A group of established and emerging brands are pushing the boundaries on the British high street and beyond to create timeless pieces with accessible prices
Eco-Age founder Livia Firth and entrepreneur Miroslava Duma were on hand this week in London to celebrate Bottletop – a fashion brand that has built a business out of making luxury handbags from waste drinks cans – now opening its first flagship store on London’s Regent Street. Bottletop is unusual, not because it makes bags out of other people’s rubbish, or because the geek-meets-chic store will have the first zero-waste interior to be 3D printed from recycled plastic complete with a resident robot making customised bag charms and key rings while you wait – although that does clock up several USPs. No, Bottletop is unusual in that it does not put its profit margins first.
The brand was started in 2002 by friends Cameron Saul, 35, and Oliver Wayman, 33, as a charitable collaboration with Mulberry (the luxury fashion house that Saul’s father, Roger, founded). The first bag was made in Kenya from ring pulls and leather off-cuts, and was sold to create employment and improve lives in under-developed communities. Their atelier is now in Salvador, Brazil, where ring pulls are hand-crocheted on to certified zero-Amazon-deforestation leather, and they continue to produce an art-on-canvas collection in Kenya. It feeds 20% of profits (around £1m so far) back into the Bottletop Foundation to fund health and education projects in Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi and Ethiopia.