Sustainable practices can take many forms. In accessories, an increasing number of designers and brands have begun experimenting with reclaimed materials — making bags from scraps and objects that would have otherwise been discarded.
Paris-based accessories designer Amelie Pichard has pledged to use at least one new recycled material each year. Presently, she is working with deadstock fabric and hides as well as old wallpaper. The designer has also begun working with eel skins — a food waste leftover from sushi that can be treated to become a sustainable exotic skin that’s prized for its durability. “It’s easy to make beautiful things and I feel like it’s so old school not to pay attention to our planet situation. No designer should continue to ignore it,” she said. “It’s not easy to recycle anything, but life is not made to be easy. You don’t do selfish things just to fulfill your creative desires.”
Her words ring true in many new bag designs that recycle unexpected materials to make fashionable styles.
The French luxury linens house — famous for its bright prints — uses scraps leftover from its sheets and duvet covers to make an array of accessories. There are scrunchies and headbands, as well as cosmetic cases that easily double as an on-trend summer handbags — all crafted from the company’s trademark patterns.
The Swiss company was one of the first to recycle unorthodox materials. Founded in 1993, Freitag’s bags are constructed from the trucking tarps used throughout Europe to decorate and secure the sides of loading dock vehicles.
Emily Levine Milan
The upstart designer gained attention this year for her range of Dumpling bags made from reclaimed antique sari that Levine sources throughout India. She hand-ties the delicate fabrics in the traditional Japanese Furoshiki style and attaches bamboo handles for a globally inspired design.
The French designer found rolls of old wallpaper at Paris’ famous flea markets and applied them to her signature A-bag design — complete with a miniature crocodile figurine.
The Helsinki-based brand works to recycle materials native to the Nordic region. They have developed a leather created from salmon skins, applied to a variety of handbag designs.
The global luggage company’s “eco” range is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles — even down to the lining.
The Maine-based company turns sailboat sails into tote bags and weekenders. This year, it reached the mark of 7,000 sails recycled in its 12-year history.