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RECO uses deadstock leather to make luxury handbags

Born out of a pandemic project, RECO takes deadstock leather from the factories of the world’s biggest brands and transforms it into exclusive, luxury handbag collections.

As the fashion industry comes under increasing pressure to lower its ranking on the environmental destruction index, the world’s most sought-after brands are starting to experiment with vegan and mushroom leather alternatives.

Numerous companies have launched to encourage sustainable consumption of luxury items, including resale and repair services which help to prolong the life of handbags and other accessories.

But to be entirely eco-friendly, fashion needs to deal with its waste problem. In 2020, Vogue Business reported that deadstock fabric is a key part of what makes the industry responsible for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

One company called RECO is striving to reduce this wasteful habit by taking unwanted, but top-quality leather scraps from the factories of luxury brands and turning them into sustainable (and cute!) handbags.



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A post shared by STUDIO RECO (@studioreco_)

RECO’s founder is Bea Recoder, whose impressive resume reveals a decade of experience working for brands such as Byredo, Paco Rabanne, Balenciaga, and Chloé.

Throughout the years, Recoder had visited factories where handbags and other leather items were made. She was often drawn to piles of fabrics that were likely to be discarded rather than turned into actual product.

Witnessing this made the decision to upcycle discarded leather scraps an obvious one. On the other hand, figuring out how to weave the pieces together to make chic accessories presented serious challenges.

During the pandemic, Recoder brainstormed how to make use of even the smallest pieces of material. After feeling like she was trying to put a giant puzzle together, the idea to adopt a patchwork technique to create handbags became obvious.



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A post shared by STUDIO RECO (@studioreco_)

The style of the bags evoke a vibe similar to collections by Bottega Veneta, with their diamond checkerboard appearance. But because they’re made from high-quality cut offs of already existing leather, the bags are far more exclusive.

‘If I don’t find the same leather, I can never produce the same bag [again], so this is what makes it special,’ Bea Recoder told Vogue. ‘There are a few pieces where between 10 to 30 [have been produced]. Each piece is handcrafted – that’s luxury to me.’

Other brands would do well to learn from RECO’s modus operandi.

If brands like Hermés, Chanel, and Balenciaga started using their own deadstock to create bespoke or one-of-a-kind pieces, they would increase their profit and exclusivity while improving their reputation in regard to sustainability.

‘I really want to show it’s possible to have a healthy business [while] using deadstock and sticking to limited-edition pieces and small quantities. I believe it’s possible,’ said Recorder.

Already attracting retailers like Farfetch and Browns, RECO is already proving to the industry that one designers’ trash is another designers’ treasure.


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