Rare is the socially conscious fashionista who does not own a handbag designed by Inder Bedi.
Bedi’s two animal-by-product-free lines — Inder Bedi and Matt & Natt — are manufactured by his Montreal-based company, Via Vegan Ltd.
The lines are a dream come true for animal-friendly handbag hounds.
“A woman told me that she loves bags, but every time she buys them, she has to go to a shoemaker to have the leather straps cut off and replaced,” said Bedi. “People are becoming more demanding of leather-free products+hopefully, we can penetrate more of that market.”
Bedi in 1997 launched his first handbag line under the Via Vegan label and changed the collection’s name in 2000 to Inder Bedi (the corporate parent’s moniker remained Via Vegan). The pricier Matt & Nat line made its debut in 2001.
With two animal-friendly handbag lines, Bedi is fulfilling both his creative vision and commitment to the protection of animals. To this end, he uses synthetic “leathers” from Europe to craft his bags and donates a percentage of his sales to animal-rights organization PETA. Bedi also uses denim and linen in his lines.
While such actions are essential to the principles guiding his lifestyle, Bedi said that some shoppers are sooner moved by innovative design and good construction.
“I use ready-to-wear fabrics and make them more durable by laminating them or putting backings behind them,” he said. “People don’t care anymore if a bag’s leather or not — they just want a high-quality product that’s fashion forward and looks good.”
Wholesale prices range from $15 to $50 for Matt & Nat and $25 to $185 for Inder Bedi.
Bedi draws inspiration from every source imaginable: During a recent trip to Home Depot, he decided that tubing used for plumbing would go well inside the bamboo handles attached to his totes.
Along with his ability to “think outside the bag,” Bedi said being based in Canada is an additional selling point for his creations.
“People have a high degree of respect for Canadian-made products,” he said. “There’s a certain attention to detail they’re aware of. It’s a cleaner product, and they know it’s well made.”
The Matt & Nat line is more fashion driven, while Inder Bedi has more of a signature appeal. For spring, Matt & Nat will offer a belt group with its grosgrain clutches and denim handbags with a U.S. flag printed on it.
The Inder Bedi line for spring will offer plaid pastel bags and faux pony briefcases.Though he wishes one day to expand his enterprise into a clothing line, Bedi is satisfied with his footing in accessories. He believes it is still easier for a store to attract attention by investing in eye-catching bags rather than new clothing lines that must be stocked in several colors and sizes.
Regardless of anyone’s motivation for purchasing his bags, Bedi is proud he can combine his twin passions for design and veganism in a fashionable and useful product.
Via Vegan bags, on display in Tim Philbin’s showroom at 8E112B, are expected to gross $1 million wholesale this year.