Today’s goodie read is about bags. Vegan bags. Super classy, timeless and cruelty free. I got the chance to catch up with Morgan Bogle, the well reflected and charming founder of Freedom Of Animals. Morgan is taking things to the next level, that’s why all the pieces of the brand are absolutely gorgeous. And guilt free as they are vegetable dyed. Get prepared for a bag lust. But, hey, you’re not alone! Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway, the famous fans of the brand, are feeling with you very well. Hang on there, girls!
Greeks say that the beginning is the half of the whole. How did Freedom of Animals start?
Ha! Yes. Freedom of Animals was created after years of being in the fashion industry and on the side rescuing dogs and volunteering at sanctuaries. Finally, deciding that marrying the two worlds made the most sense. I researched ways to integrate the two worlds for a year and finally developed a cruelty-free, sustainable and luxurious bag line in May of 2013. The first year was so intense and I really didn’t know what I was doing, but when we landed on the cover of the New York Time’s Style section, I realized how worth it it all had been.
Freedom of Animals (FOA) is a sustainable fashion and cruelty-free bag line. What are the materials that you use to create these eco-friendly & high class pieces?
The year of research was so crucial for the brand – from being certain that the bags had to be vegan, to understanding that most leather replacement materials were bad for the environment and that the material had to be eco-friendly, as well. I became obsessed with only sourcing the most eco materials that I could find. I was lucky enough to find vendors that made luxurious fabrications from post consumer polyurethane and cotton blends. The material is vegetable dyed, it has low chemical content, it’s produced in low emission factories and it’s US durability tested. The hardware we use is recycled brass with no nickel and low chemical finishing. The outcome is a water resistant, luxuriously soft and durable bag that looks comparable to leather bags on the market.
Part of the ecological consciousness is knowledge. How does something raw transform to an all-time classic handbag?
When I first started designing and playing with the fabric, I felt that I needed to push the boundaries of the material and create something not only classic and chic, but in line with what is out there and trending. I wanted to create structured bags rather than soft vegan bags because it felt like a more interesting move… so from the beginning to the end, it really is a huge transformation! Working with the talented factory that I am partnered with has allowed us to create (essentially) plastic bags that look like Celine and The Row and leave a smaller carbon footprint behind.
All luxury items are made in the US. Is that a choice of yours? What does that practically mean, in terms of productivity, production costs, control, etc.?
Initially, we were sampling here out of convenience and researching Mexican and Italian manufacturers to produce quantity, but after a year of doing so I realized that the idea of taking away the production from the people who were helping create the products wasn’t right. I wanted to support them and a US economy, so it became a part of our mission; American Made.
Sustainable fashion stands for quality not for quantity. How would you convince those who still prefer to buy a leather bag to turn to eco-friendly brands and thereafter, to an eco-friendly lifestyle?
Well, we want to both provide an alternative and not make people feel guilty for not being on board, so, by showing people that we can provide them with an eco version of what they want and have, we can help educate them on what goes into mass produced and unethical fashion. It’s a slow process that we hope will turn into a movement across the fashion world.
Clothes and accessories come out from a human need. You take it to the next level and you get people to think. I could tease it, but it is better when you talk about that-how do you choose the name of each bag?
I think about that all the time, how much things have changed from needing to wanting, and I like the idea of being both a want and a need. The earth needs us to be more conscious of what we are consuming and how we consume it. We name the bags after orphaned elephants that have either survived experiencing their families being poached or have not survived. I think it’s the least we can do to honor them. All the elephants are or were in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The names are so beautiful and they work well with the bags! There are a few bags named for other reasons, such as the Sharkie, that was intended to honor the millions of sharks killed annually for their fins. We hope to partner with other organizations to bring awareness to many causes.
I also spotted that the MARA backpack is a PETA x FOA collaboration. From year to year, how do you see people’s mood on doing good deeds? Can we be optimistic that people are getting more and more responsible or is it blurry to tell?
The Mara backpack has been a design for a few seasons now and when PETA reached out to us last summer to do a collaboration, we decided that would be the best bag to develop with them. We selected a unique color/texture specifically for PETA, made a tote bag as well, and sold out within two weeks. It was incredible! I didn’t know what to expect but I do believe that people are interested in good deeds, especially the demographic that follow PETA.
What to expect from FOA in the near future?
We are working on a few new shapes for Fall/Winter ’15 and have big collaborations for Spring/Summer ’16.
As I see it, FOA is a movement and not just a bag brand. What are your wishes and dreams for your label and for our world?
I hope to be a part of a change in consumption, to help educate people about the production process in of everything really, and I hope that we can save lives in the process. It’s all very exciting and the driving force behind it is the hope of a better future for the planet and the creatures we share it with.
What does ‘Nothing But Hope And Passion’ mean to you?
It means everything to me because nothing is worth doing if there isn’t the hope for something positive and the only way to achieve that is to be passionate enough to make it happen. I am driven by the hope that we can change the way we consume and my passion is to spend my life educating people to be passionate enough to make the right decisions.
To keep up with Morgan’s new exploits, visit the Freedom Of Animals site.
All photos, courtesy of Freedom of Animals