Putting the fire back into luxury

Luxury that’s charitable and sustainable

For luxury accessories brand Elvis & Kresse (www.elvisandkresse.com), joining hose with the high-end fashion world came with some surprise and a splash of luck. It was 2004 and the term upcycling didn’t exist when Canadian born Kresse Wesling moved to the UK from Hong Kong. And, unlike anybody we’ve ever come across before, Wesling likes to get to know a new home by visiting landfill sites and waste transfer centres to understand how the state functions. So that’s exactly what she did. One thing led to another and before she knew it she was faced with the knowledge that ten tonnes of decommissioned British firehose gets tossed into landfill every year.

“This is a beautiful durable material and so full of a rich narrative, laden with heroic potential,” thought Wesling: “Something has to be done to save it.”

So she brought it home to her partner, Elvis and told him what she planned to do, thinking at first that it might be a community project of some sort. The result, however, was nothing like either of them could at first have invisaged: a series of mid-priced accessories (bags, belts, wallets and even a rug) made out of firehose.

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So why is firehose luxury?

We know we ask this question a lot but what does luxury really mean? Surely to some extent it’s in the eye / hand / heart of the beholder? For customers buying goods made by Elvis and Kresse, luxury is about transparency and quality – it’s about a one-time buy that gives back not only to our environment but also (of all unexpected luxurious things) to the UK fire service – 50% of the brand’s profits to be exact.

“We’re in an industry where people want to sell more. I want to sell less,” says Wesling. “We make belts that are virtually indestructible. We’ve had customers who have grown or shrunk in size and we’ve increased and shrunk the size of their belt. If one of my buckles fails, I will replace it. I will not charge you for it. I will make sure that belt keeps going.” Now that’s what we call luxury service.

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