Hoses to handbags, leather to luxury – meet Elvis & Kresse
Ever since David Attenborough brought the planet’s plastic problem to the forefront on Blue Planet II, sustainability has quickly become the word on everyone’s lips.
In a world where fast fashion and throwaway culture has shockingly become the norm, the multi-award-winning company Elvis & Kresse is redefining luxury and changing the perceptions of otherwise discarded materials – standing defiant in the face of trends and seasons, and instead inspiring a new culture of “think twice, buy once”.
The Elvis & Kresse story
In 2005, Kresse Wesling MBE had a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade. She immediately had a very emotional response to their damaged, decommissioned fire hose.
This once life-saving material was simply too heroic and too beautiful to end up in landfill. Why was it being thrown away? Simply put, the material is a complex composite, meaning it can’t be shredded, melted, or recycled.
Somebody had to do something, and those somebodies were Elvis & Kresse (Kresse and her partner James – aka Elvis – Henrit).
They mounted a rescue, and over the last 13 years have managed to save all of London’s fire hoses. They transform them into a range of stunning sustainable luxury bags and accessories, while donating 50% of their profits to The Fire Fighters Charity.
From the first day, Elvis & Kresse – listed in our Directory here – had a unique DNA: rescue, transform, donate.
How it works
Elvis & Kresse don’t “recycle” per se. The raw materials they use are niche and, more often than not, would end up in landfill because of their complex unrecyclable make-up.
The company cleverly redefines these materials by cherishing them, honouring them, and embedding unbelievable levels of craftsmanship and design into them, ensuring that their next life is a full and valuable one.
They are re-engineers who design for utility, not for seasons or trends. They are also committed to repairing any of their products, further prolonging their life as much as possible.
Over the last 13 years, Elvis & Kresse has grown to tackle more than 15 unique materials, from tea sacks to printing blankets, parachute silk to auction banners, fire hoses to leather – always with the same methodology.
They have developed a unique voice in the luxury industry and have become the go-to sustainable brand. Having solved their initial mission to save all of London’s fire-hose from going to landfill, they knew it was time to take on a bigger challenge.
So, last year they took on such a challenge – the 800,000 tonnes of leather off-cuts that are generated each year by the global leather industry.
Tackling leather waste
When leather crafters make their leather goods, even when patterns are carefully planned to maximise the hide, the traditional process inevitably creates off-cuts.
These are high-quality, unused, freshly tanned and dyed leathers, which fall to the workshop floor as seemingly unusable pieces. These pieces are usually either sent to landfill, or in many cases incinerated.
Elvis & Kresse took it upon themselves to design a system that transforms these fragments into individual components, which are then hand woven into a new kind of hide; one that is unrestricted by size or shape.
Essentially, this system is ‘designed for deconstruction’, and is a big step towards a more circular economy.
In November 2017, Elvis & Kresse launched a five-year partnership with the Burberry Foundation to scale their leather waste solution. To mark the announcement, Kresse said:
“When we decided to tackle the much, much larger leather problem, we knew we would need a brave partner. We are grateful for the support of the Burberry Foundation and are truly excited to scale this solution and magnify its impact.
“This is the kind of work we are made for, and this is the kind of partnership that will change the future of luxury.”
Elvis & Kresse’s sustainable luxury pieces have been worn by celebrities like Cameron Diaz, and have featured in award-winning luxury fashion magazines such as Vogue, Trend Privé Magazine, The Sunday Times Style, and The Financial Times’ How to Spend It.
Most recently, they were featured on the BBC for their innovative zero-waste designs, philanthropy, and pioneering innovations on reducing waste.
To date, Elvis & Kresse have saved over 200 tonnes of material from landfill. Through their new five-year partnership, they will see at least a further 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts from the production of Burberry leather goods recrafted into new luxury items, designed and sold by Elvis & Kresse.
With their motto of “do good, be better” it is clear to see why this sustainable luxury company is growing from strength to strength. Give their incredibly ingenious and gorgeous pieces a look by visiting the Elvis & Kresse website today.