What was once old is now new again.
Brianne Olsson, designer and owner of “Anything Goes Vinyl” in Kingston, N.Y., takes old vinyl records and redesigns it into one-of-a-kind handbags, purses and earrings.
Olsson is part of a growing movement of artisans who are repurposing and “upcycling” different types of items and materials into fashion accessories and home decor. This trend is resonating with Millennials in particular who are attracted by the movement’s sustainability and authenticity.
Etsy, for example, now has more than 40,000 products featured as “up-cycled, recycled and repurposed.” The products range from camera straps made from old car seat belts and men’s silk ties resewn into women’s headbands to tote bags made from old jeans and boho dresses crafted from various recycled apparel.
“I can take things that were once headed to the landfill and transform it, and give it new life,” Olsson said of her creations.
Olsson describes her move into the business as accidental. Several years ago, after her stepfather, Tom Kennedy had passed away, she was rummaging through his workshop – which was full of power tools. Olsson started tinkering around and soon found herself making handbags and purses as well as clocks, decorative bowls and earrings — all made from vinyl records that were destined for the dumpster.
Aside from her shop and studio, Olsson sells on Etsy as well as at local craft and artisan events across the Hudson Valley. Her entry into the market comes at a time when vinyl records are making a resurgence. In 2015, vinyl records had a record year, rising 32 percent to $416 million. The Recording Industry Association of America said vinyl is the fastest-growing segment in the industry. Retailers that now carry vinyl records includes Urban Outfitters and Barnes & Noble.
In Kingston, there are two specialty music shops that carry vinyl including Rocket Number Nine and Rhino Records. Olsson acknowledged that the growing interest is helping to fuel interest in her designs, which involve taking a classic vinyl record — think a pressing from Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin or the Grateful Dead — and converting it into a handbag fastened with rivets or lug nuts. The vinyl is double-coated with industrial polyurethane, and the straps are made of either leather of chain.
“None of these things are going to biodegrade in our lifetime — not one of them,” Olsson said. “If it is not going to biodegrade, why not make something that is fashionable and functional?”
Olsson stresses that nothing goes to waste. In creating the handbags, the vinyl trimmings are used to make earrings, she noted. “The entire record album is used,” she said.
The use of nuts, bolts and rivets give the designs an industrial feel. But the technique is done for another reason. “It’s because I don’t know how to sew — and I make pocketbooks,” Olsson said acknowledging that the aesthetic is also a nod to her mother, who used to work as a steamfitter.
Price points for the handbags range from $60 to $125. Earrings, accessories and home decor products range from $5 to $30. Olsson said many of her orders are for custom-made products.
“Music is very personal, so people come to me with specific records that they want to convert,” she said.