Rather than doing a big event for London Fashion Week, designer Anya Hindmarch decided to close her London stores for 3 days and fill them with used plastic bottles, in an effort to connect people to the enormous problem of single-use plastic. Over 90,000 plastic bottles were used to fill the stores, which were collected by Anya Hindmarch employees from their local communities; astoundingly this is how many plastic bottles go into landfills every 8.5 minutes.
The strong statement coincides with the launch of an innovative project by Hindmarch called the “I Am A Plastic Bag” collection, featuring bags that are made from a new fabric created from recycled plastic bottles and coated with recycled plastic windshields. The technology took over 2 years to develop, and is an extension of Hindmarch’s pioneering ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ collection from 2007, which was instrumental in spearheading the global anti-plastic bag movement.
Despite the impact of our 2007 I’m Not A Plastic Bag project, the problem of single use plastic is far from solved. The mission has changed however, from ‘awareness’ of the problem to ‘circularity’ of materials, something we’ve spent the last two years working on with the I Am A Plastic Bag project.
— Anya Hindmarch
The groundbreaking ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ collection from 2007 was made of canvas, and was an immediate sell-out worldwide. The year it launched there was a significant reduction in the number of plastic bags used in the UK, and it had an impact on global awareness as well.
Each bag from the new “I Am A Plastic Bag” collection is woven using filaments that are made from 32 half liter recycled plastic bottles, just like those used to fill the Anya Hindmarch’s stores during London Fashion Week. The resulting fabric, which feels similar to cotton canvas, is then coated with recycled windscreens for durability.
When you throw something away, there is no away.
— Anya Hindmarch
The new bags from recycled plastic are designed to last, so that they can be used over and over again. The company wisely espouses a philosophy of “progress not perfection”, and the bags do have leather handles for the sake of durability. Importantly, other materials were explored including “vegan leather” which is essentially made of plastic; in the end the company decided to use a type of leather that is a sustainably sourced by-product of the meat industry. Additionally, although Anya Hindmarch has said she does not believe carbon offsetting is the answer, the label has nonetheless partnered a global climate change consultancy called EcoAct to measure the emissions associated with the “I Am A Plastic Bag” collection and make it a carbon-neutral project.