They are a fashion brand that challenges the status quo by using business to instigate positive social and environmental change (that just happen to make beautiful bags!)
Duffle & Co. are changing the game (and preconceived ideas) of conscious brands. By using materials that are by-products of different industries, they have been able to ethically craft their beautiful creations out of piñatex, and leather - which is so often thought of as a dirty word! This means they are actually saving the materials from going into landfills, so it is a win-win!
At The Paper Rain Project, we love to champion people and companies who are doing cool things, so we got in touch with Emily from Duffle & Co. to ask some burning questions we had about beautiful bags, sustainability, and how leather products can be made ethically.
What sets Duffle & Co. apart from other "conscious brands"?
They are a fashion brand that stays true to their values throughout the entire business model. I have worked with a number of fashion brands in my time, and it's rare to find an entire team that had analysed each tiny part of their design, supply and production model to make sure it's not harming people or the planet. They also encourage and educate customers to make conscious decisions, even if it means not buying their bags! "Buy less, choose well and make it last", is a mantra well preached.
Your bags are mostly made of leather. Can you explain how leather products can be ethical and sustainable?
Our bags are made from by-product cow leather, taken from the food industry. This is waste that would otherwise be put into landfill and is sourced from suppliers with strict ethical and non-toxic manufacturing processes. We use leather because it is a natural product, is soft yet strong, durable and ages beautifully. Synthetic and "genuine" leathers use up precious resources to make, thus have a far more damaging footprint.
The other material you use is called Piñatex. What exactly is it?
An innovative material made from discarded pineapple leaves, Piñatex is a by-product of existing agriculture. The cellulose fibres from the leaves are extracted by the farmer through a process called 'decortilating', then turned into a non-woven mesh which becomes the base for piñatex. Once the leaves have been stripped of the fibre, the leftover biomass can be used as a nutrient-rich natural fertiliser or a biofuel, so nothing is wasted. The rolls of mesh are then sent to Spain where they are finished, leaving fabric with a leather-like appearance, creating a soft and flexible textile that's very durable. Piñatex is 100% vegan and a low-carbon fabric. Not only is it sustainable, but it allows farmers to fully utilise their crops, providing them with more income and security.
What do you use to dye your products?
Leathers are tanned using natural, non-toxic dyes. We're in the process of testing the longevity of vegetable dyes as we speak!
What does it mean to be 'climate positive'?
I'm glad you asked! It's no secret that the fashion industry is one of the dirtiest in the world. Anything made has an impact, on both people and the planet. We believe that this impact should be positive because our future is too valuable to gamble with. So we rolled up our sleeves, and calculated our entire carbon footprint, from buying materials to typing on our laptops in New Zealand. Every emission possibly created has been calculated so we can make sure to offset whatever we produce. EKOS accredited us as climate positive, which means that all of you can trust that we offset 120% of our carbon.
Aside from the amazing purpose behind the brand, the pieces are all very beautiful and functional, they are not just pieces for the "eco-conscious". Do you think this is part of the success of Duffle & Co.?
Absolutely - you've hit the nail on the head there! When you're inside the eco-conscious circle so to speak, it's very easy to think that everyone knows about ethics and sustainability but in reality, only a small portion of the population does. Most people, conscious fashionistas or not, just want a damned good looking bag, which is also great! Each design has been made, tested, and refined, and tested again with practicality and usability as a priority. The fact that they are made ethically and sustainably is just how we operate. If you had a bag that had been made ethically from the best top of the range materials, but it wasn't practical, it would end up in the landfill. That defeats the point of designing it in the first place.
What is next for Duffle & Co.?
We have experienced so much growth over the last 12 months and for now it's carrying on, doing what we do, but a little bigger and a lot better, to further strengthen our 360 degree benefit model.
SHOP THE RANGE here at The Paper Rain Project.