Interview with Sophie Postma from RECLAIM BAGS

Written by on August 24, 2013 in Fashion, Women - Comments Off on Interview with Sophie Postma from RECLAIM BAGS
A little while ago, we told you about this great market in London, the Spitalfields Saturday Style Market. Recently, we spoke to one of the young and promising designers who trade at this market, Sophie Postma from RECLAIM BAGS. Sophie uses recycled rubber inner tubes as the main material to create each individual, handmade piece. The concept behind the brand is to produce a sustainable range of handbags and accessories that will change people’s perceptions of recycled products and test the limits of re-use.
PVC-LARGE1-300x3001. What made you decide to go for sustainable/ethical fashion? Was it purely a drive to be innovative, or was it a matter of ideals?
In my final year at University I was working on my dissertation, part of this was focused on sustainable design, hence I was interested in the topic anyway. I had done a lot of research into mass market and mass production vs more handmade, sustainable products and come up with my own conclusions that sustainable products were the future. With this in mind and my own want to be innovative in my design the idea of Reclaim sort of fell into place, so really it was a bit of both.
2. What was your lightbulb moment to decide to start designing bags from used inner tubes?
As I had done lots of research into various materials, I had lots to choose from. I think I had always lent towards the rubber as I loved the fact it had so many qualities, it was soft, flexible, durable and of course a recycled material. I do always remember lying in bed one night trying to get to sleep and thinking of an interesting way of putting it together. The lightbulb moment for me was coming up with the ‘interlocking method’ (the method which I use now to attach the rubber together). I had to get up there and then and draw out the pattern so I wouldn’t forget.
3. Is it difficult to make something from that material? They probably need a lot of cleaning. Does the end product have a rubber smell?
Initially, yes it was hard to produce something from that material. It was completely new to me and I had no idea how it would react to anything I wanted to do. It was a lot of trial and error in the beginning, finding out what worked, what didn’t etc. Now I feel like I know it inside out. Cleaning was an issue, now I have a 4 step method to ensure it is in the best possible condition. Regarding the smell, I honestly don’t really notice it anymore, however I get told there is a faint smell to start with but this wears off in time.
ENVELOPE-CLUTCH-LARGE-300x3004. Do you find it hard to get your product out there with all the competition around and the fact that people may need to get used to this concept of upcycling?
It is difficult to spread awareness of the product/brand but I think every new start up is like that. I do believe that with the type of product I have it is slightly harder, the stigma surrounding recycled products etc, having said this I have noticed a change over the past year. More people are open to the idea of the products/brand than ever before. To date, I haven’t approached a huge amount of shops, I like the immediate customer feedback that Spitalfields Market gives you, it is a really good insight to get. I am currently working on a new collection, which I am hoping will be ready come the middle of September. This collection is aimed more at attracting shops/wholesalers. More work is going into the overall presentation/branding now that I know that I have the products exactly how I want them.
5. Do you plan to expand your product range, for example design cool foldable shoes or home accessories?
I have so many ideas I can’t keep up with myself. I love the idea of doing home accessories, chair covers and stool tops etc and I can definitely see this happening in the future. I have also toyed with the idea of doing clothing.
6. Where do you hope to be in ten years?
In 10 years time, I would love to see the business established as a successful international brand, with a wide portfolio of products and a reputation of being the go-to brand for sustainability, innovation and forward thinking.

About the Author


Founder of Allmygoodness. True believer in the goodness way of life. Sustainability & communications consultant. Foodie. Mother of a girl and twin boys.