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Burberry tackles leather waste with new collaboration

The Burberry Foundation has announced a five-year partnership with London-based sustainable accessories brand Elvis and Kresse to tackle the waste created by the leather industry.

Elvis and Kresse, which is known for re-engineering waste material through innovative craftsmanship, has received a grant from the Burberry Foundation to support their work and will receive at least 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts from the production of Burberry products to make into a range of accessories and homeware.

The new products will be designed and sold by Elvis and Kresse, with half of the profits being donated to charitable causes focused on renewable energy, while the remaining half will be reinvested by Elvis and Kresse to expand their work in reducing and reusing waste, protecting the environment and inspiring craftspeople.

Christopher Bailey, a trustee of The Burberry Foundation and president and chief creative officer of Burberry Group, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the work of Elvis and Kresse and providing them with the leather off cuts to create truly innovative products.

“Leather is a precious material, yet many of the off cuts generated by the design process are seen as worthless. We believe that this can change, and we are proud to lead the way in showing how creativity and craftsmanship can play a part in solving this issue.”

In addition to creating new leather products, the partnership will also generate apprenticeship and work experience opportunities with Elvis and Kresse and aim to reach thousands through public events, competitions and workshops.

Burberry Foundation partners with Elvis and Kresse to reduce leather waste

The move comes as a report from the United Nations reveals that at least 800,000 tonnes of leather waste is produced by the global leather industry. Burberry notes that even when patterns are carefully planned to maximise the hide, the process inevitably creates small offcuts.

“These are high quality, unused, freshly tanned and dyed leather, but fall to the workshop floor as seemingly unusable pieces. Elvis and Kresse has designed a system that transforms these fragments into components, which are then hand woven into a new kind of hide that is unrestricted by size or shape,” explains Burberry.

Kresse Wesling, co-founder of Elvis and Kresse, added: “Elvis & Kresse was founded to rescue London’s fire hose. When we decided to tackle the much, much larger leather problem, we knew we would need a brave partner.

“We are grateful for the support of the Burberry Foundation and are truly excited to scale this solution, and magnify its impact. This is the kind of work we are made for and this is the kind of partnership that will change the future of luxury.”

The grant from the Burberry Foundation to Elvis and Kresse is in line with Burberry’s new Responsibility agenda, of which a principal goal is to invent approaches to revaluing waste over the next five years, the British fashion house said.

Image: courtesy of Burberry Foundation