It’s in the Bag

By Robin Krafft


What features do you look for when choosing a designer bag?

Classic style, artistic details, roomy compartment, or is it more about the way you wear your bag: across the body, over the arm, or as a handbag? Perhaps there are other factors in your decision-making process.

As consumers, we are beginning to understand how our choices make an impact. There is incredible power in how and what we choose to spend our money on. Eve Cork’s mission is to support your belief that style can include a positive, ethical impact. Not only are we providing other people with a means to make a living, but our choices say a lot about our values. We know that the production of everything we see has a cost, that there are raw materials involved. What are those materials, and who does the making?

Some people are asking the question: can living things really be deemed raw materials? Is that what I believe? Ideally, we want a product that aligns closely with our own values.

Jennifer Vandervelde is the name behind Eve Cork premium vegan handbags. Her journey was gradual; she had always loved animals and recalls that in her teens, she just didn’t feel right about eating meat. She began to make changes. By the time she was in university, she was vegetarian. Her awareness grew. She chose to educate herself further, learning more about the animals that we traditionally raise for food.

Photography Jennifer Klementti

She began to search for leather alternatives, so that she could feel good about what she was wearing on her body, and carrying, as well as what went into it; this proved to be quite difficult. She recalls travelling abroad in those early years of awareness and getting excited about merely spotting some advertisements for a vegan shoe company – a rare treasure.

Things have changed, and there are growing numbers of people who are interested in a plant-based diet and lifestyle, but finding good products is still challenging. Leather alternatives are often lacking in quality; the texture, processing, chemical component, and even the scent are factors. Additionally, consumers who are interested in supporting compassionate companies are also concerned about fair and ecological practices in production.

Jennifer was thrilled to discover the Eve Cork line of designs. She fell in love with the material immediately. The cork fabric is supple, lightweight, smooth, durable, waterproof, and easy to clean. The lining is organic, vegetable-dyed cotton, and the Italian-sourced hardware accessorizing each bag adds a little panache. Investing in a single bag wasn’t enough; Jennifer was eager to take on the company, making only the slightest adjustment to the logo, while keeping the excellence of the product intact.

Photography Laura Joy


These bags check all the boxes: no animal products or harsh dyes or chemicals are used, the materials are sustainable and ecologically harvested, and the beautiful hand-crafted designs are fairly traded. Eve Cork is cruelty-free from start to finish, and PETA approved, but Jennifer wanted to see for herself what was involved in the production of these gorgeous bags.

Everything Eve Cork carries is imported from Portugal, where the process from harvest to artisan takes place, and where Jennifer met with her supplier. She wanted to make sure that she was taking on a truly sustainable and fair product that she would be proud to represent, and that would fill a growing need: informed, aware consumers who want high-end options.

What she discovered is the incredible cork oak tree. While there isn’t actually a shortage of cork, it must be harvested responsibly. Eve Cork bags begin here, where the bark of the cork oak is carefully cut by hand and laid out to dry. The outer layers are utilized in other products, but the softer, inner bark is the real magic of these bags. Once cut, the trees are carefully marked with the year of harvest. Sustainable practices dictate that this tree cannot be cut again for another 9 to 10 years.

Meanwhile, harvesting the bark is actually good for the tree! The cork oak grows stronger and lives longer as result of this careful, knowledgeable process, allowing them to continue to grow for as long as 250 years. In addition to this assurance, there is an added benefit: the trees will actually filter more carbon dioxide from the air once the bark has been harvested, in order to regenerate.

This is the picture that like-minded consumers need to see in order to feel good about toting around a fabulous, hand-crafted designer bag: unique, ethical, and sustainably sourced. The quality and integrity of the brand is powerful, and it speaks to the passion of a woman who is much more than an animal lover, she is her ideal customer: buying with an ecological conscience and supporting cruelty-free practices and products. She urges us all to “think about what you’re buying and where it’s coming from. Even small changes can have an impact.” It’s sound advice, and we are hearing it more and more. When choosing a designer handbag, what features are you looking for now?

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