Our mission at MODHER is to keep our environmental impact as low as possible and to design handbags that are long-lasting — in both durability and style. Choosing the most thoughtful, Earth-friendly materials from which to craft our products is an enormous consideration in keeping us in-line with that mission.
The status quo for materials in the fashion accessories industry isn’t acceptable — for our brand and for the longevity and health of all of us who inhabit and rely upon this planet for survival. Much of the leather used in mainstream fashion comes from resource-intensive livestock farms that are environmentally destructive and responsible for widespread deforestation. Moreover, most leather-tanning practices are energy- and water-intensive, and working conditions in these factories tend to be dangerous.
Even the “vegan leather” industry is not without its drawbacks. Much of the synthetic leather on the market today is created from plastic polymers.
For all of these reasons, we’re committed to using only high-quality leather exclusively tanned in Italy, where the leather industry is a worldwide leader in sustainability; plant-based fabrics and materials such as cotton; all while avoiding synthetics. For us, quality material is synonymous with ecological material. We believe that any modern business should also be sustainable and ethical. In selecting our leather and other materials, we take into consideration the entire lifecycle of the material, the impact of its production, and its end life. Our criteria are based on where and who produced the raw materials, and the level of biodegradability leveraged with its durability.
Our Eco-Friendly, Ethical Leather
Leather is our preferred material, not only because it is considered a luxury in most of its applications, but also because — if produced in the right way — it is a sustainable choice.
All of our leather is produced in the leather district in Tuscany with cowhide sourced from sustainable livestock operations in Europe. Sourcing our cowhide this way helps us ensure that our products are not the result of widespread deforestation.
More than two-thirds of our products are made with vegetable-tanned leather, our preferred material, which is produced in Tuscany and certified by the Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium. The Consortium brings together 20 artisan tanneries of the Tuscan Leather District, united by the same philosophy, to protect their niche of high-quality product.
Vegetable tanning is an artisan tradition that the Tuscan tanneries in Italy have handed down for centuries, mixing antique recipes and state-of-the-art technology. This traditional process is based on the use of natural tannins: substances that can be found in many species of trees and vegetables. These natural tannin extracts make vegetable-tanned leather unique and easily distinguishable. Certified Vegetable-Tanned Leather products follow a production cycle that is strictly monitored to ensure a low impact on the environment:
- No animal is killed for its skin. The raw hides used by our tanneries are the discarded byproducts of the food industry.
- Tanned with natural tannins, a vegetable-tanned leather object can be easily disposed of at the end of its life, thanks to its chemical-biological characteristics.
The vegetable tanneries have invested in depuration systems and waste recycling that help them work in full respect of people and the environment.
We’ve been highly selective about the materials used in various parts of our bags, such as the linings. After assessing the possibility of recycled-plastic materials — which often were only 30% composed of recycled materials — we instead selected suede leather. This material is biodegradable, a leather-production byproduct, and certified by the Leather Working Group, ICEC, UNI, and ISO 14101.
Plant-Based Leather Alternative
At MODHER, we’ve always been interested in designing a handbag crafted with plant-based material — but we wanted to do it right.
While the vegetable-tanned leather we use is considered a byproduct, we’re also excited about the idea of offering a quality product that matches the values of our customers who opt for plant-based clothes and accessories. We believe that a valid alternative to leather cannot generate other types of cruelty — like the extraction of fossil fuels or plastic polluting our oceans (which can harm sea animals and even end up in our food chain).
Many leather alternatives are either a mix of plant-based and synthetic materials, or entirely plastic. In an effort to do better, we went in search of an ethically made, plastic-free, and biodegradable-yet-durable material. That’s when we found Mirum® — a totally plant-based and plastic-free material from Natural Fiber Welding. We’re excited to share that our first plant-based handbag, using Mirum®, will be available soon.
How we package our products is nearly as important to us as how we produce them. Therefore, we’re very careful to avoid redundant, excessive packaging materials.
Our product gift boxes are made with recycled cardboard and 100% recycled, post-consumer, and chlorine-free paper, which is FSC certified and GMO-free, produced with 100% green energy. Our branded dust bags are made with organic cotton and flannel, and they’re handmade at small, family-owned factories in Tuscany.
Even our brand tags have been meticulously considered. They’re made from 100% recycled T-shirt offcuts, which is a tree-free material that would normally be thrown away.
Down to the Details
With the goal of keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible, we localize our supply chain and production sites. We are proud to work with small family-owned factories, supporting the local community where our products are made and respecting the environment.
Furthermore, we rely on the Quality Assurance International laboratory to conduct mechanical, physical and chemical tests to guarantee the sustainability, safety and quality of our materials, which are certified against the presence of heavy metals, such as nickel, chrome and lead. We were proudly able to meet the REACH and the California Prop. 65 requirements.
We’ve always known that we could only feel good about producing our products if we had done our very best to source the most incredible, ethical, and sustainable materials available. The research and effort we’ve put into this process means that every part of our handbags is created and included with thought, intention, and an amazing story. We hope our customers open their product packages and are instantly enthralled by every detail — and by their part in supporting conscientious fashion.