FASHION

Eduards Accessories’ new line challenges the very idea of the design process

Founder Cecilia Eduards teams up with Swedish researchers to develop business models that contribute to more sustainable consumption patterns.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
May 18, 2021

With The Leather Archive Project, we’re challenging the very idea of the design process by starting with the material.

Cecilia Eduards worked 15 years as an architect. Over the years, the daily work changed a lot — from pen and paper to digital 3D modeling — and she found herself longing for the tactile aspects of design, working in scale 1:1, and seeing and feeling the result of her work.

— Since I’ve always had a passion for leather as a material, I set up a leather studio in my basement, learnt the traditional methods of leather craft and started Eduards Accessories.

The brand is based on Eduards’ desire to transform the sustainable aspects from her work as an architect into accessory design.

— The focus is not the brand, but the product itself, the way that it ages, and the natural qualities of vegetable-tanned leather that we use. It’s a natural material tanned with organic extracts instead of chrome, a fantastic one that wears with patina and lasts for decades. For me, running a slow-fashion brand, the most important part of a design is not what the item looks like when new, but what it will look like in a couple of years. The items are constructed to endure everyday wear and to be mendable; the shoulder straps are attached with rivets instead of seams, we only apply lining where needed for functionality, and we use real leather for lining instead of fabric. Most of the bags we present in our media channels have been used and loved for years, carrying the marks of everyday life, telling a story. I feel privileged to be able to take a step away from the idea of new and perfect and present items as companions, not accessories.

Last year, Cecilia Eduards was contacted by Thomas Nyström, researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden’s Department of Sustainable Business.

— His wife had carried a bag from Eduards Accessories for quite a while, she tells. When he and his team started a project financed by Region Västra Götaland (located on the Swedish west coast, and includes the second city of Gothenburg and the ”textile capital” of Borås, Ed’s note) focusing on value preservation and resourceful use of material within the region, he thought that Eduards Accessories would be a good partner.

— The aspect of sustainability is always present in our work, in the design and functionality of our items, and I am proud to work exclusively with local production. The ambition is to develop business models that contribute to more sustainable consumption patterns. For instance, we do not do seasonal fashion but all items are designed to be permanent members of our collections. Working in close collaboration with experts on Sustainable Business at RISE Research Center has been very rewarding. We had a handful of ideas for sustainability projects for which these experts have helped us develop clearer strategies.

The first of these projects to launch is The Leather Archive Project series.

— The Leather Archive Project #1 is a limited edition of Eduards Accessories’ signature Näver collection, available in two colour schemes. All items are made out of high-quality leather from the material archives of Nordic Leather, a local Swedish producer of leather accessories, says Eduards, continuing,

— Here, we take the idea of sustainability a step further in challenging the very idea of the design process by starting with the material. Unused material from a larger customer of Nordic Leather, a stock of high quality vegetable tanned leather in a beautiful colour palette, is the starting point. Focusing on small scale, non-seasonal design, we have the unique ability to make smaller series of accessories, making use of even small stocks of material. I reversed the design process, started with the material and created a new line, Patchy, that adds a brand new look to our mentioned line Näver and visualizes the characteristics of The Leather Archive Project.

It seems like the leather industry is one of the world’s dirtiest, even though the use of vegetable tanned leather is an important step. What does the industry need to do to make it better?

— According to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), 90% of the global leather industry consists of chrome-tanning and I hope that both industry and consumers will fight for a more sustainable industry by making better choices. We must stop over-production and use leather with care. There are many items made out of leather that could have been made out of other materials that most likely would serve the purpose better. Both companies designing and customer buying items out of leather should take a moment to think about the longevity of the item. Will you use and care for it over time or will it be out of fashion next year?

— The advantage of real leather is the longevity aspect and the fact that the material, just like other natural materials such as wood, ceramics, and limestone, improves with age and use. Hopefully, we will develop new materials with the qualities of vegetable tanned leather in the future. Most of the materials available today contain PVC and lack the durability and longevity qualities of vegetable-tanned leather. However, the development of new, sustainable materials is a highly interesting field that I’m keeping a close eye on in collaboration with researchers at RISE.

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