Ethical Shopping

This company makes luxury bags out of old fire hoses and parachutes

Elvis & Kresse rescues raw materials and transforms them into luxury accessories. Parachute silk, fire hoses, shoe boxes - you name it, the team recycles it.

Elvis & Kresse makes bags and homeware out of recycled materials such as fire hoses. Image: Elvis & Kresse

Our Meet the Maker series returns with a bang, as we catch up with Kresse Wesling of Elvis & Kresse.

She tells us about how her B Corp uses 15 recycled materials to create bags and homeware – and donates half of all profits to charity.

What can we find on your part of The Big Issue Shop?

In our part of The Big Issue Shop you can find our story, you can meet our cofounder Elvis, and you can see the essential pieces that make up our rescued fire-hose collection.  

How do your products make a positive difference in the world?

Our products are made with rescued materials, heroic materials like damaged, decommissioned fire-hoses that would otherwise go to landfill. By choosing rescued materials we are both eliminating a waste and also proving that something doesn’t have to be ‘new’ to be beautiful. We also donate 50 per cent of our profits to charity. In the case of the fire-hose collection, 50 per cent of the profits are donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.

What inspired you to start your company and how did it start?

I fell in love with Duraline hoses the moment I saw them, in 2005, piled up on a rooftop at a fire station in Croydon, awaiting an imminent and undignified death in landfill.

Fire hoses are decommissioned for one of two reasons, they either reach the 25-year end of their health and safety life or they are too damaged to repair. They either miraculously survive 25 years of active service, or they die trying.

We weren’t entrepreneurs in search of an idea, we didn’t set out to make luxury accessories. We simply wanted to save the hose.

Elvis & Kresse makes bags out of recycled fire hoses. Image: Elvis & Kresse

We couldn’t let these rich, durable, life-saving, lustrous coils of deep red nitrile rubber go. Elvis learned to sew. We started with a simple range of belts and grew slowly from there. We have rescued all of London’s decommissioned hoses since 2005.

So these hoses are still working hard, long after their first life. Imagine that, hoses that were supposed to die in landfill are instead helping injured firefighters.

What is the biggest issue everyone should know about at the moment?

Climate change and biodiversity loss…

What is one thing anyone can do to make a positive difference?

This is a great question. They can read anything by Katharine Hayhoe, an amazing climate scientist and communicator. She asks us to ‘act’ because that is where the hope comes from, not the other way around. The great thing is that we can take action in almost everything we do – what we study, where we work, what we eat, what we buy, how we travel.

Find out more at The Big Issue shop

Support our vendors this winter and beyond

If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. As a social enterprise, we invest every penny we make back into the organisation. That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet.
Vendor martin Hawes

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