“We started to solve London’s fire-hose problem in 2005, by 2010 we were large enough to be sustainably rescuing all of London’s hoses.”
Sustainable Luxury – Elvis & Kresse keeps proving that luxurious designs and outstanding craftmanship can support a good cause and be available for a large audience. From meeting the London Fire Brigade to working with the Burberry Foundation to tackling leather waste issues, we’ve followed the brand’s journey with one of the founders, Kresse Wesling MBE.
What/who was your influence when you started Elvis & Kresse?
Our influence was the fire-hose. In 2005 I had a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade and had a very emotional response to their damaged, decommissioned fire-hose. It was too heroic and too beautiful for landfill. Somebody had to do something, and those somebodies were us, Elvis & I. We mounted a rescue, and over the last 13 years we have saved all of London’s hoses, transforming them into a range of luxury accessories and donating 50% of the profits to the Fire Fighters Charity. From the first day we had a unique DNA: rescue, transform, donate.
Your brand promotes sustainable luxury. Why is sustainability so important for fashion brands?
Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil. It is imperative that it cleans up its act. Every country, every industry, every business, every family, every individual needs to be sustainable, why? Because otherwise they are ‘unsustainable’, otherwise we can’t survive. Achieving sustainability on this global scale will be difficult, but we don’t really have a choice.
50% of your profits go to charity. What charity organisations have you worked with in the past?
Our main beneficiary is the Fire Fighters Charity, but we have also worked with Help for Heroes, the Wessex Autistic Society, The Costa Coffee Foundation, The Matthew Algie Foundation, SWATS, Comic Relief, The British Forces Foundation and WWF. For our leather rescue project, of which our Fire & Hide collection is a part of, 50% of the profits will go to renewable energy projects.
Besides giving back, you also work with the Burberry Foundation. Can you tell us more about this cooperation?
No matter how carefully patterns for leather goods are planned, high quality, unused, freshly tanned and dyed leather falls to the cutting room floor as seemingly unusable pieces. Globally this amounts to 800,000 tonnes each year. We have designed a system to transforms those leftover leather fragments into components which are then hand woven, piece by piece, into whole new hides. When we decided to tackle the leather problem, we knew we would need a brave partner. This is where Burberry came in. We are grateful for the support of the Burberry Foundation, late last year we launched our 5-year partnership, 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.
Who is your customer?
Elvis & Kresse has a broad customer mix and although it is impossible to generalise there are some interesting groups. Conscious consumers, those who really want their purchasing power to support a sustainable, ethical economy, is probably the main camp. Then there are those who support our specific materials or causes – for obvious reasons, a lot of people love fire service personnel. Finally, we have a growing group of customers who simply love high quality hand crafted, utilitarian timeless classics.
Where do you see Elvis & Kresse in 5 years?
We started to solve London’s fire-hose problem in 2005, by 2010 we were large enough to be sustainably rescuing all of London’s hoses. In 5 years we really hope to have achieved the same kind of solution for leather off-cuts.
Any future collaboration plans with other brands or special projects for Elvis & Kresse that you can tell us about?
We definitely have our hands full with the Burberry Foundation partnership, a lot of interesting projects, products and collaborations will arise from this. Keep your eyes peeled.
What is one fashion advice you would give to Modafirma customers?
Think twice, buy once.
What are your favourite items from Modafirma?
I love the Lida cardigan made with recycled yarn by Hekne. Love the entire ethos of this slow fashion brand.