Why I No Longer Buy Matt & Nat

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!

💚

128 Responses

  1. Rs
    | Reply

    I just need to get this off my chest in terms of M and N, the owners and his family are from montreal, they are well known here. However, the owner manny promotes veganism etc yet the entire family has expensive leather goods. They all wear gucci and best of all have chanel bags. So how exactly are you living to the company standards you set? Is hypocrisy at its best. Promote what you want to make money, but go behind and buy lambskin leather goods.

  2. Chloé
    | Reply

    I really wish I had read this article and all the comments on others sites before buying these shoes…
    I bought a first pair in shop in October, which I had to exchange because there were fingerprints printed in the rubber (so indelible). In December I got my new pair back, I have worn them less than 10 times, less than 2 hours each time and now the sole on the left heel is coming off!
    At first I didn’t regret paying a high price thinking I was encouraging ethical and responsible practices, instead I feel like I’m fattening up yet another rich businessman practicing greenwashing!

  3. Cara
    | Reply

    Man this is so disappointing. I live in Brooklyn and have used Matt & Nat bags to commute for YEARS. They make the perfect medium sized – not too big – zipper or flap secure – crossbody bags! I’ve struggled for a while with weighing the impact of leather vs vegan leather – and still have yet to come up with an answer.

  4. Viky
    | Reply

    Oh boy… I wanted to buy a new bag and came across mat and nats bags. This brand had great feedback and people said that the quality was great. But after reading this I no longer want it. If it means that I will support their unethical work policy then thank you, no thank you. Great post!

  5. robin
    | Reply

    I was a first-time shopper, and regrettably did not look up any reviews. My complaint has to do with their return policy. Evidently if shoes are on final sale, you cannot return them. I didn’t think to look up their return policy since almost all shoe sellers have a generous return policy given the trickiness of purchasing shoes online. So my money basically went down the drain since the shoes don’t fit. I even offered to pay the shipping fees. Nope, no compromising on their part. Not a good way to treat a brand new customer.

  6. Caroline
    | Reply

    They also have terrible customer service! And their exchange policy is extremely strict and unhelpful to customers.

    • Tasha Banack
      | Reply

      I agree, my bag would fall apart walking, I returned it in December 2020 and here it is The middle of February and they have not bothered to send me a replacement, saying that they are out of stock of the item I’ve chosen. They did not contact me at all. I had to email them and say… What’s going on. That is only a small part of why I am upset with their customer service. I am a busy person who doesn’t have time to be harrassing a business about their sub par product. Who is paying for my time to have to deal with this complaint? I have never purchased anything and had this much trouble exchanging it. Can’t even get my money back, even though that is what I would prefer.

      • Océanne
        | Reply

        I had a similar situation, I bought a bag the 10the of January and paid 12 dollars for the shipping but Fedex lost my package. I contacted matt and nat care for help and they didn’t do anything. Fedex are the ones who contacted me to inform me that they had lost my package and that I should contact matt and nat for a refund. So, I did and they keep pushing away the problem, we are now the 14the of march and I still have not been refund. Their costumer service is the worst I have ever seen.

        • Anna Vu
          | Reply

          So true. I happened to me as well and they always try to push away the issue by saying “kindly advise” or “sincerely sorry for….” but no offering resolution. The issue escalated when I kept emailing them, and at the end, all they said was “we fulfilled our responsibility and we are not responsible for your (lost) package. Therefore, we can’t make a refund.” Sucks!!!

      • Sam
        | Reply

        As someone that used to work there, I can tell you the quality is crap and they used to force us to sell them as environmentally friendly but if you read about the materials they use #1 low quality and harmful to the environment #2 they are selling you a bag that is not made ethically in China people need to blast them on social media and reviews. The CEO and the family that runs the business eat meat and also wear designer shoes such as Gucci which I doubt that Gucci is considered “Vegan” horrible company the owners treat people like slaves or like we are back in the stone age and they pay very little money it’s not worth getting yelled at by them. Even the customer service people hate working there they quit so often no one sticks around because we know our rights as workers and this is Canada and the owners live in the past. This is why in their stores they have a no money back policy so you’re stuck with the bag even if it’s crap. I don’t know why this company is successful they are the worse and the owner is more worried about being a social media star, so if you know people that want to buy this brand just tell them to boycott it !!!

      • Drew
        | Reply

        Truly desapointed that my handbag does not last in time when Matt and Nat says on their website that they want “to improve our sustainable and eco-friendly ways, while still producing high quality products”. Nothing sustainable or high quality here if vegan leather lasts a year or so. Not only the seams are already tearing, but the material itself is tearing. My shoemaker cannot do anything about it. Sadly, I will stop buying shoes, wallets and handbags from them. Greenwashing indeed. I will buy local craftsmen leather products. Over all, it will be more sustainable.

  7. Carine
    | Reply

    I’m so happy I found this article before purchasing from Matt and Nat, it’s been so hard finding a good vegan backpack that’s also sustainable… I guess I’ll keep on searching!

  8. Oktawia
    | Reply

    Thank you for this article <3 Now I know why I have why I had mixed feelings fot this brand…

  9. Sarah
    | Reply

    Has anyone decided to boycott Apple? May not be solely manufactured in China, but it is not a good company.

    • Stef
      | Reply

      It might not be a good company either, but the items they are producing do not have as many alternatives as f.e. backpacks, especially when it comes to phones and operating systems. It is a choice between plague and cholera.

  10. K
    | Reply

    Hi!

    I stumbled across your post and was very compelled to reply. I’m really happy that you are taking the time to ask important questions about companies that make claims about being eco-conscious and sustainable when so many companies are unclear and dishonest. I am a recent store employee with Matt and Nat and can confirm that they are not ethical and sustainable as they claim to be. The bags are primarily made with either PVC or PU, and are made in factories in China. I was told that one of their factories are at the SA8000 standard and we were told to emphasize that they were “working towards making all of their factories up to that standard” when asked by customers.

    If you would be interested in any additional information about my experience working in the store please feel free to reach out, quite honestly even when I’ve asked for more information throughout my time there they have always told me that they would “look into it” but never got back to me. I don’t know a whole lot about the manufacturing of their products but I can tell you about the bags and the culture of working at Matt and Nat.

  11. Anna
    | Reply

    Hi, thanks a lot for your article. I bought recently sandals from matt&nat. When I unpacked the box I saw on the sole of the shoes that they are made in China… What a disappointment. Also I found their customer service rude and not responsive. They reimbursed me for the return but not for the shipment that I paid for when I placed the order which is against consumer rights and European Union. Not even mentioning that I paid twice the price for shipping the return and paid for customs fee. The customer oriented businesses have deals with shipping couriers that cover customs fees. It is not the case for Matt&Nat.

  12. JJ
    | Reply

    I agree their quality has gone down. I bought a bag a couple years ago and the strap started to crack within a year. I thought, I could live with it, as it was only on the side that goes on my shoulder, but now chunks have come off and it is on both sides. It’s lime when a plastic bottle breaks. Must be the PVC material.

    Thank you for all the other information, I didn’t know it. Very well written. You tried to give them opportunity to show their brand is great and instead they tried to buy you off.

    Won’t be buying from them again.

  13. Addie
    | Reply

    PIXIE MOOD, way better and actually ethical and sustainable. Doesn’t hurt that they have super cute styles too. I believe they are Canadian as well.

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      Are they actually ethical? They have so little information on their manufacturing available.

  14. Yasmin
    | Reply

    Ive been looking for a good vegan leather alternative for a long time and was super excited by Matt and Nat (I am also Canadian). Being a conscious and well informed consumer, I was dismayed and appalled by the amount of PVC being used by Matt & Nat (as well as other vegan/’eco’ brands).

    I recently invested in a beautiful cork leather bag by a French company, Bobobark and I love it sooooo much. They ran a super successful Kickstarter campaign last year (I backed it) and the bag I received is amazing quality. Since they are a new and small company, they are not very popular yet, so I wanted to let people know about them 🙂 I am not being paid for this post! I’m just super happy with my bag. I’m a thrifty shopper, so it was expensive for me (around $300). All anxiety around my purchase was alleviated once I received my bag.

    It’s great to see a company finally using real ethical and environmentally friendly leather alternatives. I’m excited to see where new research into apple and pineapple leather will take us!

    • Claire Watson
      | Reply

      But…. Bobobark are also not transparent about their manufacturing anywhere on their website. Yes, they’re sustainable, but they’re very vague about their manufacturing in China. Very disappointing.

  15. natou
    | Reply

    wish i read your article a few hours sooner.. just bought a bag. Thabk god i can return it.

  16. Stephanie
    | Reply

    Thank you for your article, I was just about to look for a Matt and Nat bag until I came across your blog! So now I’m looking for alternatives from the UK… Please can you tell me the advise and tell me the difference between your recycled and vegan recommendations in your directory, for example, Grunbag I think it recycled and vegan?

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      While Grunbag has many great vegan bag options they do also use leather in some of their styles so they’re not a totally vegan brand.