For modern consumers, the look and quality of a bag is incredibly important. They want something that stands the test of time; not just in terms of its aesthetic but also how long it will last. But now, more people are also looking to shop consciously and want to know about their purchases’ ethical and sustainability credentials.

Leather is still a contentious topic in the environmentally friendly fashion sector but at Billy Tannery, we are working to change the narrative.

What makes a leather bag sustainable?

Before we can begin to talk about the different sustainable leather bags that we craft, we first need to delve a little deeper into what makes a leather bag sustainable. You might think that the answer is for the bag not to be made from real leather at all, but this isn’t quite the case.

You see, most vegan leather that is labelled as eco leather is actually made from either PVC or plant-based material, such as cacti, which is then reinforced with polyurethane. These plastic-based materials are weaker than real leather, so the bags made with them don’t last as long and end up in landfill where they don’t biodegrade.

In contrast, when a bag is constructed from leather using high-quality processes, it can last for centuries, meaning it has much less of an environmental impact on the planet than the many plastic-based bags that would have been bought, used, and thrown away in the same period.

In addition to a leather bag’s longevity, its supply chain and manufacture also play a significant part in how sustainable the finished product is.

How our micro tannery operates sustainably

Billy Tannery uses goat hides which are a by-product of the growing demand for goat meat and dairy products in the British food sector. Before we built our microtannery, not a single goat hide was being tanned in the UK, but we now save thousands a year from going to waste.

We work directly with British farmers and producers to ensure that the carbon footprint of our leather is as small as possible and our bags are made by hand in two independent workshops.

Our leather is naturally tanned using previously wasted vegetable by-products and bark extract. What’s more, we recycle 90% of the water that is used in the process and turn the waste into compost.

The result is a range of full-grain leather products that don't compromise on quality or sustainability. Our leather bags are a great showcase of our principles whilst being effortlessly stylish and incredibly durable. They each come in three classic colours: forest, chestnut and black.

The Gote

If you are looking for a sustainable leather handbag, then The Gote might be just what you are after. It’s our take on a soft leather tote bag and is ideal for everyday use but is also large enough for taking everything you need for an overnight stay.

Designed as a unisex bag, it can fit in a laptop, meaning you can take it into the office and it has internal compartments for smaller items like your phone, keys, or notepad. It also comes with a detachable bridle strap meaning that you can tailor its look to meet your style and needs.

The Zip Tote

After receiving hundreds of requests for a smaller version of our Gote tote bag, we made it happen with the Zip Tote handbag. Unisex, zipped, fully lined and incredibly versatile, this bag is one that can be used for so many purposes. And with a mid-length handle it’s designed to be worn over the shoulder or in the hand.

Take it to work meetings and you’ll be able to tuck away your laptop in the padded internal pouch and there’s still room for your phone, wallet, keys, notepad, and other must-haves too. Plus, there’s an easy access external slip pocket which is a great space for stationery. Or use it for a summer’s day outing and put all your essentials, such as a water bottle, suncream and hat safely inside, and then slip your sunnies into the exterior pocket ready for catching rays.

The Large Pouch

We’ve updated our Large Pouch to make it even more functional. Now with a detachable strap, it can become a sleek and stylish shoulder bag in seconds. This means you can use it as a laptop sleeve or folio case during the day, and easily transform it into a bag that’s the perfect accompaniment to your evening outfit.

Made from 100% vegetable-tanned goat or deer leather, it’s available in 4 colours including brown, black and forest green and is finished with premium brass fittings.

The Rolltop Backpack

Our signature bag, The Rolltop Backpack is large enough for any adventure but still lightweight and practical. It can be carried using the top handles or worn on your back thanks to the wide bridle leather shoulder straps and padded back panel.

It can carry up to 26 litres and has the ability to expand as required. Whether you’re a teacher who needs to take books from the coffee table to the classroom or a digital nomad who needs their tools to hand at all times, this backpack is suitable for everyone.

The Ziptop Backpack

The Ziptop Backpack is the Rolltop’s smaller, lighter sibling. It has much the same functionality but with a zip fastening at the top for quick access.

Spacious at 20 litres, it is lined with heavy British cotton and has a large main compartment and padded laptop sleeve. It can be carried in the hand or worn on the back, making it a great choice for any outing or activity.

All of our leather bags are made in small batches of ten to ensure attention to detail that you just can't get from mass-manufactured bags. They also all feature brass hardware that, like our goat leather, develops a unique patina over time and each come with a lifetime repair guarantee.

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