As lovers of beautiful, quality style, handbags have posed somewhat of a question mark for us.
Conventional leather, the material of choice for luxury accessories, usually involves a highly toxic process and its heritage is difficult to trace. Sadly this can include quality brands who proudly display that their bags are 'Made in Italy'.
That said, many vegan leather alternatives currently available are essentially plastic, which also does not sit well with our love of natural materials. In our experience, they also don't have the type of longevity of leather, meaning they quickly look worn and frail around the edges - not a good look and very frustrating.
We are so pleased then to welcome the beautiful Ms. Bay range to Sheer Apparel. They are beautifully designed and expertly crafted handbags and accessories from Salmon Leather (with vegetable tanned leather in some designs).
Why Salmon Leather?
Salmon skins are a waste product from the fishing industry. Today, only 1% of all fish skins are recycled. Fish leather is a rescued material that has qualities similar to those of regular leather but can be processed in a more environmental-friendly way. Its strength makes for durable products. Together with a timeless design, fish leather is the ultimate future-proof material. And in case you were wondering, it is odour free.
Who is behind the brand?
Ms. Bay was founded by Saskia Aelen and Lawrence Dedroog, after they learnt more about the contemporary fashion industry when working for a large mass-production company. They grew more wary about the issues of sustainability facing our generation. They say:
"Fast fashion, mass production, social injustice, environmental issues. The speed at which the fashion industry is turning has stripped its products of its value. Cheap clothes and accessories are at the cost of the environment and the manufacturing workers.
Slow fashion is a movement that represents the eco, the ethical, the sustainable fashion which commits to slowing down the rate of fashion consumption. It’s a matter of quality over quantity.
In response to this, we created a slow luxury accessories brand. At Ms. bay, we believe sustainable and fairtrade products can look luxurious and sophisticated. Our collection of handbags and small leather goods are simple yet elegant, fashionable but timeless.”
Where does Ms. Bay produce and why?
Most leather products are made in cheap labour countries like Bangladesh, China and India. Poor working conditions, serious health risks and low pay are only a few of the problems the industry are facing.
We believe in the economic importance of labour-opportunities in these third world countries. Trade can offer local communities the possibility to improve their living conditions. But only if this is based on ethical and social values that are in accordance with basic human rights and needs.
Ms. Bay produces in Kolkata, India. The brand only collaborates with factories that are in line with its vision and values. All of the factories it works with, are SA8000 standard certified. This means that they qualify for fair trade standards regarding child labour, health and safety, discrimination and remuneration.
The skilful craftsmen aren’t anonymous hands sewing away at Ms. Bay's designs. They are its colleagues, partners, allies.
Explore Ms. Bay's line of bags and accessories here.