Okay don’t scream, but we’ve found another company making accessories out of recycled advertising billboards. We know some of you have complained before about seeing too much of them and yeah we’ve kind of had enough of them too. But RUW have come up with a twist on this well worn theme. While their bags look very similar to other recycled PVC bags such as Vaho, Demano, Modulab, Relan, Vy & Elle (shall we go on?), these guys have associated different charities with their different designs. So for example if you choose their most recent design a small percentage of the price of the bag will go to a charity working to prevent domestic violence. At first we thought, probably like you, oh no not another company jumping on the PVC bandwagon, but then we thought hey that is a great idea. The market for these bags in Barcelona is becoming increasingly competitive and it is interesting to see how the new kid on the bock is trying to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately when we went to the website we found it to be rather opaque.They start rather lyrically with ‘When a hat helps to create a seed and a bag defends human rights…we are talking about sustainable fashion, we’re talking about ethical fashion, we’re talking about RUW.’ All well and good, but there the information stops. You can only see the bags and other accessories, but can’t get any further information on the recycled materials used, any ethical production or any charities. They feature the logos of Amnesty International and Help in Action, another Spanish charity, but there are no links to their websites and no information on how they are related to RUW’s products. For example which charity is it that works to prevent domestic crime and what percentage of the cost of the bag will go to this charity? All this was beginning to smell a bit whiffy to us (like the PVC) and we started worrying about RUW proclaimed good intentions. Is RUW just a marketing ruse or are they for real?
Although we think it's great to lengthen the life of dreaded PVC by transforming it from ads into bags we are beginning to see where the cons of an eco trend like this start. If everyone is transforming PVC ads into accessories is this addressing the real problem? Surely people will soon forget that, apart from the way it looks, one of reasons that they are buying a trendy PVC bag is supposedly an environmental one. We are also concerned about the trend creating supply and demand issues. We have already seen cheaper imitation bags on sale, made in China from virgin PVC stock. They are therefore bypassing the recycling and ethical production concepts altogether just to create the same aesthetic at a vastly reduced cost. We admire labels like Freitag who started this fashion all those years ago, but maybe it’s about time to start addressing the real problem which is the original use of PVC. In the end it is neither here nor there if a design company associates its products with charities as a marketing ploy. The question that really needs to be asked is: isn’t it possible to make the advertising banners out of something else? The bags might just be a passing trend, but we know for sure that the advertising billboards will keep on coming. ::RUW
[Leonora & Petz]