We updated this article in February 2022 to ensure our top picks were still in stock, replace discontinued items and add one new pick, the Pixie Mood Bubbly Clutch. We also added a shopping guide and answered frequently asked questions.
Faux leather purses, totes, diaper bags, backpacks and even leggings have become wildly popular as they look and feel very similar to real leather without using any animal products. While leather bags are made from the skin of animals, vegan purses and bags use faux leather alternatives like polyurethane, which is a coating put on fabric to give it a leather-like sheen.
One important note: Although faux leather is vegan, it is not necessarily "plant-based" or considered sustainable fashion: It's typically plastic-based, which has a steep environmental cost. On the other hand, real leather production involves the harsh treatment of animals and excessive greenhouse gas emissions from raising livestock. All things considered, our sustainability experts agree that the negative environmental impact from livestock production is actually worse than plastic leather. That being said, there are brands working on plant-based options – like vegan leather made from apple skins and pineapple leaves – they just haven't hit the mainstream yet.
The fiber scientists and textile sustainability experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute rigorously test and review leather and faux leather products to find the best faux leather bags to buy. These picks on this list are from top-tested brands, editor favorites, highly rated and reviewed purses online or new styles with innovative features that our experts love. Shop the best vegan purses and faux leather bags of 2022:
Our top picks
- Best Overall Vegan Purse: Matt and Nat Nivi Vegan Tote Bag
- Best Value Vegan Purse: Realer Faux Leather Large Hobo Purse with Tassel
- Best Vegan Leather Backpack: Kenneth Cole On Track Pack Vegan Leather Laptop & Tablet Backpack
- Best Vegan Crossbody Purse: Amelie Galanti Small Crossbody Bag
- Best Vegan Diaper Bag: Freshly Picked Convertible Diaper Backpack
- Best Designer Vegan Purse: Gunas The Brand Jane
- Best Vegan Laptop Bag: Ecosusi Briefcase Messenger Laptop Bag
- Best Vegan Shoulder Bag: JW Pei 90s Shoulder Bag
- Best Vegan Clutch: Pixie Mood Bubbly Clutch
- Best Luxury Vegan Purse: Angela Roi Cher Tote
Matt & Nat is a brand that specializes in vegan leather products with dozens of different faux leather bags to choose from. Our experts love the Nivi vegan tote bag in particular because it's not only stylish, but it's made from the brand’s trademarked Appleskin fabric, which substitutes waste from the fruit juice industry for raw chemical materials to help reduce emissions and energy consumption. We love the brand's commitment to sustainability even extends to using recycled nylon lining in all of its bags.
- Made with fruit juice waste
- Fits a 13-inch laptop
- Brand offers tons of different styles
This best-selling bag on Amazon is made with polyurethane leather and costs just under $40. Reviewers love that the interior has six pockets for easy organization and can even fit a 13" laptop in the large size. It comes in an impressive 28 different colors and this slouchy boho-chic bag is sure to hold everything you'll need while also looking on-trend.
- Over 7,000 5-star Amazon reviews
- 6 organizational pockets
- Reviewers note that the quality of the lining isn't as nice as other bags
Leather backpacks can cost hundreds of dollars, but this affordable style can be as low as $60 depending on the color you choose. The padded laptop pocket keeps your valuables safe while the anti-theft radio frequency identification (RFID) blocking technology helps protect your passport and credit cards. Reviewers love the padded shoulders and back strap that attaches easily to a carry-on, making this the ultimate travel backpack.
- Padded shoulder straps
- Organization zipper compartments
- RFID blocking technology
- Some reviewers note the lining tore while using
This vegan purse is one of the most popular crossbody bags on Amazon with over 2,400 perfect 5-star reviews. Reviewers love that it’s lightweight and the perfect size for carrying just the essentials. One shopper says, “It was able to fit my passport, phone, cash, cards, lipstick and an extra pair of earrings in there with no problem.” It comes in 25 colors and is very budget-friendly at under $15.
- Good size for carrying essential items
- Available in 25 colors
- Some reviewers find the crossbody strap long
A diaper bag needs to have excellent organizational compartments to hold everything your little one needs (and what you need too!). With options to wear as a backpack or crossbody, this stylish pick doesn't look like a traditional diaper bag. It has a front zippered pocket and two side pockets for easy access to items.
- Converts into a backpack or crossbody
- Easy-access front pockets
- Stylish design
- Some reviewers had durability issues
Many vegan leather brands only offer neutral shades, but Gunas the Brand has tons of bright, bold colors and reviewers rave that this bag is the perfect pop of color. With every shade of the rainbow available, reviewers especially love the Jane and Cottontail styles for their feminine touches.
- Bright shades available
- High shine vegan polyurethane fabric
- Dust bag included
This laptop bag from ECOSUSI fits up to a 15.6" device in a padded laptop sleeve. The roomy structured interior also has multiple zippered and open pockets to keep everything organized. Many reviewers rave that this bag "exceeded all expectations" with gorgeous faux leather that stays in great shape with constant use.
- Floral front detailing
- Padded laptop sleeve
- Excellent internal organization
- Some colors might be out of stock
Crocodile print has been a huge trend seen on runways in recent seasons. This stylish shoulder bag from JW PEI uses faux crocodile leather for a chic look. Available in 10 shades, reviewers love that this bag has "amazing quality for the price," starting at around just $30.
- Chic faux leather crocodile fabric
- 10 stylish colors
- Reviewers love the unboxing experience
- No internal organization
This clutch is made with vegan leather and has a soft and squishy feel. It has a top magnetic closure and is large enough to hold a phone, wallet, keys and other essentials. As a bonus, it also comes with a strap to convert it to a crossbody bag. We love that the brand uses more sustainable materials by recycling plastic bottles to create their vegan leather and the lining is made from recycled polyester. In addition, the brand is climate positive, meaning with every order they ship, they offset the carbon emissions.
- Can be used as a clutch or crossbody purse
- Uses recycled materials
- Brand offsets carbon emissions
- Metal hardware to attach crossbody strap is visible when used as a clutch
For a professional work bag, look no farther than Angela ROI. This vegan handbag brand's signature totes are perfect to lug everything you need to the office. With a loyal following, the brand took user feedback and added a secure magnetic closure to this popular tote. The subtle pebble texture polyurethane vegan leather is available in three neutral shades.
- Pebbled texture
- Magnetic closure
- Central zipper compartment
- Often a waitlist
While the word “vegan” may make you think “plant-based,” vegan leather bags are usually made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PU (polyurethane), a.k.a. plastic. There are some varieties of vegan leather that are made using natural materials like pineapple leaves or juice waste, but it’s very rare and even still, the accessories (like trims and linings) may not be from natural materials.
In order to get that leather-like shine on faux leather, a PU coating is put on the fabric and this chemical process also has a steep environmental cost. So while faux leather is generally more affordable and easier to clean than real leather, don't necessarily believe that it is substantially more environmentally friendly to buy a vegan purse.
- Take a close look at the materials. If you want a vegan and sustainable bag, opt for non-plastic materials or recycled options. New materials continue to be released like Piñatex, which uses pineapple leaves to create vegan leather. And note that buying a vegan purse secondhand is the most environmentally friendly purchase you can make!
- Look for a style you’ll love long term. Both vegan leather and leather aren’t necessarily sustainable materials, so choose a bag that you’ll wear and use regularly.
Be sure to check the care label for any special instructions for washing your vegan leather purse. However, in general, most vegan leather bags are fairly easy to clean simply wipe down with a damp washcloth and then air dry. For picks with a PU coating, it is especially important to follow the care label closely to prevent any damage while washing.
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute. She’s been at Good Housekeeping for over three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests for luggage, tampons, pillows, sheets, shoes, period underwear and more. With a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience. As a lifetime sewer with previous product development experience, she has a strong fashion background with expertise on proper fit and construction. She continues to expand her knowledge with additional coursework on sustainable manufacturing and new textile testing methodologies.