Joshua James Small is the first to admit that fashion is not, and cannot be truly sustainable, but he's adamant that we must try. Hot off the heels of his S/S 21 collection, the London-based designer has released All That Baggage, a handbag capsule launched exclusively through RETURE, an up-cycling platform collaborating with designers such as Liam Hodges and Small. Everything is made on a limited basis of fabric availability.
Continuing to work with Swarovski and Ultrafabrics, Small's handbag line is made entirely from deadstock and up-cycled fabrics. He began the line by experimenting with Ultrafabrics vegan leather, playing with embellishment, seeing how he might elevate these fabrics to the upper echelons of luxury. 'When you think about the average price point of a designer bag, you want it to look and feel like a luxury purchase, and I think the complexity of each textile really showcases this', Small explains.
A dogtooth pearl embellished baguette bag makes use of upcycled fabric from Wales Bonner suiting, and is finished with deadstock Swarovski pearls. Other takes on the iconic baguette bag silhouette (originally a Fendi design which, if you don't know already, you'll recognise from Sex and the City), are the vegan leather and jacquard wool versions, both lined with sustainably certified bamboo silk, complete with detachable strap formed from deadstock vegan leathers supplied by Ultrafabrics.
'The most complex of the capsule, is the "caged bucket bags", as the leather is hand-cut, before the edges are folded, fused and topstitched to the lace. The lace is placed with precision, being considerate of the overall aesthetic of the lace pattern. Eyelets are then added at every cross section, fitted carefully so not to damage the lace. The bottom of the bag is hand sewn, before being machine sewn, and then reinforced. The bag is then lined and finalised', Small explains of the bucket bag design which makes up the rest of the capsule.
Each bag is listed on Small's own website, alongside RETURE, with all parts of the bags listed in detail. Only one of each style of bag will be listed at any given time, and are all made-to-order.
A play on his S/S 21 collection title, THRU THESE TEARS, which was in itself a form of therapy for the designer, this new collection has been aptly named ALL THAT BAGGAGE, nodding to the emotional baggage Small has openly talked about working through via fashion. Most importantly, however, these handbags are a step towards a better planet.