I’ve never been label mad*, I’m not a fashion snob, and I don’t have a hefty budget for finery. But I think I recognize good design when I see it—no matter the price point—and I do love discovering clothing and accessories that deliver affordable style. So I’m here to sing the praises of Bentley’s Riona line of vegan handbags, wallets and backpacks, which check both boxes. On top of great looks and sensible price tags, they’re also designed and manufactured with the health of the planet in mind, another plus for me.
The collection includes vegan handbags, crossbody and satchel bags, totes, mini-bags, pouches, make-up cases, wallets, card holders, key chains, and coin purses. In this case, vegan means made from biodegradable polyurethane. Linings of the vegan handbags are composed of post-consumer plastic bottles. You can probably debate how sustainable plastics can ever be. In this case, my reading is that they use about ten bottles worth of recycled plastic for the lining of each bag, which is a nicely-done monogram Jacquard. That diverts it from landfill and the ocean. Glues are eco-friendly. and gilded components are made of high-grade, long-lasting zinc won’t tarnish.
Linings are composed of post-consumer plastic bottles. You can probably debate how sustainable plastics can ever be. In this case, my reading is that they use about ten bottles worth of recycled plastic for the lining of each bag, which is a nicely-done monogram Jacquard. That diverts it from landfill and the ocean.
These all seem like good steps to me, especially since the materials for these vegan handbags look and perform as well as they do.
For winter, I used a handsome Hamilton tote from the Riona collection in a black snakeskin-textured finish. At $90, it’s about the average price of a not-so-great wallets I recently saw at a large, well-known department store.
Sturdy and roomy enough for my mittens, tissues, masks, keys etc., the bag was also lightweight—sometimes not the case with leather totes. Bank and credit cards are kept safe in a RFID protected zippered pocket. And I gave that purse a workout last winter—leaving it on damp floors, setting it down in the snow outside the car, stuffing it beyond reason with scarves and gloves, flinging it about during a melt-down at Costco (IFKYK).
At winter’s end, I cleared it out, wiped it with a damp cloth, and stored it for the season.
For spring and summer, I opted for one of the smaller, more compact vegan handbags from Bentley. The company say these modestly-sized, boxy shapes reference the 2000s, but I see in them the 1960s and 1970s. No matter, really, because these are timeless designs, nicely executed.
I ordered a Jacky in pink,** a colour that did not disappoint. It’s a super subtle shade that bring freshness to a favourite shape. Scroll down for other styles/colours.
I really like the generous adjustable straps, because they can be made to hang at the right level for people of any height (INCLUDING SHORT PEOPLE, HELLO!) Stitching is straight and sturdy and very tidily finished, It’s got a magnetic closing clasp that snaps to attention, and awfully pretty gold hardware.
AFFORDABLE STYLE FOR SUMMER
The Jacky pink (below right) has turned out to be a surprisingly versatile colour, pairing nicely with red, other pinks, purples, blues, and orange (if you like that sort of thing, which I do). Its crisp lines bring a little dressiness to every outfit, and it’s petit enough that when a family member asks if they can put something in purse, you can righteously say no.
Other shades include cognac, taupe, burgundy, and khaki, which I’ve not seen.
If, like me, you’re partial to florals, there’s the Soho collection, a softly textured finish with blossoms scattered across it. Sweet but not too sugary.
WANDERLUST ALERT: Bentley recently launched a boutique at the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for its TRACKER travel brand, and plans to open several more in other airports, train stations and bus terminals. You can also order it online.
*AFFORDABLE STYLE DISCLAIMER
I adore expensive designer scarves and I’m not afraid to say it. If I ever become super-rich, I’m stocking up on all the ones that have caught my eye over the years. Although possibly not to this extent.
One of my favourites is the Hermes scarf my family gave me for my 60th birthday. It might just beat out the 1960s Christian Dior scarf that belonged to my mom. Hard to say. Either way, I use both all the time, often tied around the strap of one of my beautiful Bentley bags. Which makes me feel pretty chic, TBH.
I’m enthralled not just by the stunning designs of the scarves, but the process by which they are made. I’m including this link for fellow textile and printing nerds. And for those of you interested in ideas for tying scarves, check out this fun video from Hermes.
** Bentley supplied me with samples of the Riona collection but did not sponsor or review this article. I really do love the colour and style of these well-made, beautifully designed and finished bags.