The handbag, accessories, travel, gift and home business is launching Jan. 16 its first sustainable fashion collection, called ReActive, for luggage, bags and accessories. It’s another growth maneuver for the $400 million-plus Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company, which last year advanced into footwear and jewelry to evolve into more of a lifestyle brand.
With ReActive, each yard of fabric is made from 16 recycled PET bottles. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a type of polyester.
“This is really where the industry is going,” said Beatrice MacCabe, Vera Bradley’s chief creative officer. “The customer is very interested.”
The ReActive collection launches with three patterns and six styles — a sling backpack, a small gym bag, travel duffel, a tote, a “grand” backpack and a mini-sling backpack. Aside from its sustainable character, the line is lightweight, water-repellent and durable, making it consistent with elements of the brand’s “Lighten Up” collection.
“The fabric itself and the lining are fully recyclable,” explained MacCabe. Components, such as zippers, trims and webbings, are not, though MacCabe added, “We’re working on the technology. “
Given the timing of the launch for spring, the debut collection “speaks to the beach. We have designed ReActive in a much more active sporty style — very much for the woman on the go with a very busy lifestyle,” said MacCabe, noting the hands-free and cross-body styles, as well as the fanny packs and backpacks reflecting the ath-leisure trend.
The launch is merely “a first step” for ReActive. “We have plans to really build on this,” said MacCabe. “What’s amazing to me is that between spring and summer, we will actually recycle 2.7 million bottles.”
In February and March, Vera Bradley will introduce additional ReActive spring break and beach essentials, including a drawstring family tote, a cooler backpack, a weekender and a hanging organizer. The line will further expand later in the year with a convertible sport bag and other styles.
The ReActive fabric is more expensive than fabric Vera Bradley typically uses, though the ReActive line is not priced more expensively, MacCabe said. Prices will range from $15 to $198. The higher fabric costs have been offset somewhat by figuring out how to be more economical in the construction, she said.
ReActive will be sold in Vera Bradley stores, on verabradley.com, and in department and specialty stores around the country. Vera Bradley offers women’s handbags, often in cotton, as well as luggage and travel items, fashion and home accessories, and gifts. The company was founded in 1982 by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller.