Ivory Station

New brand The Gusto makes stylish and utilitarian vegan leather bags

New brand The Gusto makes stylish and utilitarian vegan leather bags

Style with a purpose with The Gusto’s premium, vegan leather bags that are perfect for working millennial women. 

As I pen this interview, I go back to 2019, when I wrote about one of the biggest fashion news ever. Prada had joined Gucci and Coach in banning the usage of animal fur, responding to the worldwide criticism it had been getting for being an environmentally cruel and unsustainable brand. For a brand as huge as Gucci that can do a lot more to positively impact the planet, the declaration fur seemed like minimal effort.

But that announcement helped several fashion houses and designers realise that sustainability is the way forward because consumers are rallying for it. Brands are opting for raw materials drawn from agricultural waste, recycled plastic and even pineapple leaves.

One such flag-bearer in the still nascent ethical and vegan leather handbag and fashion industry in India is The Gusto, launched in 2019. Founded by Mansi Gambhir, the brand makes smart, fashionable, and high-quality vegan leather products. In the cart are stylish bags, totes, wallets, and laptop sleeves.

The brand’s alternative to conventional leather comes from sustainable materials such as organic cotton linings. “Every year, more than a billion animals are cruelly killed for their skins. Vegan leather, on the other hand, offers the same luxurious appearance without causing harm to the environment,” says Mansi.

She fields some business questions from Ivorystation.

What inspired you to start a vegan handbag business?
I am an engineer and have over 10 years of corporate experience in multinationals. As a working professional, I always believed that my work bag was my true companion. Even though women usually have multiple bags, the work bag is usually just one. To me, my bag is an extension of my personality, and that’s exactly what we strive to create in our bags.

Apart from that, I like my bags to be organised, and I wanted to solve the problem of people having to carry multiple bags to work. This gave birth to The Gusto. Choosing vegan materials was an obvious choice because I do not believe that animals should be harmed to achieve our fashion goals. Since the world is moving towards sustainability, I decided to choose high-quality, strong, durable materials that are cruelty-free as well.

The brand was launched a little before Covid. Tell us how has your business journey been so far?
In two words, the journey of our brand has been encouraging and rewarding. Since its inception, in the year 2019, we were aware that the beginning of the year for any new business is always a learning phase. And due to snap lockdowns, we faced a number of challenges and our business slowed down, however, we managed to surpass them, overcome them, and move forward.

Vegan leather bag

The Gusto Tan Tote bag

What does The Gusto mean?
With our functionally rich bags, The Gusto stands for enthusiasm.

What is your design ethos?
Simple, minimal design integrated with high functionality and utility.

vegan leather bags

The Gusto Croco Junie Bag

What are the top things you consider when designing bags?
When we design bags for our customers, we make sure to add first the purpose of that bag. Furthermore, we define the utility of the bag, even when it is as small as a purse, as this is an extremely important process. And a third step is the quality of the materials, we never compromise it; we only work with premium materials in leather, linings, and accessories.

Tell us about the vegan leathers you work with?
Our products are all made with 100% cruelty-free vegan leather. Durable polymers, canvases, and sustainable materials, such as organic cotton linings. These are, both, fashionable and vegan.

vegan leather bags

The Gusto Dione Bag

What are your favourite materials?
I prefer vegan leather with plating; it’s durable and attractive. Also, I love thick canvas bags. In fact, we are about to launch a complete line of canvas bags.

Do you think the conventional leather will phase out soon?
I think so. People will, however, take some time to accept and warm up to vegan leather fashionable bags.

Being a young startup, how do you manage competition?
The competition keeps us on our toes and keeps us striving for excellence. It keeps us motivated and helps us meet our goals. Having repeat customers is our biggest reward.

Who is your community?
Our consumers range in age from 18 to 40 years old. We have bags that work for working professionals as well as students. I believe the brand places a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of millennial working women.

vegan leather bags

The Gusto Sling Bag

Can you talk a little more about the disconnect between this group of buyers with existing premium/luxury brands?
For us, the utility of our products is of utmost importance. Our intention is to solve the problems that working professionals face such as creating one bag that fits in everything from a woman’s makeup essentials to her gadgets. For most brands, fashion is a priority, but for us, it is as important as a utility.

What questions do you most commonly get asked about vegan leather bags? 
Will they be able to hold the weight of our laptop? The answer is yes. Our bags are very sturdy and ergonomically designed so you won’t get tired of carrying your laptop and other essentials over your shoulder.

What are you most excited about for 2022?
We have loads in store for this year. Our goal is to spread our wings in different counties, both, online and offline, and reach a wider audience in India. This year, we will release many new styles of bags.

Where all do you retail currently?
Our online store is in India and the UAE. The products are also available on Amazon, Flipkart, Ajio, and Nykaa.

Also read: Gorgeous Aditi Rao Hydari talks about her prized possession, favourite watch and a city she is yearning to visit