Kantala is nature and culture. The vegan handbags carry certifications for high ecological standards and exist to represent Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and vibrant, colourful culture. From the plant to the handwoven methods, Kantala is determined to preserve the traditions of 300-year-old techniques and empower the artisans to gain in knowledge and fair employment.
Kantala is probably the most natural and vegan handbags brand we have ever come across.
It borrows the name “Kantala” from nature: “Agave cantata”, also known as the “Hana plant”, which is the primary material for the vegan handbags. The Hana plant is an incredibly sustainable plant, which grows abundantly and re-grows, forming a rosette of thick leaves which can reach up to 2 meters in length.
During the harvesting process of the Hana plant, the artisans do not use machinery and manually extract the fibre from the leaves by using wooden tools, which have remained the same for over three centuries. The fine white colour fibre is then dyed and woven into mats.
Today the brand offers a range of totes, handbags, wristlets and purses made from mats woven with the fibres extracted from of the Hana rosette.
A fusion of vegan materials
These cheerful masterpieces also use other natural sourced fibres, like Piñatex™, a textile made from pineapple waste fibres which are considered to be a revolutionary leather alternative. And Kantalas’ logo is printed on upcycled polished coconut shells. Further enhancing the ethical credentials of the products, Kantala uses WFTO Fair Trade guaranteed handloom for lining in its products.
On top of that, Kantala also uses a combination of vegetable dyes (such as pods from the belleric tree) and eco-friendly reactive dyes, which are both OEKO TEX 100 and ISO certified.
Since dyeing processes are the number one pollutant in the fashion industry, using natural and responsible dyes is one of the reasons why Kantala received the 2016 award for “Sustainable Sourcing” from the Good Market in Sri Lanka.
As additional certifications, the brand is PETA-Approved Vegan, meaning no animals are harmed in the process of making Kantala handbags. Also, Kantala is a Good Market Sri Lanka approved vendor, a well-earned certification as a “good for people – good for planet” organisation.
Handbags with natural beauty and vibrant culture
Kantala is not just very vegan, but also a deep cultural rooted brand. The designs are inspired by a 300-year-old Sri Lankan weaving technique, where the handwoven Hana mats are the centrepiece of the vegan handbags.
The village of Henavala is where the master artisans craft with precision, passion and pride. The mats still today retain the simple and eco-friendly process introduced by their ancestors. From over 95 families residing in the village, only around 10 families are actively engaged in the craft. Most of the young folks leave town to find more lucrative jobs while only the older generation engaged in the craft. Back in 2013, when Kantala first started working with the artisans of Henavala, only 8 artisans were engaged with Kantala and the average age of an artisan was 60 years.
However, thanks to Kantala’s involvement with the craft, creating sustainable income for the artisans and giving a new dimension to the handwoven Hana mat in the world of fashion accessories, interest in the craft has been steadily growing. As at the end of 2017, there were 22 artisans engaged with Kantala and the average age of the artisans had dropped to 50 years.
2017 was the breakthrough for the brands’ expansion. Kantala completed a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, raising over USD 40,000 with contributors from the United States, Europe, Sri Lankan and Australia. The funds from the campaign were utilized to participate at the Pure London trade show in February 2018, fund the setup of weavers co-operative and procure a fibre extraction machine.
Kantala’s works with its suppliers, including the traditional artisans on fair trading principles. Not content merely satisfying the minimum requirement, Kantala pays its artisans 15% above the inflation-adjusted rural income receivers mean income. Additionally, they facilitate an open dialogue with the artisans, sharing knowledge and information and ensure payments are made in a timely manner to its artisans.
2018 – Expanding beyond Sri Lanka
Kantala has launched its second IndieGoGo campaign to give consumers the opportunity to pre-order products from the Autumn/Winter 2018 collection at a 15% discount from retail prices.
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