The fashion industry is very dynamic. When it comes to fashion, all sorts of unusual and unexpected materials can be turned to statement fashion pieces while still bringing quality, durability and sustainability to the table.
Over the years, we have seen fashion designers come up with new and innovative ways of doing fashion. Mi Terro makes clothes from milk, Petit Pli develops clothes that grow with children, Thousand Fell makes footwear from materials like aloe vera, sugar cane, and coconut husks, and Article 22 makes jewellery from shrapnel and scrap metal.
The Elvis and Kresse fashion brand is yet another brand making fashion items from unusual items.
Founded in 2005 by co-founders Kresse and Elvis, the eponymous fashion brand, Elvis and Kresse, is a sustainable luxury accessories brand that makes fashion accessories from items like repurposed fire-hose, parachute silk, printing blanket, coffee and tea sacks, and many more.
The brand was born when co-founder Kresse Wesling had a chance encounter with the London Fire Brigade and discovered that London’s decommissioned fire hoses end up in landfills. To rescue them, Elvis and Kresse was set up.
“I thought – this is where I can put all of my energy and creativity and prove that waste doesn’t have to be wasted. So, we didn’t set out to start Elvis & Kresse in any way, we set out to save London’s fire hoses from going to landfill.” – Kresse Wesling.
Unlike most designers that start with a concept or vision, Elvis and Kreese work completely backwards. They start with a waste problem and then research and develop products best suited for that material. For over a decade none of London’s fire-hose has gone to landfill, because of their work, and over 200 tons of material has been reclaimed.
The brand ventured into using leather off-cuts for some of their pieces in 2010 when they discovered the number of good leather off-cuts that went to landfills because they were considered too small to use. They developed a system that could put this leather to good use in making bags, rugs, and upholstery.
In 2017, the brand entered into a 5-year partnership with Burberry Foundation to solve the problem the vast amounts of waste created through the production of leather goods causes. The brand uses the off-cuts of Burberry leather for this partnership. They also donate 50 per cent of their profits to charities.
Elvis and Kresse, Its Materials, and Sustainability
The materials Elvis and Kresse uses are recycled to make high-quality luxury goods. In total, the brand uses 8 major materials for their items; fire-hose, parachute silk, printing blanket, leather, coffee sacks, shoe boxes, tea sacks, and suction banners.
Their handbag, wallet, purse and belt pieces are made mainly from decommissioned fire-hoses (after they have been turned into an alternative textile product) and handwoven leather off-cuts. Some of their belts are made from printing blankets. The linings used in these bags, purses and wallets are made from parachute silk and auction banners.
When it comes to tags and packaging, these sustainable reclaimed materials also come into good use. The string from their swing tags are made from coffee sacks and their packaging and labels are made from flattened unwanted shoe boxes. Finally, the tea sacks are used to make their packaging, mailing pouches and to print all of their brochures.
Through their practices, Elvis and Kresse has been able to not only save unwanted materials from going to landfills and wreaking havoc to the environment, but they have also been able to create durable products. By combining recycled materials with quality and durability, they are a fashion brand that is well involved in sustainable practices.
Since they also produce each item in small quantities and use leather offcuts, they help reduce the waste of the fashion industry.
Implications of Running a Sustainable Fashion Accessories Brand
The world, and fashion as we know it, is shifting more towards sustainability as time goes on. This means that for a fashion brand to stay relevant in the long run, its practices have to be sustainable.
“Using recycled materials to make handbags is good and creative as it helps to regulate and manage resources well. It also prevents waste. For example, there is this head gear that is used in making bags now, it has been out of fashion and most people either don’t have it anymore or have disposed it.” – Mojirola Olatunbosun, Creative Director of House of Rólar.
With growing concerns over the environment and the negative impact the current practices in the fashion industry have on the environment and wildlife, customers are searching more for sustainable products.
For Elvis and Kresse, their sustainable practices have endeared the conscious consumer and design-focused customers who like the aesthetic and durability of their products to their brand.
Any fashion brand that is leaning more towards sustainability in their practices will surely stay ahead of the trends and draw more customers in.
2. Cost and Speed of Production
Sustainable fashion is slow fashion. With slow fashion, brands produce their fashion items in fewer quantities and this results in less waste. Slow fashion also translates to less cost for fashion brands.
3. Finishing and Design
Since sustainable fashion involves creating durable products to reduce the number of items that end up in landfills, sustainable fashion brands usually produce items with great finishing and timeless designs. This means that sustainable fashion brands have a high taste in quality and design and they deliver on it all the time.
Overall, going sustainable in fashion is a win-win situation for all – the brand, the customers, and the environment.