Upcycling plastic to create to products isn’t so unusual these days. Adidas is now using recycled ocean trash to make some of its shoes, and brands like Athleta have us swimming in bathing suits made from recycled plastic and fishing nets.
But London-based handbag brand Elvis & Kresse is repurposing an unusual type of waste to construct its ultra-durable bags and accessories: decommissioned fire-hoses — an item that rarely (if ever) crosses the minds of environmentally conscious consumers.
Nearly fifteen years ago, founders James Henrit and Kresse Wesling had the opportunity to visit the London Fire Brigade and learned that over three tons of fire-hose waste went to the city’s landfills each year. The disposal of fire hoses posed a serious issue since the material used to create each one is meant to last for decades — meaning decomposition is a lengthy and difficult process.
The team behind Elvis & Kresse wanted to completely eliminate the landfill disposal of fire-hose materials by reclaiming and upcycling every damaged or old hose from the London Fire Brigade. Now, they make bags, accessories, and home goods that still smell like the fire hoses that were once used around the city for their Fire-Hose collection.
In 2017, the brand also partnered with The Burberry Foundation to collect leather scraps that weren’t used in the finished Burberry bags and accessories. Each scrap gathered from the factory is used along with the recycled fire hoses to create the items featured in the Fire and Hide collection.
The Fire-Hose Collection isn’t cheap considering how much labor goes into constructing each bag, but they are made to be durable enough to last a lifetime. You’ll spend around $200 for a medium cross-body bag, or $370 for a weekend bag. Of the money made from their sales, 50% of profits are donated back to charities — including ones that help firefighters cope with and heal from physical and mental health challenges, and others that work to better the people in poverty in rural areas.
I gathered some of my team members to test a few products from the Elvis & Kresse, and asked what they thought of the items they received. Find our reviews below.
Insider Picks reporter Amir Ismael tried the Compact Briefcase ($310.82):
Unlike the typical “premium leather” or “made from recycled plastic” bags that seem to be popping up everywhere, the Elvis & Kresse Compact Briefcase ($310.82) uses old fire hoses — something that you’d never expect to be repurposed. The briefcase is the perfect size to carry a laptop and other day-to-day essentials. Accessories made from fire hoses might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking to stand out, this fits the bill well. In addition to the unique look, the material is waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about water soaking through to your items inside.
Insider Picks social media associate Victoria Gracie tried the Purse ($136.76):
The quality of the Elvis & Kresse Purse (aka wallet) was great. It’s really durable and I can tell it will stand a lot of wear and tear. Using it was easy thanks to the convenience of the zip-around style, and it has plenty of room inside. One downfall was that I found the credit card slots to be stiff, and hard to get cards in and out of. This wasn’t ideal when I was trying to purchase my metro card with a long line of people behind me.
But what I appreciate most is the idea behind the brand. I love that the wallet is sustainable and made from a decommissioned red fire hose, saving it from being left at a landfill. I also love that the company donates 50% of the profits to charity! That’s a huge donation that I can stand behind.
Insider Picks reporter Connie Chen tried the West End Belt ($50.97):
I don’t usually wear belts, but when I do have to, I often find myself woefully unprepared and stuck with a less-than-durable one. The West End Belt ($50.97) is far from my usual reality, made with a textured, reclaimed material that’s both eye-catching and strong. Because of its unique rust-red color and antique brass buckle, I’ve found myself trying to incorporate it into more outfits than I would with any other belt.
Insider Picks intern Megan Foster tried the Tooley Tote MK II ($298.39):
I tried the Tooley Tote in the red fire-hose style. I knew from the start that it was going to be durable simply because it’s made out of material that’s literally meant to withstand intense use, but I didn’t realize how helpful it would be until I was caught in a downpour with my bag. Even after ten minutes of torrential rain, my Tooley Tote stayed strong and wiping it off was super easy.
The main compartment is spacious and I was able to fit my laptop, umbrella, notebook, water bottle, and makeup bag inside with room to spare. It also has an external pocket and a pocket on the inside that helped me keep my loose items (like my keys) in an accessible location.
Another neat part about receiving one of their bags is that it comes with a reclaimed silk dust bag — the company clearly prioritizes recycled materials from start to finish.
The bottom line:
Elvis & Kresse definitely stands out. Its Fire-Hose Collection features ultra-durable styles, and each product is unique — meaning no one in the world will have a bag that looks exactly the same. If you’re looking for a bag that will survive wear and tear for years on end, you’ll want to check these out. The overall look probably won’t sit well with everyone’s style, but the focus on sustainability and the company’s commitment to giving back to the community is an added plus if you do like the look of the bags.
Check out all the styles at Elvis & Kresse.
Credits: Business Insider