Every month, Sass Brown, an expert in ethical fashion, sustainability and craftsmanship, celebrates a fashion brand that takes a different and innovative approach or operates outside of major fashion systems and capitals. Brown is the former Dean of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and is now Dean of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation.
Elvis and Kresse is a UK-based company that has started to reuse fire hoses as their core material. As Sass Brown says: “Fire hoses are a very special raw material. They are disposed of very quickly due to health and safety issues, but are generally very durable.” As I explain, these fire hoses are used to create a wide variety of accessories, including bags, purses, and handbags. She describes the collection as “elegant and beautiful; they have a wonderful kind of patina and wear from use, which adds to the story.”
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Of course, using one material can limit a company’s growth, so over time Elvis and Chris started using other materials, including recycled blankets and banners. But perhaps most importantly, they are now using old skins. According to Brown, they have a particularly interesting way of working with this leather, since it’s mostly scraps. “They have a process in which they cut the leather into three different shapes, and then they fit perfectly together. They make mosaics that, when joined together, create texture to scale — an ingenious way of using very small pieces of fabric…” she adds: “They have texture.” Beautiful and definitely an opportunity for other companies to follow.
The company recently moved its headquarters from London to its 17-acre farm, New Barnes Farm, in Kent, with a focus on permaculture or regenerative farming. This step provides them with a foundation to constantly add new materials to their collection and advance their efforts around sustainable design.
Additionally, Elvis and Kresse continue to donate 50% of their profits to companies that focus on the materials they use, either through the carousel or through their farm. Sass Brown gives two examples: “The first and most obvious example is a donation to firefighters’ charities. Another example is that 50 percent of their mosaic use goes to Barefoot College to educate women in solar energy.” In general, the goal is to provide benefits and services that go beyond the products themselves in multiple ways.
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