How do you combine a love of purses and a passion for animals? You create your own sustainable handbag line. Back in 2011, attorney Nora Baldwin was inspired to do so after spending an afternoon shopping for a luxury calfskin bag. She ended her search empty-handed—but with a newfound clarity on how animals were suffering to make the accessories she so adored.

Over the next three years, Baldwin took technical drawing classes and did extensive fabric sourcing in an attempt to find a better, more humane way of making on-trend carryalls. In 2014, she unveiled Viva Creatures, a cruelty-free line of architectural handbags made from refined, yet durable vegan materials such organic cotton and nylon microfiber, and punctuated with substantial gold hardware. VC even bucks the fast-fashion trend to focus on impeccable, American-made manufacturing and small runs.

(Discover more ways to shop ethically in Denver)

For Fall 2015, VC’s sculpted shapes are available in a wide-ranging palette of grays, making them an elegant accent to the season’s dark neutrals, berry shades, and hunter greens. My pick is the Valkyrie cross-body bag ($315). It has ample room to hold all your valuables with its double-body construction, and the sophisticated V-shape on the front is a subtle reminder that style can also have substance.

Buy It: A Line Boutique, 5375 Landmark Place, Greenwood Village, 303-773-8200,; Goldyn, 2040 W. 30th Ave., 720-489-0580,; and

Follow fashion editor Georgia Benjou on Twitter at @gabenjou, Pinterest at /gabenjou, and Instagram at /gabenjou.