Friday, 25 March 2011

Made for one purpose, not used, then dumped in landfill. Seatbelts - the ultimate eco-friendly bag?

It’s now just over 50 years since the first three-point seatbelt was invented by Volvo's safety engineer Nils Bohlin. His invention has now gone on to save millions of lives worldwide however we wonder whether even the highly inventive and very talented Mr Bohlin could have predicted just how versatile the seatbelt would become.

In the motor industry, miles upon miles of seatbelt material is produced each year. It must satisfy the highest of automotive standards before it can be used to make a car seatbelt. Unfortunately not all seatbelt material makes the grade so tonnes of it end up in landfill each year and will languish there for possibly thousands of years.

Harveys Treecycle Large Tote
These discarded seatbelts might not satisfy the stringent standards of the motor industry but they do meet the needs of Harvey’s talented design team and their Treecycle range of seatbelt bags. It all began back in 1997, when husband and wife, Dana and Melanie Harvey, were installing seatbelts into their 1950’s Buick. They hit upon an idea - why not use some of their spare seatbelt material and turn it into a bag. When friends and family saw the end result they all wanted one of their own.  So Dana and Melanie decided to make a few more and then a few more – soon they were selling like hot cakes! Out of their small garage in California grew the very first seatbelt bag company and they haven’t looked back since.

Today, Harveys now lead the field in the design and manufacture of seatbelt bags and are based in a design studio in Santa Ana, California. They have an extensive range of seatbelt bags but there is one particular range that stands out for us at onfriday – the Treecycle range. They take genuinely discarded seatbelts direct from the motor industry, weave them up and add some custom hemp lining to create a unique bag that is as eco-friendly as you can possibly get.

No two Treecycle seatbelt bags are exactly the same so if you want a bag that’s going to make you stand out from the crowd, it’s got to be a Harveys seatbelt bag – the original and still the best!

Click here to view onfriday's full range of Harveys Treecycle seatbelt bags

Friday, 4 March 2011

Life after Fashion Week... let's get authentic.

One of the really exciting things about our onfriday adventure is that we are starting to work with some incredibly talented and passionate young designers. Ethical fashion is still in its infancy, which means there are very few old hands or really big players in the business who dominate current thinking or determine future direction.

Unlike much of mainstream fashion where the bottom line is often a top line priority and so much practice pushes both our moral and ethical boundaries, we are starting to discover a growing number of truly remarkable young people who are successfully combining cutting edge design with an genuine commitment to and deep understanding of the concept of ethical production and fair trade. 

Laura Queening is a perfect example of that. Having graduated from Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion in 2007, Laura established Aura Que a year later following the success of her graduate collection at the prestigious Drapers Award. So, with a passion for ethical fashion and her love of Nepal, Laura set about creating a production base in Kathmandu that would see her unique designs come to life.

Aura Que Bucket Bag in Brown
Her connection with Nepal started over six years ago when she taught English in a rural school in the south of the country for five months. Living with a local family, Laura soon became immersed in Nepalese culture, witnessing firsthand how the political situation had hit the country hard, stunting most development. So when Laura set up Aura Que, Nepal was a natural choice of country for the manufacture of her bags – a very practical and effective way of contributing to the country’s regeneration. 

All Aura Que materials are sourced in Nepal and each design is brought to life in a Nepalese factory that employs local people, some affected by disabilities, providing an income and security for themselves and their families. Aura Que only work with manufacturers who are members of IFAT, the International Fair Trade Association, which means that working environments are healthy and safe and workers receive a fair wage. Laura is also keen to encourage trade directly with small Nepalese family businesses too, so she’s working hard to build long term relationships with these skilled artisans based on the principles of fair trade.

So, rest assured, our wonderful Aura Que fair trade bags are packed full of goodness! Each individually hand-crafted bag is created using the best natural materials and fibres Nepal has to offer. Every Aura Que bag has its own unique story to tell, inspiring and uplifting, which only adds to its charm!