Extinguishing waste

Seeing waste as a resource requires looking at it in an unusual way.  Maxine Perella speaks to Kresse Wesling about how she’s done just that with the discarded ‘heroic materials’ that are transformed into the raw textiles for her designer fashion label

This article was taken from Issue 76

Most waste materials contain some degree of latent value, that much is known. But what is often overlooked is that such materials come with their own unique history as well. That journey, from extraction and creation to end-of-use, contains a powerful narrative that many working in the field of resource management have yet to tap into.

One company that has acted on this realisation with alarming ingenuity is fashion label upcycler Elvis & Kresse. The company prides itself on taking what it calls ‘heroic materials’ – industrial waste such as decommissioned fire hoses – and transforming them into beautiful accessories like belts or bags.

Co-founder Kresse Wesling recalls when she first set eyes on a heap of used fire hoses that were destined for landfill in a Croydon fire station. Although they couldn’t be easily repaired or recycled due to their material complexity, she knew they could be reclaimed in some way. “It struck me that they all have a story to tell, one of saving lives... the hose is quite a heroic material”, she says.