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Leather Jacket Upcycling

September 21, 2009

Upcycling, if you haven’t heard of it, means the re-use of already-existing materials to create something new. So instead of melting down tin cans to make more cans, one would cut up the tin cans to make a piece of art. Because the already-existing materials aren’t re-processed, it’s generally less energy-intensive and therefore more efficient than recycling.

The first I heard of this concept being applied to old leather jackets was by the designer Ashley Watson. Her eco-chic designs have been sold mainly through small boutiques and seem to have helped popularize the transformation of leather jackets into bags. She certainly managed to help inspire me to experiment with turning unfashionable leather products into new items. Now there are a number of designers doing the same thing. Leather lends itself well to re-fashioning because it’s sturdy and long-lasting, but fairly cheap to obtain used. Utilizing vintage leather reduces the demand for eco-unfriendly new leather products, and helps ensure that no two bags are exactly alike. Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite re-used leather bag producers.

Ashley Watson has some lovely new designs out for this fall. I especially love the shape of the Linnet bag

…and the Tern bag.

Hoakon/Helga is an etsy seller who makes really stylish bags that often combine vintage fabric with leather.
I love this purple one.

This bow clutch is also really cute.

Patkas seems to stock mostly simple clutches, with a few larger bags too.

ReFind Originals is another Etsy seller. Her ruffly Arabella shoulder bag looks like it would be great for fall.

ReMade USA is a line made in San Francisco with bags named after local streets and neighborhoods. They’ve even got linings made from salvaged vintage scarves–what a great idea. If you’re so inclined, this photo set of their process could almost serve as a DIY tutorial for making your own bag. Or you can send them a jacket of your own and they’ll give you a $20 discount on the custom bag they make for you.

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