Freedom of Animals has been turning heads since its launch last year (even Vogue got the memo), and the label's chic clutches, totes, backpacks, and shoulder bags have certainly grabbed our attention. Not only are the shapes swoon-worthy as far as fashion goes, but the brand also ticks off all of The Stylish Kind's other must-have attributes: vegan, eco- and people-friendly, and independently-owned.
The back-story and mission are equally compelling. "I've worked in the fashion world for 10 years and I felt almost immediately upon entering it that it wasn't right to rely on animal skin and fur for fashion," said Freedom of Animals co-founder Morgan Bogle, who graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design and worked as a stylist before launching her business with fellow fashion expert Scott MacDonough. "I slowly moved from high fashion to commercial fashion to launching Freedom of Animals, all the while educating myself on the leather and fur industry as well as volunteering with shelters and animal sanctuaries worldwide. I decided I needed to be an active participant in conscious consumption and couldn't find it out there, so we created it ourselves."
Each bag in the collection is U.S. made and sustainably sourced. Materials include vegetable-dyed, partially-recycled polyurethane, organic cotton, re-purposed plastic from water bottles, and zippers from recycled metals. Freedom of Animals has also -- true to its name -- partnered with like-minded organizations including The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.
We were thrilled to chat with Morgan about where her love of animals originated, tips for creating a cruelty-free wardrobe, and, of course, what she wears. Read on for all of this, plus an exciting collaboration set to hit retail in November.
My heart is with wildlife and always has been. I grew up on a sailboat in the Caribbean, so I feel a closeness with the earth. I don't understand what people are doing to the planet and what people do to animals, so I feel it's my mission to use my love to help them and to help educate people on the importance of conservation. It isn't our planet, it's shared with all beings, and I don't feel a massive separation between my species and others. I connect with them all.
Current animal pals:
I have one pit bull named Sugy but she is one of 11 that we've rescued in the past five years. We found all the others homes and kept Sugy because she was in such bad shape when she came to us, I couldn't disappoint her. She has become one of my best friends.
First fashion memory:
Sketching a model at Central Saint Martins in London and being one of the only students who didn't have their sketch ripped up and thrown across the room! I am a good drawer.
Not fussy at all. I am a jeans girl in the winter and a dress/skirt girl when its hot out. I keep it simple and minimalistic but prefer fitted to over-sized.
I've been wearing fitted black calf-length dresses with a long gray summer trench a lot lately -- also a wrap skort with a cropped top and vegan sandals.
Go-to beauty product:
For makeup, it is Ilia (and we collaborated with them for a beautiful make up bag hitting stores in November). I love Arbonne, a Swiss-based vegan skin care line, and I wear oil on my face every night.
Thoughts on transitioning to a cruelty-free closet:
It's getting easier because people are becoming more aware and developing alternatives in the fashion industry, but reading all about the process of everything is so important -- knowing what the source of everything is, where it is made, what the material is, was a person or animal hurt to create it. Are there chemicals in it? Knowing the difference between PVC and polyurethane. Knowing that wool and cashmere and silk come at a cost. Being aware is step one, and then finding it will become easier.
Favorite fall item from Freedom of Animals:
I like aspects of every bag, but the Veronika Tote is the most useful for me, as I carry so much around on a daily basis. It's a big tote that isn't awkward but allows you to carry a laptop and travel comfortably. At night I always wear the Melia Lia or Melia Seraa because they are petite and dressed-up but hold all the essentials, plus they convert into clutches.
Next up for the label:
Our spring 15 collection has the same shapes as fall but with a beautiful and soft color palette. It's very Palm Springs meets NYC but not in a confusing way. [It's] sand and blush tones with a new and fun texture.
Best down-time activities:
Walking my dog along the east river or going on a hike upstate NY. But if I could choose anything in the world, it would be to volunteer with animals. It feels healing.