The Morphbag is a British luxury fashion brand specialising in sustainable and stylish vegan leather handbags

The Morphbag by GSK is a multi award-winning British luxury fashion brand specialising in sustainable and stylish vegan leather handbags.

Launched in 2019 by Giovanna Sessi-Knott, a passionate advocate of sustainable fashion, The Morphbag offers multi-functional everyday handbag solutions for the busy and stylish woman.

A style staple for the ethically minded woman of today, The Morphbag collection is the ultimate set of three handbags, designed to take her from day to evening with ease. Eluxe Magazine has gone as far as to say that this is the only bag a woman needs in her wardrobe.

A bag is born

The Morphbag was created by Giovanna to solve the styling challenges she faced when she was juggling a busy full-time job alongside a young family.

With a husband, stepchildren, babies and a dog in tow, plus a job as a finance executive, Giovanna’s daily to-do lists were long, and time became a scarce commodity.

The pecking order of priorities was clear: 1. Family, 2. Job, 3. Dog, 4. Household, 5. Self.

Getting ready in the morning became a manic rush for Giovanna, and her previous polished look became a distant memory. The day she went to work wearing one brown and one black stiletto that it became clear her existing lifestyle was no longer sustainable, and big changes were needed. Fast!

The first step was to simplify her wardrobe.  Giovanna streamlined her wardrobe by keeping a capsule collection of only her best outfits. But while this approach worked brilliantly for her clothing, it fell short when it came to her handbags.

Giovanna found that none of her handbags were as versatile as she needed them to be: they didn’t flex with her wardrobe changes or adapt to the different roles she adopted in a day. What Giovanna needed was a handbag that would accessorise with browns as well as black and navy, one that was suitable in the boardroom as well as the playground, and then take her to a business dinner or date night. What Giovanna needed was her everyday handbag to morph with her wardrobe and transform with her day’s activities.

Re-inventing the everyday handbag

And so, The Morphbag signature set was born. Designed as a collection of handbags in six coordinated colourways to match any capsule wardrobe, the Morphbag includes a reversible tote for maximum versatility, a cross-body bag and a clutch.

The classic tote is the women’s go-to everyday handbag  – big enough to fit all of life’s essentials including a laptop. The cross-body handbag was designed for those situations when a woman needs to be hands-free – running after the children in a playground, crossing the street holding their hands, or when out sightseeing. The clutch is the practical multi-purpose colour-matched addition to the set and can be used as an evening bag or a wallet. The set can be used simultaneously or separately.

The clutch and cross-body bags fit neatly inside the reversible tote, which also solved the problem of hand-luggage restriction that Giovanna faced when she travelled.

Do you know which colours suit you best? Click here for The Morphbag free colour-analysis quiz.

Less is more

But The Morphbag by GSK is more than just a handbag solution for the busy multi-tasking woman.

For Giovanna, the experience of developing the brand fuelled a desire to transform her lifestyle, sparking a passion to live more sustainably and adhere to the principle that less is more.

She’s keen to inspire and empower women to lead a sustainable lifestyle – and this has led to the creation of a blog and newsletter where she share tips and tricks on all aspects of life, from simple styling conundrums to how to improve lifestyle balance. Sign up to newsletter here.

The Morph-Moment

Italian-born, and raised in a fashion industry family, it seems inevitable that Giovanna would end up in the world of fashion – nurturing a passion for sustainable style and inspiring others.

She’s called it her ‘Morph-Moment’ – that juncture in her life when she was inspired to ditch her high-powered career in finance and start a new career as a handbag designer and entrepreneur.

Through her own experiences, Giovanna has discovered that many women reach a point in their life when they have their own ‘Morph-Moment’, when they’re inspired to find new balance and lead a more sustainable lifestyle

And so she launched a series of interviews called “The Empowering Morph-Moment Interview Series” in which she interviews women who share inspirational life stories of their personal transformative change. Link here to watch.

Female empowerment is a core value for The Morphbag and the brand has partnered with Smart Works, a UK charity that aims to empower women to reach their full potential and find employment by providing clothing and coaching. Both share similar values and understand the importance of creating a community, helping, giving back, and enabling women to gain confidence through styling and to have their own ‘Morph-Moment’.

The importance of vegan leather

The need to create a better everyday handbag that empowers us to style ourselves effortlessly and helps us to navigate our busy days, was not Giovanna’s only Morph-Moment though.

During a trip to Brazil and the Amazon rainforest, Giovanna saw up close the devastation of deforestation caused by cattle farming. Last year, rainforests were being destroyed at a rate of 30 football pitches every minute.

The Amazon rainforest plays an important part in regulating the world’s oxygen and carbon cycles as it produces approximately 6% of the world’s oxygen and also acts as a carbon sink by readily absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Realising that this colossal devastation and impact on climate change was due largely to cattle farming, Giovanna decided that when it comes to leather goods, it was not necessary to use hide leather.

This conclusion challenged her to find a leather alternative that was vegan but that did not compromise on aesthetics or quality. After extensive researching and testing, she discovered a recycled PU leather that was coated and textured to feel and behave exactly like hide leather, but was totally ethical.

The Morphbag is Peta certified vegan and bears the Vegan Society Trademark. In addition, The Morphbag also plant one tree in the Amazon rainforest for every Morphabg sold through the OneTreePlanted programme to support reforestation efforts.

Choosing the planet

The Morphbag by GSK is intended to be more than just a fashion brand, but a lifestyle choice founded on four fundamental goals.

The first is to challenge the misconception that vegan leather compromises on look and quality – and, in doing so, to reduce the demand for animal leather and deforestation due to cattle farming.

Next up, The Morpghbag by GSK seeks to encourage sustainable shopping by producing a product that offers so much versatility that it minimises the need to shop by serving different uses or styling purposes. Less shopping has an even bigger environment impact than smart shopping.

Third, is the empowerment of women – by tailoring handbag designs to their multi-tasking lifestyle and to their desire for effortless style.

And finally, The Morphbag aims to build a community of women that empowers women by creating a platform that facilitates the sharing of inspirational personal stories.

The Morphbag by GSK is a proud member of the Conscious Fashion Campaign which is set to promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) within the Fashion Industry.

The Conscious Fashion Campaign represents a unified language and framework for the Fashion Industry aimed at responsible production and consumption.

There are 17 SDGs in total and The Morphbag has identified four SDGs as key drivers for its own business, more specifically key targets that align with the business model and desired impact.

These are:

1.  SDG12 Responsible Production and Consumption

2.  SDG13 Climate Action

3.  SDG15 Life on Land

4.  SDG17 Partnerships for the Goals

You can find more information about The Morphbag’s specific targets and how they’re measured on their website in  Sustainability section.

The challenges

There’s no doubt about it, running a sustainable and ethical business committed to transparency is incredibly challenging. In many ways the company’s values restrict the ability to maximise profits, particularly with the core value of The Morphbag being a capsule wardrobe staple, encouraging women to shop consciously and ultimately buy less.

The Morphbag collection is also designed to be seasonless – and worn all year round. And with this slow-fashion philosophy in mind, the brand does not introduce new colours or designs each season. The handbags are designed to be timeless and adaptable. And that means there’s little-to-no repeat buying by customers, which most normal fashion businesses rely on.

Unlike non-sustainable brands, The Morphbag’s cost of customer acquisition is not amortised by the amount of sales per customers over a lifetime – they’re not re-targeting the same customer over-and-over again with new items.

While this may limit profits, it has netted several awards for the brand including the Best Slow Fashion Brand in 2020, Best Ethical Fashion Brand in 2021 and Best Sustainable Fashion Brand in 2022.

Producing sustainably also comes at higher costs as production workers are guaranteed fair wages, and a safe work environment is monitored.

The Morphbag also produce small quantities to reduce waste. They produce only what they know will sell, which is why companies that are not greenwashing and truly run their business sustainably, do not have sales.

The Morphbag never has stock that needs to be shifted, and the profit margins are always tight.

So, the key challenge is profitable growth – getting consumers to put their money where their mouth is and make the extra effort to be sustainable, conduct the research or pay the extra pounds to support truly sustainable small businesses when large, fast-fashion is so accessible.

Opportunities

Giovanna seeks to empower and support women to lead a sustainable lifestyle beyond fashion through her blog and newsletter – creating a beautiful community of engaged like-minded women. This helps her with the development of future designs and is a wonderful direct source of exchange and inspiration. In a world of over consumption in every aspect of life, through communication with customers, it gives Giovanna the opportunity to create with purpose and expand her vision through word of mouth … and hopefully create a wave of conscious shopping behaviour.

And finally

For anyone who’s had their ‘Morph-Moment’ and are debating whether to dare to jump into entrepreneurship, Giovanna has some advice. It’s a bumpy ride, she says, full of ups and downs – but if your ideas are born out of passion and you have conducted the necessary market research to ascertain that there is a niche for your product or service and you are filled with energy and passion, do not hesitate. Go for it with commitment, perseverance, hard work and passion.

Never take the word “no” as an answer, she says. If someone says “no”, you need to find another way to get what you asked for and turned the “no” into a “yes”.

Check out The Morphbag by GSK  website to explore the collection, blog and more.

Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

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