Could you tell us something about the inspiration behind your business?
I am a musician who loves leather bags and have learned how to design and make leather bags. I saw a lot of leather scraps left over from the sewing process, ending up at the landfill. It inspired me to find out how to recycle, add value and reuse that waste. I flew to Italy to learn about leather waste management before applying this knowledge to my own business. My partner and I founded the brand, Thaïs EcoLeathers in September 2018. We made it from scratch by designing a machine for recycling leather scraps into a material used for making the bags. The company launched its first lifestyle product, a handbag, in February 2019.
How is your material special?
It’s made from 100% recycled leather scraps. We collect the scraps from sewing factories, separate them carefully by hand into groups based on their thickness, quality and colour, and sterilise them. After that, we cut the clean, dry leathers strips into tiny pieces and create a recycled leather sheet. Its texture is similar to a paperboard or cork while the colours come from the original scraps. We can transform 500 kilograms of leather scraps into more than 1,000 unique recycled leather sheets each month.
What product lines do you have?
We make different types of bags – handbags, tote bags, bucket bags, messenger bags, clutch bags and foldable bags. Inspired by “Falling Rain”, the royal composition, our first collection is khun sai phon, (sai phon means rain). We combine our eco leather and local handwoven Thai fabrics, to create a texture that looks like the rain.
Who are your major customers?
We categorise our customers into two main groups – B2C and B2B customers. The first group are people aged between 20 and 45. About 75% of them are women and 25% are men. They buy different types of bags. B2B customers buy bags and recycled leather sheets. About 95% of our customers are international and 80% of them are Asian, mainly Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean. We also have customers from the US, Europe and Africa.
What are your future plans?
We are working with the National Innovation Agency and Thailand Textile Institute to develop the second generation of our eco leather sheet, which will be bendable, foldable and more flexible. We expect to see the first run of this eco leather sheet by September 2019 and increase our production capacity to 4,000 sheets per month. We also hope our material will be used in other industries, such as wallpaper for interior decoration.
How does the DITP support your business?
We have participated in several DITP projects. For example, by joining the Qurated Fashion Incubation Project 2019, we learned about design, cutting and bag production. Moreover, we also met many potential international buyers from across the world at STYLE Bangkok 2019. We received very positive feedback from STYLE visitors, who were interested in our eco-products and materials.
For more information, visit www.thais-ecoleathers.com, FB: Thais Ecoleathers, IG:thais.ecoleathers
Words by Somhatai Mosika