I used to be a huge Matt & Nat fan. The first bag I invested in over 10 years ago was from Matt & Nat, and since then, almost all of my bags have been Matt & Nat. But sadly I won’t be buying from them again.
First of all, I want to say that I love their styles and that they’re vegan, and the bags can be good quality (although the quality seems to have diminished over the years). I used to recommend them for all these reasons, but have stopped promoting them and removed them from my brand directory. Here’s why:
They’re not transparent and I can’t get any information about their manufacturing.
A few years ago I was looking for a backpack and checked out Matt & Nat. Reading through their website, I had some questions about their transparency page and manufacturing process. I don’t like companies that use vague/general statements like “the conditions of the workers developing it are up to par with our standards” so I sent them an email asking for more information about their ethical/labour standards, whether they worked with a lot of factories or just a few, and asked them to elaborate on their SA8000 certification, because the website only says that “One of our factories operates by the SA8000 standard“. I got a response saying, “I have forwarded your inquiry to the appropriate representative who will be able to give you more information on this“, and then… Nothing. After a few months I sent another email, and again, no response.
I also took part in Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign asking Matt & Nat “Who made my bag?” which, unsurprisingly at this point, also got no response.
I ended up buying the backpack because it was the style I was looking for, but regretted it not long after. Doing some more research I learned that:
The majority of their bags are made from PVC, but this info is hard to find.
We know that synthetic vegan leathers are not good for the environment, but PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the worst as it has a negative impact throughout its production and life cycle and may also possibly be hazardous to our health. On Matt & Nat’s website they even say that “PU is always preferred over PVC, as it is less harmful for the environment“, so I assumed that most of their bags were PU.
They also present themselves as being an eco-conscious company, heavily focusing on their use of recycled bottles and cork, but it turns out a lot of their bags are still PVC. The bag’s outer material is also not included on their website listings, so it’s very difficult to know whether or not a bag is made from PVC.
I checked the tags on my bags, and most of them, including the backpack, are PVC. At the time of publishing Matt & Nat’s ‘Dwell’ and ‘Vintage’ collections – which make up the majority of their bags – are made from PVC.
Update: Matt & Nat has also received a warning from the Advertising Standards Authority about exaggerating their use of recycled materials.
Finally, Project Just (sadly no longer available) also released a profile on Matt & Nat that confirmed my worries about their transparency; their investigation also found that there is no information about whether or not Matt & Nat monitors any of the environmental impact of their supply chain.
So until they offer more information about their manufacturing process and their current and future use of vegan leathers/PVC, I don’t feel comfortable supporting them and can’t help but feel there is greenwashing going on.
UPDATES – Things Are Worse Than I Initially Thought
- It’s been mentioned in many comments (check them out below) that Matt & Nat does not seem to treat their employees well and has a lot of negative and worrisome reviews on Glassdoor.
- I removed a little part of this post saying “they moved their production from Canada” this was included because I remember when I purchased my first bag 10+ years ago being told it was made in Canada (although this might have been a mistake from the shop employee or me misunderstanding because they are a Canadian company) when I looked into them again years later they were manufacturing in China and I assumed they moved production. However it has been brought to my attention that the bags were never made in Canada.
- I spoke with a store owner who used to stock Matt & Nat. They told me the bags come shipped in excessive plastic packaging and when dealing with Matt & Nat they weren’t very transparent with answering questions about their product and manufacturing.
- Matt & Nat reached out to me saying they read this post and wanted to answer my questions. While they did provide more information, some of their answers were confusing/vague and I never received a response to my follow-up questions. They also offered to send me a free bag to “restore my faith in their brand” which honestly bothered me – I want answers, not a bag.
- I spoke with a former employee who confirmed the transparency, material disclosure, and packaging waste issues, as well as brought up some other issues/concerns which I’m looking more into.
What are your thoughts on Matt & Nat?
For some alternatives check out my round-up of sustainable bag & purse brands!