cannot change mass tanning processes and manufacturing outputs to create the perfect sustainable product, but I can aim to make a small contribution to the slow fashion industry by introducing the art of buying less.
It seems that simple, right?
It’s not. Living in a world dominated by fast fashion, it really takes restraint and commitment not to fall for those amazing marketing campaigns and Pinterest boards advertising the latest trendy handbags, and not to mention the irresistible price! I mean, not everyone can afford a designer leather handbag, but spending $ 25 on a pleather handbag every three to four months seems reasonable? A part of the bag easily breaks or the trend is so last year, and the bag goes straight to the back of the closet. Then we ban plastic straws and post on Instagram of how “Eco-friendly” and “sustainable” we are.
Buying quality over quantity is truly an investment to your wardrobe. A good quality leather handbag will last you years with the correct care and attention. We live in a time where it became so easy and cheap to just replace an entire product, rather than spending time repairing it or taking proper care of it in the first place. (Refraining from making relationship references).
One element of the art of buying less would be to scout for timeless designs. Obviously your tote bag is one of the most classic shapes where it is both practical and will never go out of style. When I buy a handbag the only thing I truly focus on is comfort. If something is uncomfortable for me, there is no way I will wear it more than once. Finding a bag which is comfortable means you’re already in it for the long haul.
Another element is all about choosing the correct color. Black on black on black for me please – and no I am not an emotionally abused person, I just truly admire the timelessness and sophistication of the color black. It suits just about any occasion and almost any outfit. Ever heard of black being out of style? ‘Nuff said. Neutrals are most feasible when it comes to timeless designs and versatility of the product.
Then there is the everlasting debate of genuine vs. faux leather…
Coming from Namibia, one of the greatest exporters of good quality meat, it is truly difficult for me to compare genuine leather with faux leather. Very few people really look in to the fact that bovine leather is just a by-product of the meat industry. Surely, vegans and vegetarians truly commit to the lifestyle, and I admire their dedication and commitment, but the largest majority of the population will continue to add meat to their staple diet. The meat industry is not about to die soon, therefore by using the skins as this by-product you are actually recycling the material.
Producing genuine leather also has it down-sides in terms of chemical waste and water pollution when making use of chromium tanning methods, not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions in the form of cow generate methane. Most tanneries supplying the majority manufacturers are well regulated and we can rest assured that these tanneries are equipped with chromium recovery facilities, making sure that they reduce their waste to the absolute minimum.
So, when asked what is great about “vegan” leather, PETA answered: “Only EVERYTHING!” And obviously highlighted the part where no dead animals were involved, but neglected to mention the impact it has on the environment producing this material.
There are two different types of faux / vegan leathers. One is made up of Polyurethane, creating the sparkly, glossy surface saturated in all kinds of shades. According to the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe, producing a pound of polyurethane foam emits 3.7 pounds of carbon dioxide – making the process slightly less green than burning a gallon of gas. How’s that saving the environment?
The other type of faux leather is composed of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which according to Greenpeace is “the most damaging plastic on the planet.” Now, there are thousands, if not millions, of articles which elaborates on the pro’s and con’s of PVC and Polyurethane and how industries producing these chemicals are constantly making improvements on the effects production has on the environment. Therefore it’s not as easy as right or wrong, black or white, but it’s necessary to be informed when making the buying decision before purchasing any product because of an attractive price point. For me it’s no brainer to go for genuine leather, as it lasts much longer and has less direct effects on the environment.
The art of buying less all lies within making informed decisions. Knowing the impact of the environment, knowing the impact of the lives of people manufacturing the product and also the life-span of the product can be the turning point to living a more sustainable and minimalist lifestyle.
Last but not least, taking proper care of your leather products will ensure a longer lifespan. Here are some short tips to take care of your leather handbags:
- Be conscious of how you treat your bag every day. Avoid overloading it and placing it on dirty surfaces.
- Avoid leaving your leather bag in direct sunlight.
- Be cautious when using hand creams and other oils, this can discolor the leather.
- Do not use baby wipes or vinegar to clean stains, rather just wipe it gently with a damp cloth.
- Treat stains right away. If it is serious, rather take it to a professional.
- Use leather treatments every now and then to keep the leather in a good condition. Make sure you have the correct treatment by doing a spot test on the inside or the bottom of the bag to ensure that the leather does not discolor.
- If you are not using your bag, make sure it is stored in it’s dust bag with filling to keep it’s original shape.
Let’s start this conscious approach to fashion by buying less, buying smart and taking care of our products. Madeleine Hill truly inspired me with her article “How to buy less, Choose well and make it last” on her website here. You can download the Good on You app where you can check a brand’s impact on people, the environment and animals in just seconds.
By buying less and purposefully you can already start by making a difference and leading a more sustainable lifestyle.