What do you get when you team up a leading car manufacturer with New York Fashion Week’s hottest designer? A super chic and sustainable weekend bag of course.
Volvo Cars and 3.1 Phillip Lim have joined forces to develop a new luxury fashion accessory made from Volvo interior materials, which ties in with their shared passion for sustainability and the use of materials made from bio-based and recycled sources – who could forget Phillip’s carbon neutral algae dress?
In this spirit, the weekend bag is made from a new sustainable material for Volvo interiors called Nordico (starting with the C40 Recharge, all new fully electric Volvo models will now be completely leather-free), a high-quality and innovative material made from recycled material such as PET bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry.
Here, the designer talks us through his latest project.
Tell us about this new partnership with Volvo.
The partnership is an incredible moment for me personally. It is an alignment of two different companies from two different industries where we bring a similar dream and a similar intention to create a product that really redefines what luxury is. This is kind of a dream. I mean, it’s a car company that I remember, as a child, you know, neighbours, parents, even friends today, they drive this car.
3.1 Philip Lim is an independent company in New York City, and we get to work with this mega international car company. The collaboration is about leveraging our different resources to come together to produce a bag that makes the consumer choose better, and move forward in a better way.
The bag is made from recycled materials, is it getting easier now to source more sustainable materials?
So this this material is a combination of recycled PET bottles, like wine, cork, corporate and wine bottles, and also bio base attributed materials from the forests of Sweden and Finland. And what’s incredible about this material is it in the way that it really acts and behaves like leather. It will hopefully inspire other companies and even myself to rethink materials that I use for my collection.
Every type of collaboration such as ours is a celebration of embracing a more circular economy, a more circular way of sourcing, reclaiming materials that are the end of life of a product but also using that to begin a new life.
What was the design process behind the bag?
When I think about Volvo Cars too, I think about the journey. It’s such a beautifully sculpted vehicle that has integrity behind it. I saw the new C40 Recharge as quite a sexy car, and minimal too, and I wanted to create bag that suited that. This bag was inspired by an iconic family of bags that we we have at 3.1 Phillip Lim called the 31 hour series.
They have this multi purpose, it’s a multi use bag that would be a solution for global citizens on the go that have very multifaceted lives that have so much to do, but only 24 hours to do it in. The 31 hours gives them six extra hours to accommodate everything that they desire. Taking a page out of our house bag, we sculpted this bag into the lives of Volvo’s modern global citizens, in a more conscious way.
When we started working with the Nordico fabric, it blew my mind, how it was so easy to work with it, it was the characteristics, the suppleness, the drape, the presence, you really didn’t have to do so much with it. The good news is that through the process of designing, and manufacturing, it’s less harmful. When we work with skins, you can only use certain parts. But with Nordico, you can use it from edge to edge.
It’s healthier for the planet, and also a better value proposition for what we think of luxury, it’s about approaching a dream, a design, without compromise.
What do you think the fashion industry can do to become more sustainable?
You’ve got to start somewhere. I always believe in small gestures fuelled with intention. And also bringing different industries together, like this collaboration really will inspire open doors to the possibilities. As a small fashion brand we don’t have access to all this incredible technology, but when you can leverage Volvo’s resources to bring together something that is so desirable and fashionable, then it’s a win win. When we unite and celebrate our differences to produce something that is good for the people and the planet, it’s an amazing product.
The bag is timeless, is that a tricky balance to hit, between creating new trends but also something you want to wear forever?
Exactly, you hit on the spot. The bag is timeless, but should be modern, employing modern materials that really are forward thinking too, but at the same time the bag was designed to fit those extra six hours in a day to solved those very busy lifestyles. We categorised it as a weekend bag, but it’s actually an everyday bag. It needed to be a bag that really could sit in these beautiful cars of the future.
It’s not so much that you want to create a trend because it will look good on Instagram, it’s about fitting into our lives today.
I think that if we approached it like a trend, it would cancel the whole intention of the collaboration. We want to make products that you never want to get rid of, that you wear down to a point where you give it back to the maker to reclaim and reuse for something new. That’s part of embracing that circular economy. I think that it’s our job as creators to create more responsibility, not to stop our dreams or to curb our dreams, but approach them in a more creative way.
With that in mind, what can we expect from your Spring/Summer collection?
Taking a page from this exercise, I wanted to really rethink how we approach the collection through textile. At the end of the day, we still create clothes for our global citizen, but it’s how we approach it, how we use recycled materials versus virgin materials, how we follow the path of nature, how we think about the process in manufacturing, but also the process in shifting and condensing. It’s really not looking at it from just design point of view, but also process it in a holistic way of how we function as a company.
While the bag is not available for purchase due to the exclusive limited edition run, people may have opportunities to get hold of a limited number of bags through local market initiatives such as competitions, charity auctions and giveaways.