Last night I heard a talk form Kresse Wesling MBE at the Chivas Venture, a woman who in her own words, is 'obsessed with trash'. She is now a co-founder of an incredibly successful luxury brand that makes products using only recycled materials and I was so inspired after leaving the event last night that I had to share the story of Elvis & Kresse.
So in 2005, after a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade, Elvis & Kresse discovered fire hose for the first time. After 25 years or so, all fire hose gets 'retired' and was, after becoming too old or damaged, simply going to landfill. Upon hearing this, Elvis & Kresse decided that the hose was too beautiful with too much left still to give, to simply go to the scrap heap.
So they decided to recycle it, working with skilled craftspeople to create luxury fashion pieces in the shape of belts, bags and accessories. They then decided that they wanted to give back to their 'suppliers' and they pledged to donate 50% of all the profits from the firehose range to The Fire Fighters Charity.
Since then the company has only crown and now uses a range of recycled products to create the products that they sell. Parachute silk makes an ideal living for bags and wallets, tea sacks are recycled to make their packaging, auction banners are used for the lining of their bigger bags and leather is used for everything.
The European luxury industry produces 35,000 tonnes of leather waste each year, normally just in scraps and offcuts. Elvis & Kresse have designed a system that transforms smaller scraps into components, creating bags, chairs and even rugs out of them.
Kresse last night, speaking at The Venture, shared some horrifying statistics about waste in the fashion industry: of the 1.13 million tonnes of clothing waste in the UK each year, 31% goes to landfill and 7% is incinerated. It is second only to oil in terms of industrial pollution and the most shocking to me? That 30% of clothing hasn't been worn in a year.
I had no idea that the fashion industry was so wasteful and I don't think that I am alone in that. This is why I wanted to put this brand onto your radar and hope that it will make all of us think twice next time we buy something new! I hope Elvis & Kresse are able to set a precedent for the rest of the industry by using their business as a force for good.