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Sustainable Leather Bags

What does it mean for a bag to be sustainable and ethical?

What and how we buy is an important statement about our values. More people than ever are becoming conscientious about the social and environmental impact of the fashion brands they choose to shop.

While we are thrilled that sustainable fashion is growing in popularity, we recognize this can make it difficult to wade through marketing hype and advertising to determine whether an accessory is actually ethically made — terms like “eco-friendly handbag” and “eco-friendly purses” — even “vegan leather” are often thrown around without much thought to the true impact of the product.

Here at Parker Clay, we make our stand not just on what our bags are made of, but on how they are produced – every one of our products is made to the highest ethical standards start to finish, from sustainable material sourcing to manufacturing to shipping. While it’s great if a bag looks amazing on Instagram, we believe there are bigger issues at hand, and purchasing a truly sustainable bag has the power to create far-reaching ripple effects on the world.

Tote Bags & Shoulder Bags

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Crossbody Bags

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Bucket Bags

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What Goes Into Our Sustainable Handbags

We believe that Parker Clay bags are the most ethical handbags made. We stand behind that statement – here’s why.

Local Ethical Leather Sourcing: We work with farmers and the agricultural market to source our leather from the community around Addis Ababa. This puts money back into the hands of local farmers and businesses and creates sustainable economic development for the region

Sustainable Jobs and Benefits: We employ local women as our artisans and work with our sister non-profit Ellilta to provide high-paying, professional-level jobs to our employees. We employ women, many of whom have been vulnerable to human trafficking, to use traditional Ethiopian skills to handcraft our products. We provide all employees with education, full health care, and transport benefits, coffee breaks, and a wide range of other support. From fair wages to our working conditions and operations, every aspect of our production and tannery facilities in Addis Ababa have been constructed to fulfill principles of fair use and dignified work environments. We pay competitive, living wages for the region so that our artisans and other employees can support their families.

Hand-Crafted Ethiopian Artistry: Our products are hand-made by exceptionally skilled artisans, not by machine. This makes every Parker Clay product a hand-crafted treasure. Each of our bags represents the skills of a gifted crafter whose hard work is a statement of human artistry and dignity, a statement that people can lift themselves out of poverty, and proof that sustainable handbags are not only practical from a business standpoint but necessary for a better world.

Rich Cultural Heritage: Our leather bags are created with a blend of rich Ethiopian traditional handcrafts and sensible, handsome modern design. This not only works to preserve traditional Ethiopian craft skills and artistry but also creates bags and other products that look and feel amazing. Your Parker Clay bag will only look better as it ages, and will last you for years to come.

Lifelong Quality: Our high-quality leather goods are designed for long-term durability. We want your Parker Clay bag to be passed down in your family, not end up in the landfill after a few years. Fashion should not be disposable but treasured.

Sustainable Practices Start to Finish: We use sustainable practices from top to bottom in our manufacturing and supply chain when creating our ethical leather bags. Our processes leave as little environmental impact as possible. We also work with local communities for our sourcing of materials, so as not to disrupt the environment or community lifestyles.

Plastic Free Packaging: The sustainable production process doesn’t end until your bag is in your hands. Our commitment to bettering the planet extends all the way from our sustainable leather to the way we package and ship your purchase 100% plastic-free. When you order a leather bag from Parker Clay, we’ll deliver it right to your door carefully stored in a reusable organic cotton storage bag and packaged in a recyclable paper box.

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Our Impact

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A Few of Our All-Time Favorite Bags

Merkato Signature Tote

Our Merkato Signature Tote, often called by our fans “their favorite bag of all time.” This is due to the soft but durable leather construction, dimensions that can fit a 15” laptop, and an interior D-ring for a key hook.

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Miramar Leather Backpack

The Miramar Leather Backpack is another of our best sellers. The adjustable straps on this stylish and versatile backpack purse make it ideal for a day at work or for hiking. The Miramar works as both a backpack and a tote. Interior and exterior zipper pockets enhance versatility.

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Atlas Backpack

Our classic Atlas Backpack was inspired by our personal travel experiences across the world. Designed for work, weekend travels, or long-range treks, the Atlas includes a foam padded separate laptop compartment, separate pockets for a passport and electronics cables, and several other must-have features. Premium full grained Ethiopian leather means that this backpack can take a beating and keep going strong—it’s the ultimate fusion of fashion and functionality for men and women.

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Nyala Foldover Clutch

or your nightlife, we have the elegant Nyala Foldover Clutch. Its sleek design and striking upcycled artillery handle rings make this a unique accessory with whatever you’re wearing, night or day. The compartment’s foldover design comfortably fits everything you need for your urban adventures.

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Desta Belt Bag

Belt bags have made a roaring comeback in the last few years, and for good reason! From the Ethiopian for joy—desta—our popular Desta Belt Bag offers the best in hands-free fashion. Wear it around your waist throughout the day or transition into a night out with the removable crossbody strap.

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Travel Bags

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The Best Sustainable Material

When searching for sustainable and eco-friendly materials, many shoppers assume that leather products made from so-called “vegan leather” or “eco leather” are the best. However, that’s not typically the case.

While there are some plant-based leathers, vegan leather is typically made from two different plastic polymers: polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and treated with other harmful chemicals. Unlike traditional leather made from cowhide and other animal skin, plastic-based vegan bags take years to break down. As these “faux leathers” break down in landfills, these toxins are released back into the environment.

While “vegan leather” and “pleather” may seem like sustainable alternatives to real leather, these terms are often just terms thrown around by the fashion industry to mask the fact that these textiles are cheaply made from plastics.

Sustainable leather, on the other hand, is leather that is a byproduct of local farming and agriculture industries. It is considered sustainable because the animals are not raised for the express purpose of using their leather for goods — they are first and foremost farm animals.

Thanks to our ethically sourced leather from food animals, and a natural tanning process that uses recycled water, our sourcing has a negligible environmental impact on local agriculture and processes. And because our products are hand-made, our tanning and industrial processes are likewise low impact and sustainable.

Messenger Bags

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Satchels / Backpacks

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The Parker Clay promise to you and the world

Our commitment to sustainable handbags and the highest levels of fair-trade standards are one of our many demonstrations that ethical fashion is not only profitable, but fashionable and a great personal investment. Invest in both yourself and the world by making one of our products your own. The Parker Clay commitment to sustainable quality will leave you amazed.

We want you to shop with confidence knowing our products will stand the test of time, so our promise to you is simple; if any of our items fail to keep up with you over time, we will repair or replace it free of charge.

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