It’s ethical fashion time! It’s been a little while since we spoke about fashion here on the blog, but today I’ve got a super cool company to tell you about. Hamilton Perkins bags have been on my radar for a little while now, and I’m so excited to tell you more about them today!
Hamilton Perkins is a certified B Corporation. Never heard of it? Let me enlighten you. B Corp works the same as fair trade or GOTS certifications, B Corps are for-profit companies certified by B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. It’s essentially a certification that a business is ethical, and it’s pretty cool. And what is Hamilton Perkins’ business you ask? Well The Hamilton Perkins collection is a bag line, but not just any bag line. These guys are ethical and eco friendly. Let me tell you their story…
Before starting this venture, Hamilton Perkins himself wasn’t in the fashion world at all, working in banking and as a consultant whilst volunteering with various non-profits and servicing low-income populations. It seems the ethical streak was always inside, and the Hamilton Perkins brand became an idea when Hamilton couldn’t find the kind of bag he wanted for himself: something unique that he would feel good carrying. After doing some research he began to learn of the serious pollution problems caused by the fashion industry, as well as how little it was being discussed. He decided he wanted to build a brand based around proactivity: addressing environmental issues whilst also offering a product that was stylish, that anyone would want to own.
The goal was not just to build a bag, but build a better one. Hamilton noticed most bags have a one dimensional design characteristic, and started to find others having similar challenges in trying to find something that could fit all of their needs. The Hamilton Perkins Collection was born with one mission:
‘Environmentally friendly bags for socially conscious travelers on the go. Re-engineering classic travel accessories and building them from the ground up to give you transparency and impact.’
And so the Earth bag was born. A solution to Hamilton’s problem; an all-in-one, eco friendly bag that converts into a duffle bag or backpack. But wait, what makes this bag eco-friendly? (spoiler alert, this is where it gets really good)
Once the vision for the bag was in place, Hamilton’s team built their concept of turning trash into fashion, hoping to inspire and give with every bag sold. And, let’s be real, if you’re wanting to make an environmental impact there’s one huge player that just cannot be ignored: plastic. It seemed unacceptable to the Hamilton to simply ignore the billions of plastic bottles being disposed of every year and the literal hundreds of pounds of plastic being thrown away by the average person. If they wanted to repurpose waste into fashion, surely this was the place to start. Instead of being intimidated by the size of the plastic issue, Hamilton saw opportunity. A huge problem now holds the potential for a huge impact in the future if you have the perspective to see it, and so the team set about designing a bag that would be made completely from recycled plastic bottles. The vision expanded further when vinyl from old billboards was chosen to be repurposed for the bag linings, another unseen wasted resource that many of us wouldn’t even think of (I know I didn’t). But for Hamilton Perkins, this is an opportunity to make a difference and to make each bag wholly unique, as each interior is completely different depending on the designs on the recycled vinyl.
So, after making the choice to convert plastic waste into their weapon of choice, Hamilton Perkins partnered with Thread, another B Corporation who work on converting trash to responsible fabrics in Haiti, giving Hamilton Perkins a pilot country in which to source their plastic whilst also participating in the change that is happening through such initiatives. To expand a little more here, this isn’t some ‘saviour complex’ scheme; as well as removing trash from the streets of Haiti, Thread provides income opportunities and both full and part time jobs to real people that live there, actively working to play a part in boosting economic growth and infrastructure, so they’re working the right way. Thread also helps Hamilton Perkins deliver on their commitments to sustainable business practices (shout out to companies that take accountability seriously). As Hamilton told me ‘our initial estimates show us saving about 285,000 gallons of water, 15,000 pounds of carbon emission, and diverting 16,000 plastic bottles. The more bags that we sell the more we give.’
Their bags are also manufactured in the USA, so not a sweatshop in sight. Pretty cool huh?!
As well as partnering with Thread, Hamilton Perkins are also committed to collaborating elsewhere:
‘Our design process looks different than other companies because we bring in the customer to have a conversation about what they want to see from us. We involve them with prototyping and testing so they are in the conversation from day 1. We owe it to our customers and early backers that gave us insights on the product from our inception. We avoided a lot of mistakes by keeping the customer involved with everything we were doing.’
The Future of Fashion
There are a lot of things I love about the Hamilton Perkins story. The idea for their product came from wanting to meet a need in the fashion world, but Hamilton has taken this so much further in his commitment to find ways to use his venture to meet needs elsewhere too. In doing this the Hamilton Perkins team have created a product that not only is beautiful and multi-functional, but also a business that is eco-friendly, accountable, and actively working to become a part of boosting Haiti’s economy in an ethical way. Hamilton listed some of his business inspirations as Apple for their aesthetic, Amazon for their constant innovation in the world of online shopping, and organisations like Tesla, Toms and Warby Parker for creating innovative products that disrupt norms and change the world. Honestly, I don’t think the vision behind Hamilton Perkins sits that far from these companies. Don’t get me wrong, there are other companies creating beautiful products from trash that are also amazing, but what I love about Hamilton Perkins is the amount of boxes they can tick through company practices and through the product (multi-functional, fits a laptop, right size for travel, stills looks professional, ties in with minimal aesthetic.. you see where I’m going with this?) When a company starts with vision but also an ability to bring a lot to the table, that for me is the makings of a game changer. Also, as a traveller, I’m probably a little biased because I totally want this bag next time I go on tour.
So, with all of this said, let’s leave it to Hamilton to have the last word on what the future might hold:
‘We want to continue to offer innovative products that solve problems through great design and quality. We plan to do this through affordable products designed for style and function, aiming to make a difference one bag at a time. It’s still early and we’re working on getting the word out about our bags, we could go in many directions but we will leave it up to the customers and make what they ask of us in the end.’
So there you have it! If you want to be involved with the future of this collection and this concept, well you can. And that’s pretty cool. The quickest way to do that is to head over to their kickstarter and get involved for yourself. They’ve already smashed their original funding target, so your involvement at this point can help them impact bigger and better than ever before. Join the conversation! (And when you can, get the bag.)
Until next time, stay magic y’all.