Elvis & Kresse

Saving London's decommissioned fire hose

Problem

Retired not expired

Traditionally, design begins with an idea. For Elvis & Kresse, it begins with a problem.

In 2005, during a chance meeting with London Fire Brigade, they discovered that after 25 years, a fire hose is too damaged to repair and is retired from the service. After a distinguished career fighting fires and saving lives the hoses were destined for landfill.

Elvis & Kresse took that hose, scrubbed away the soot and grease that builds up after years of active duty and discovered a truly remarkable textile, and their story began.

Solution

Rescue mission

Fire hose is a robust material working in harsh environments. Elvis & Kresse found that this reclaimed material was perfect for making hardwearing luggage and other products to last a lifetime.

Elvis & Kresse focused on quality craftsmanship and classic, timeless design to honour the life-saving lives the materials once led.

But it was also key that the products were truly sustianbale and fire hose was just the beginning.

Together with the hose, to create their unique and handcrafted products, Elvis & Kresse also use: discarded leather scrips save from the European luxury industry (which produces 35,000 tonnes of waste each year), damaged parachute silks and old aution house banners for linings and single-use shoe boxes for product labels (which are tied onto produces using threads from old coffee sacks). Even their marketing materials are made from reclaimed materials, printing brochures onto the craft paper that makes non-recyclable tea sacks.

For Elvis & Kresse, it's not enough simply to give an old fire hose a useful life. They want to transform it, make it desirable and useful in and of itself. The product has to be something you would want even if it were not recycled.

Impact

Leaving a legacy

Elvis & Kresse believe in the notion of good business and dream of a time without landfill, when everything is recycled or composted. Their business was established to solve environmental problems. They started with fire hoe and now reclaim more than 10 different materials. They choose materials with a story and do everything they can to ensure their second life is as long as possible.

They are constantly searching for more materials to grow their range of bags, belts and wallets, and have rescued over 165 tonnes from landfill so far.

50% of profits go to projects and charities related to the unique materials they reclaim, including the Fire Fighters Charity, WWF, Help for Heroes, Comic Relief an British Forces Foundation.

Through an initiative in which they made shopping bags for Sainsbury's from old coffee sacks, they have also made donations to CafeDirect, the Costa Foundation, David Williamson Rwanda Foundation, Bettys and Taylors and Union Hand Roasted.

Elvis & Kresse have two measure of success beyond their bottom line: how much waste they are able to divert from landfill and how much money they are able to give back to charity, and each measure is of equal importance.

Visit the Elvis & Kresse website.

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