Over the years my sense of style has graduated towards a more elegant and refined look. I prefer items that convey a sense of traditional grace and poise. I am drawn to classic pieces and timeless accessories. However, here comes the conundrum. A classic outfit goes hand in hand with a classic Italian leather handbag as a key accessory. But, as a woman with a compassionate and kind spirit, a leather handbag does not represent who I am and what I stand for. Am I compromising on style by avoiding something made from leather?
Recently, I heard an Italian craftsman speaking of leather as being the noble material with a high status above any alternative material. This comment struck to the heart of my dilemma. The juxtaposition of Leather as a noble material was striking. Noble? How can one describe using an animal’s skin as noble? We would recoil at the idea of fur being described this way.
The definition of noble as I understand it is to have high moral principles, to be ethical, virtuous, good, to be born of privilege or royalty. How then can this word be used to describe a cruel and barbaric process of turning animal skin into a handbag? To me, a noble material is something incorruptible and rare. Something solid, imposing, and magnificent. Describing leather as noble glosses over the fact that it takes an animal’s skin and churns it through a toxic process to turn out a material that will not rot when you hang it on your arm every day.
If a handbag tells a lot about a woman, then my handbag is going to say that I care. Elegance is not just about external beauty; it is a reflection of beauty that begins below the surface, showing the essence of the woman within. The question is not can one be elegant without a real leather handbag, but how can one possibly be elegant with one?
I believe making ethical fashion choices is an elegant action we can all take. Choosing not to wear animal skin means being a woman who values life over fashion, a woman who will not sacrifice another creature for her beauty. In a world where we can be anything, let’s be elegant and kind.
Her favourite bag:
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