Bags for a green planet - Not Just Pretty in the news!  

Posted by Elisa

Recycled leather, organic cotton make ecological statement

Times Colonist Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Not so long ago the words "environmentally friendly bag" referred solely to sacks (usually brown) to carry organic groceries. Today, which is Earth Day, eco-bags are just one of the coveted fashion items that are planet-friendly. In fact, they started the trend -- or at least gave it a big boost.

Up-and-coming designers using environmental practices and products found themselves on the profitable edge of a major trend. Especially among those who design bags -- a status staple item.

Vancouver's Ashley Watson, 29, started making her coveted recycled leather bags by fluke a few years ago.

"I was at my parents', had this idea for a bag but was really impatient so I cut up one of my dad's old leather jackets and made it," says Watson. Her slouchy bright bags -- made from leather jackets she finds at charity thrift stores -- coincided with the boho and eco trends in fashion.

She started out visiting socially conscious boutiques in person -- like Victoria's Not Just Pretty on Fort Street, which still carries her bags and accessories.

Now her bag design business is a full-time job. Her edgy and fashionable bags -- think bright 1980s leather, zippers and pockets -- have been featured in Nylon, New York, Flare, Fashion, Lou Lou and Wish magazines, and the Today Show.

"We've had our store for four years now and even in that time we've seen so many more designers emerge using environmental materials," says Pam Skelton, owner of Not Just Pretty. She carries several lines of eco-bags, from those made with recycled materials like billboards and old posters to those made with organic fibres.

One of the latter is Sparrow Handbags by Victoria designer Marlena Maikranz-Bryce. The 28-year-old started her line last year after a break from the fashion design business to work for her family's company, Victoria Signs.


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