I am a vegetarian. I have been for close to ten years and in those ten years, I’ve gotten my fair share of eye rolling, perplexed looks, and the requisite, “Then why do you carry a leather bag?” And all I can really retort (besides, “It’s my life, why do you care?”) is, simply, that I’m doing the best that I can – for my health and the planet.
With Christie’s Green Auction taking place last week and Earth Day in our 7-Day forecast (this Sunday, to be exact), April seems the perfect month to focus on eco-friendly fashion. Now I’m not suggesting everyone wear burlap togas and throw eggs at every woman they see wearing a fur coat, but the sartorial choices we make do deserve a little infusion of green.
Case in point? Hare+Hart, one of the most chic collections of ethically conscious leather accessories and jackets I’ve come across as of late. Co-owners and designers Jennie Engelhardt and Emily Harrison manufacture in Argentina using locally sourced hides that result as a byproduct of its enormous beef industry. And since most Argentine cows are grass-fed and free roaming, Hare+Hart leather reflects a more natural hide with fewer mars from running into obstructions. I guess you can have your burger and wear it, too.
Julie Bensman: How do you define ethical design?
Hare + Hart: Making ethical decisions. We don’t claim to be "organic" or "eco” but try to run our business and create products in the most eco-friendly and humane way possible. Our products are made from real leather but we use vegetable tanned hides whenever possible. We also work with small family-run manufacturers whose workers are unionized and receive fair wages and benefits.
JB: How did the idea for the Zero Waste Bangle come about?
HH: Jennie needed to clean out her closet! It was overflowing with leather scraps and partial sample pieces, and she had no room for her clothes. We didn't want to throw away perfectly good leather, so we decided to make jewelry. We designed the bangles as a fun way to play with color while utilizing as much scrap leather from production as possible.
JB: Favorite H+H item for spring/summer?
HH: The Shopper Tote. It's great for running around and still fits everything you need, whether it's a laptop for work or a baguette and cheese to go sit in the park.
JB: Fashion aside, what are some little things you do to live greener?
HH: We both love antiques and try to buy used items whenever possible; we usually take public transportation or bike; and we try to be as eco-friendly around the house as possible — recycled paper products, low energy light bulbs, biodegradable cleaning products, eating locally sourced food, etc.