Matt and Nat: I doth protest

After spending weeks searching for the perfect environmentally-friendly travel bag before the holidays, I wanted to like Matt and Nat‘s line of vegan handbags so badly. I mean, if Alicia Silverstone (duh, Clueless!) is a fan, then surely there’s something good about this company. But alas….

For starters, when the travel bag I ordered showed up on my doorstop, I was deeply disappointed to learn that the bags are made in China. As a scholar of Chinese history and language, I certainly love myself the PRC. However, I do not trust their environmental practices, especially when it comes to creating vegan handbags. Let alone the environmental costs of shipping to the Matt and Nat headquarters in Montreal, then to my home in California. Blegh.

Next, the bag itself was so poorly designed that when I took it on a trip with me to the east coast, the buttons popped open each time I’d take a step with it slung over my shoulder. What is the point of a handbag that opens with each step? More than an inconvenience, this is also safety hazard for those of us who carry our lives in our bags.

Sure, I may look cool from the outside, but when you get to know me better, I'm a hot mess.

Do I even need to talk about the fact that it took nearly a month to receive the purchase and then, when I wanted to return it due to the above reasons, it took several emails and phone calls to receive a reply?

Needless to say, I will not be buying from Matt and Nat again, which is a disappointment as I have been looking for an environmentally-friendly handbag alternative. For now, I’ll stick with Clare Vivier and vintage finds. I’ve heard about the recycled leather wares made by Ashley Watson, but have never purchased any. There are also a plethora of smaller scale recycled leather vendors on Etsy and elsewhere online. I’ve got my eye on Agent Reclaimed’s Lucinda Bag in cognac. Pretty enough to drink. This luggage line from Heys USA is also made from recycled plastics, but I can’t find anywhere on their site that says where the bags are made, so be forewarned.

In the future, we’d all be smart to check out (and write) reviews on Sustain Lane, a People Powered Sustainability Guide. Power to the people!

*An update: Matt and Nat did refund me for the purchase of the handbag. As far as I know, they still haven’t localized their production chain. Bummer.

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About Kaitlin Solimine

Kaitlin Solimine was raised in New Hampshire but has considered China a second home for the past two decades. She is the author of the award-winning forthcoming novel Empire of Glass and co-founder of Hippo Reads, a media start-up connecting academic insights with real world issues. She lives in Singapore.
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