To me, the handbag is almost equatable to a best friend: when you find a good one, one that you can take everywhere, goes with every outfit, can always handle whatever you've got going on, it is impossible to replace.
But have you ever thought through what goes into making a new handbag, both ethically and environmentally? Of course, there are many, MANY artisans (like one of my favourites Nancy Bird) that don't faux pax on the ethical front, but it takes a large amount of energy and often pollutants to produce new materials.
Lucky for us, there are some great upcycling efforts going on on the bag front!
Side note: Whilst researching this category, I came across a lot of "upcycled" bags that really should be sold as "altered" or "recycled" bags. Upcycling is about reclaiming a material and creating something other than what it was. You wouldn't get a milk bottle, put a decal on it, still call it a milk bottle and call it upcycled.
Salvation Sack Episode 3: miniXL
SalvationSacks came into existence in 2002 when its creator, Margaret, was doing a Spring clean and had an epiphany about what to do with the sentimental, vintage, amazing items of clothing and bits.
The bag above is made from
recycled leather + suede miniskirts
vintage/recycled ties from the 1950s to 1990s (vary)
vintage/recycled textiles + leather remnants
recycled belt buckle as adornment (varies leather
belt as a strap
It's great to see this being done outside of the realms of Etsy & MadeIt
Margaret stocks some shapes that I hadn't yet seen in my travels such as the bowler bag.
Purse in Boots operates out of Goshen in the US, Purse in Boots creates bags from discarded Cowboy boots. There are some gems in there!
These have quite a unique shape and a great vintage feel with that asset of upcycled leather: the preloved feel.
Mina + Oli
“I find it a romantic thinking about the history the leather might have once had - who wore it? - where has it traveled? - was it a cherished item? It's also great to be able to recycle and give a new life to materials that might have ended up in a landfill."
"I think fashion should be fun, I love the little details, to open your bag and have a great colorful print inside always makes me smile! A bag should be as exciting on the inside as out!”
I love this particular bag as it has that "I am so loved" feel that takes a good couple of years to get into a bag without the wear and tear on the zippers and other bits! It's also perfect for that every day bag that can be slung around with my favourite vintage look boots from Basque.
Based in Germany, check out the amazing ability to customise your bags at the Peace4You website (warning: it's in German but who cares... it's a visual thing!)
The ULTIMATE in upcycling in MHO comes from Ecoist. Ecoist create
handbags made from recycled candy wrappers, food packages, soda labels, subway maps, newspapers, and other waste-bound materials. They collect waste and turn it into functional, durable and eye-catching handbags that you will simply love to own.
These are interesting and although some are a bit... loud... there are some combinations that are really quite cool!
With an extensive background in studio art, Ashley brings an innovative and environmentally sound approach to fashion design, creating products that are practical, sophisticated, and, above all, distinctive.
Ashley Watson Recycled Leather bags and wallets are sold in stores across North America, and are now available in select stores in Europe, Asia and Australia.I can actually see the softness and quality of this leather in the images and I'm doing all I can not to call the one store that stocks them in Australia tomorrow.
Ashley's designs are intricate yet simple; classic yet funky and versatile and again have that "I've been loved" feel without the wear and tear on the rest of the bag. I'm in luuuurve!
And to think, I've only really touched on larger bags here with a tote or two... purses, make up bags, wallets... well they're a completely different kettle of fish to be explored soon... stay tuned!
Next: Pimping the Upcycled Pad