- Tell us your Rewilder story:
We met in a bar in New York City. We became best friends when we lived a few blocks apart in Los Angeles, and always had a close connection over design. The growth of Rewilder happened naturally, at a time in both of our lives when we were conflicted about our careers and looking for a better way of making.
We are both trained as designers, Lisa in fashion and Jenny in architecture, and worked for 15 years in our respective fields. Our passion for Rewilder comes from years of experience in production and fabrication, where we both saw firsthand the great waste of materials and resources. Lisa has traveled the world designing and producing bags for luxury brands, and her experiences with factories in China, Korea and Italy have shaped our current focus toward a more responsible use of materials and production.
From childhood, we both had great role models that taught us to work sustainably and with respect for the earth. Even so, environmental consciousness has been a gradual learning process as we were exposed to our respective industry (architecture and fashion) waste. Since starting Rewilder, we continue to learn about the devastating environmental effects of fast fashion. Changing our behavior is a constantly evolving process, something that we work at every day in our office and personal lives.
- What do you want to change / influence by starting Rewilder?
Our goal is to change the way people perceive repurposed materials and give these materials value. In our society, what we call “trash” is nothing but resources we don’t use. These materials do not deserve to be thrown away, and we intend to change this.
- Rewilder balances design, function and eco-friendly so well. How did you come up with the idea of using beer filter cloth, climbing rope etc for your bag design? How did you source them?
Jenny came across this material while teaching a Materials Innovation class at Art Center School of Design in Pasadena. It was immediately clear that this material has unique properties perfect for repurposing - strength, beauty, durability, lightness. She showed the material to Lisa, who was immediately sure of its use in bags. It was clear very fast that this material could replace the leather and PU that was so typical in bag design, for a truly responsible and sustainable alternative.
The salvage climbing ropes became a part of our process after months of testing. The ropes we use also have ideal properties to complement our bags – strong, versatile, and lightweight – and we have developed a proprietary process to make the ropes flat, comfortable and wide.
It took a lot of time and tenacity to find reliable sources for our materials. We pay for everything we use, and have developed business relationships with climbing gyms and breweries that provide us consistency in our supply.
- What was the most difficult part during the producing process? How did you conquer it?
Transforming post-industrial salvage fabric is not easy, and we put in months of research and development before going to production. The filter cloth is technically challenging to sew and seam. We spent 7 months testing different finishes that would give us the elegant and long-lasting details we want – our version of an exaggerated French Seam!
- Why is being eco friendly important to you? Do you find it limiting while creating new design?
As designers, we have a responsibility to lead the way and think outside the box. Thinking outside the box is more than changing the lines we draw, but also changing the materials we use and the entire life cycle of a product. It is crucial to cut back on waste and new production that stresses our natural resources.
We feel this is an excellent challenge for us, and for all designers.
6.What satisfies you the most since starting your own business? Any frustrations?
Once we found our primary material and started testing with it, we realized that we have great power to make measurable change. It is a gift to come to work every day and make a difference.
Yes we have had many frustrations. There were definitely moments during the R+D phase where we were not sure the materials would work in transformation to high design. We knew the level of detail that we wanted, but it took months to find the right fabrication techniques. There were a few great disappointments and failed experiments.
- Describe Rewilder in 3 words:
Fashion / Active / Sustainable
- What's your favorite bag?
Cornerstone was the first major building block of our line, and we loved it from the moment it took shape! It feels classic, and is our most versatile and best-selling bag - a distinctive silhouette that goes wherever the day take you.
Cornerstone is also in our hand painted collection, which is a very popular graphic color block on our natural Beer Brindle color. We use salvage house paint to create this detail.
- Other environmental practices you apply while running your business?
Of course! We consider eco in everything we do, from our giant business card (asking people to take a photo rather than a piece of paper) to our packaging (using no tape or glue on 100% recycled kraft paper). Sustainability is core to our business at every level.
- Advice for people who would like to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Your individual actions and dollars count, and you can make a difference by thinking before you buy. We advocate for conscious consuming, understanding that we live on a planet with finite resources and have a responsibility to reduce waste.
We both live by the motto: Shop small, shop vintage, or don’t shop at all.