How To Turn Trash Into Fashion


In 2014, I thought carefully about my quest to find a unique and socially responsible backpack.  It all started when I was having a personal problem while earning my MBA at William and Mary.  I was planning to travel on global immersion experiences to Asia and Europe and felt that my options to find a bag that I could be proud to carry were severely limited.

EARTH BAG PREMIUM

Before the vision to turn plastic bottles into bags at Hamilton Perkins Collection, we simply were not satisfied with the selections available in the growing global bag market.  We came to the industry from a customer’s point of view and we sought to use this as an advantage.

In the beginning, we thought a lot about establishing a for-profit organization that would be driven by social progress.  We thought that this could be the catalyst to support the vision for building a better bag.  We surveyed friends, family, and prospects to understand the market opportunity and saw a big gap between the ubiquitous bags that sold for less than $100 and the high-end luxury bags that sold for north of $500.

Additionally, we were passionate about solving problems and noticed first hand the modern inconvenience of waste in the form of plastic bottles.  At the time it just seemed as if the benefits of recycling were not fully addressing concerns in our everyday lives.  Moreover, we saw how this affected social and environmental issues and we knew we had to start building our proposition around carrying a bag that looks good and that makes a difference.

BRAND OVERVIEW

A key finding from our research was that most bags were one dimensional, not giving the traveler the option to choose the version of the bag that was most suitable for them.  We formed our thesis around the pain points that our focus groups were voicing to us and turned to one star Amazon reviews and algorithms for deeper unfiltered data. 

A MODEL EXPLORES WITH THE EARTH BAG | PHOTO: ZOE GRANT

The Solution

We developed the Hamilton Perkins Collection Earth bag, an all-in-one convertible backpack made out of recycled plastic bottles and lined with vinyl from repurposed billboards.  The Hamilton Perkins Collection Earth bag features a 3-way zippered compartment that allows easy access to laptops, books, and travel documents.  

A MODEL STANDS WITH THE EARTH BAG | PHOTO: LO GARCIA

The Value

Our bags are the perfect pick if you’re looking for the right blend of style and function.

1. Recycled Plastic Bottles - Hamilton Perkins Collection Earth bags are the world’s first impactful and transparent bags: made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles.

2. Repurposed Billboards - The Hamilton Perkins Collection Earth bags are lined with repurposed billboard vinyl.  Each bag’s lining is different, each bag is unique.

3. Design, transparency, and impact - Hamilton Perkins Collection bags reduce waste, cut carbon emissions in the environment, and conserve water. 

A MODEL REFLECTS WITH THE EARTH BAG | PHOTO: LO GARCIA

A New Perspective

Fast forward to 2016, Hamilton Perkins Collection earned its status as a Certified B Corporation® by offering designer travel bags at an affordable price, while holding the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.  Starting at $95, we are proud to make exceptional products that make a difference one bag at a time.

Design Thinking

Design and function are two driving forces behind our product line.  Our approach to design has been customer-centric from day one.  We take great pride in seeing the world from the customer’s point of view first and then taking it upon ourselves to be the change that we seek.  We prototype and ideate dynamically to find what works for the traveler and what doesn’t.

EARTH BAG DESIGN SKETCHES FROM 2015 

We get excited about making something that doesn’t exist and seeing it bring change and make a difference.  At the end of the day it’s about people for us and when they trust us to design the bag that they carry we don’t take the opportunity lightly.  Our level of care sets us apart in a market where there are so many options to choose from.

A COMPLETE BREAKDOWN OF THE SUPPLIER NETWORK 

Hamilton Perkins Collection was born out of a simple necessity: the need for affordable designer bags that look good, perform well, and make a difference.

Similar to many travelers in the world we had trouble finding a socially conscious bag that met our basic needs in a practical and responsible way. We researched the industry and found that most options were average quality.  The majority of the bag makers maintain low prices with high levels of secrecy around how they can achieve it.  Other bags are excellent quality and their cost is way too much for the price.  What is available to the modern traveler looking to find purpose in every journey?

We founded Hamilton Perkins Collection to be an alternative.

A CLOSE UP OF THE EARTH BAG PREMIUM | PHOTO: ZOE GRANT

We stripped down the traditional walls of the retail world and invited our customers to share their comments and thoughts with us in a way not previously feasible.  We interviewed countless travelers to start new authentic relationships and they told us how we could best serve their needs when re-engineering a classic travel bag.

Most brands look at philanthropy and giving as an afterthought but we see it as an essential part of running a business today.

In collaboration with our workshops and suppliers, we are committed to supporting fair wages and delivering value to less developed nations by sourcing raw materials that divert thousands of plastic bottles, save water, add revenue, and create jobs in parts of the world that need it the most.  We track our progress and submit to rigorous third party review to ensure accuracy and accountability.

With billions of plastic bottles thrown away each year, the average person still throws away as much as 180 pounds of plastic in the same period of time.  It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.  We address these issues by partnering with organizations like Thread, to turn trash into fashion with every bag we sell.

When you buy our bags, together we reduce waste levels, cut carbon emissions, conserve water - and create jobs.

Final Thoughts

Change is a funny thing.  We’ve experienced change and its many benefits by carrying the Earth bag in our everyday lives.  We have sparked lifestyle adjustments that were not evident until examining a simple travel bag. Although we successfully funded our debut Kickstarter campaign in under a week and were selected a Kickstarter “Project We Love” you can still reserve a Hamilton Perkins Collection Earth Bag on Indiegogo and learn more about how our epiphany is changing lives.