Designer's bags put recycling into practice

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 July, 2010, 12:00am

The toughest part of making handbags from discarded banners is finding enough of them, budding designer Wong Ming-wai says.

'We have asked student committees in the University of Hong Kong to give us all their used banners after their promotion of committee events.

'District councillors and candidates from the May 16 [Legislative Council] by-elections were among our sources. All the banners hanging on the railings around the city can be our raw materials. We just need to cut out the images of the people and the logos of any organisations when making the bags,' she said.

Using the banners to make handbags is an ingenious way to promote design creativity and sustainable development, Wong believes.

The HKU design graduate has set up a social enterprise to make the bags. With seed capital of HK$10,000, she and a group of friends have made 100 handbags from discarded leather and plastic banners and is selling them for HK$199 to HK$399. Her work will be on display at a forum today at the book fair on how to preserve the planet through recycling.

She has also made 100 pencil cases from discarded materials and will distribute them through a non-governmental organisation to children in Afghanistan.

Wong was the winner of a competition organised by Chinese University last year to promote social collectives. 'My entry for the competition then was furniture made from newspaper,' she said.

She is in talks with fashion outlets in shopping malls about the sale of her designs. 'It's an experiment,' she said. 'If we succeed, we will expand the scale of the production and run the company like a social collective.'

She made the prototypes of the bags herself and gave them to a factory in Shenzhen for production. 'We are very lucky to have found a factory that agreed to do small-scale production,' she said. 'Usually, they only accept bulk orders in excess of a thousand items.'