In a world where pineapples can become leather and plastic bottles can become rain coats, repurposing waste has become one of the central tenets of sustainable design. It takes research, vision and a lot of innovation to close the loop but it’s not always the science or the engineering that intrigues me; sometimes it’s the stories.
When I first stumbled across Wyatt & Jack on Instagram, I was obviously struck by their brighter than bright palette but it was their fabric of choice that really drew me in. Through their bags, crafted from upcycled beach chair canvas and the PVC of retired bouncy castles, the brand weave stories of sun-drenched days at the seaside and birthday parties that you never wanted to leave. Their choice of fabric doesn’t need purifying, extracting or regenerating but that doesn’t dampen the spirit of problem-solving or creativity that encapsulates their process.
It all started in 2010 when founder Georgia was sharing a workshop with a friend’s father; a beach concessionaire on the Isle of Wight, where Wyatt & Jack is based. She was asked to strip the sunbeds in order to take the metal to the scrapyard and decided to make a bag from the leftover PVC. An idea was born.
So from that first spark, was Wyatt & Jack created as a vehicle to tap into the sustainable style market? For Georgia, marketing under the umbrella of sustainability or ethical fashion doesn’t come into the equation, it’s all just common sense:
Surely it’s obvious not to throw something away before you’ve decided whether or not it can be used again?
It’s this approach that informs her medium of choice. After discovering that so much canvas and PVC was being throw away at the end of each season and making that first bag, she set out to preserve and reuse the fabric. And as for bouncy castles? A logical progression, Georgia tells me. And I can see the connection, both deckchairs and bouncy castles share a sense of nostalgia and childhood fun. After she spotted one at a local fair, she asked about what happened to them when they broke and they were soon added to the fabric repertoire.
No longer limited to the local coastline, Wyatt & Jack bags are made from fabric sourced from locations across the UK. The distinctive stripy canvas and vibrant PVC is cut and stitched into beach bags, totes and bike bags; their practical pasts rendering them hardier than your average handbag.
While Georgia doesn’t buy into buzzwords, her brand is certainly underpinned by a unmistakably sustainable perspective. Customer orders are sent out in brown paper sacks – with no tape – which can be used again or recycled. And wholesale orders are shipped in banana boxes from the local shop. The only bit of branding in sight is a Wyatt & Jack sticker which doubles as a returns label. It doesn’t come down to appealing to a certain audience or accessing a particular market, it’s just upholding a lifestyle and a set of values that make the most sense for the planet.
To that end, Wyatt & Jack recently announced their partnership with Mossy Earth, a social enterprise which aims to promote carbon offsetting and rewilding through the planting of native trees. For every £14.50 in sales, a tree will be planted, resulting in the creation of a Wyatt & Jack forest.
This is a brand that’s out to change people’s perspective. Their bags are made in Britain, not outsourced for less financial outlay; they choose integrity over branding; they design bags to last not to drive future sales and they use their profits to support a healthier planet. By turning to such an unlikely source from which to craft their bags, they’ve saved over 13 tonnes of fabric from landfill. That’s a pretty serious accomplishment for a brand whose bags are intrinsically bound in fun. Shop Wyatt & Jack on their website and Etsy.
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