Friday, 15 April 2011

Alchemy Goods - upcycling at its uber cool best...

Alchemy Goods Urban Messenger Bag

For us, there will always be a special place in our hearts for Alchemy Goods. At the very start of our onfriday journey, we knew how exceptional these young upcycling designers were, however when we talked about our plans with friends and family you could just tell what they were thinking. Their eyes gave it away! The word ‘bag’ isn’t exactly a sexy word at the best of times. Add to that the word ’ethical’ and you can guarantee they were visualising their jute shopping bags shoved away in the car boot ready for the next Sainsbury’s shop. We realised we had a bit of an image problem going on! Enter Alchemy Goods. We went everywhere armed with pictures of their upcycled bags. This is what it’s all about, we would say, great cutting edge design and it’s green too. It worked, people started to ‘get it’.

Phew, we hadn’t lost our marbles after all...

Alchemy Goods Magnolia Handbag
People say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and that’s exactly how Seattle-based Alchemy Goods got started. Eli, founder of Ag, had his messenger bag stolen. Finding the perfect replacement however was proving to be impossible.  Being a lad with a pad, there were always extra bike inner tubes lying around his apartment, so Eli set about building the perfect bag out of stuff he already had. The first prototype was born on his home sewing machine. It wasn’t perfect, but it was exactly what he needed. It didn’t take long before most of his friends wanted one too. Then local bike shops caught a glimpse and expressed interest. Each bag improved over the last. Word spread and demand grew and grew, which led to the founding of Alchemy Goods.

Alchemy Goods Union Backpack
While medieval alchemists sought to turn lead into gold, Alchemy Goods turn useless stuff like blown-out inner tubes and old seatbelts destined for landfill into useful stuff like bags. They source their inner tubes from Seattle bike shops. Each inner tube has distinctive details, like patches, logos and various textures, making each bag’s exterior truly unique. The inner tubes are carefully checked for holes. Any blemishes that affect quality, such as punctures or glue, are removed. The tubes are then cut open, washed and stitched together, creating the bag’s weatherproof shell. They develop a finish over time that gives them the soft feeling of fine Italian leather. And they’re 100% waterproof and virtually stain proof too, so you can keep your stuff dry whatever the weather.

They then scour local junkyards in search of car seatbelts. Each seatbelt is inspected for quality before being cleaned, splayed open and integrated in to the bag’s design to form the strong, distinctive shoulder strap. These straps are far more comfortable than traditional messenger bag straps because they’re wider and constructed of soft nylon material.

Alchemy Goods Pike Messenger Bag
Those of you with an eye for detail will have noticed the logos stitched to the bags have a small number in the upper right corner. This tiny number has big significance. It represents the percent (by weight) of upcycled material that goes into each product. Alchemy Goods strive to make this number as high as possible by incorporating as much upcycled material as they can. So you can show off this mark with pride!

Each bag is assembled by hand in their Seattle workshop, a true work of art. So, we’d like to thank whoever it was who stole Eli’s bag – if it wasn’t for you who knows whether we’d still have our marbles...