We insist on working with great people who share our values, and our lead bag maker Amy is one of a kind. She wears turquoise everyday, has two cats; George Clooney and Cleopatra, and as far as we can tell, only listens to Radio 6. She is awesome.
She takes all our ideas, no matter how obscure, and turns them into reality. She makes all our bags and is a true master of her art. We were so lucky to find her. She does all this, with the help of a small team, from her studio in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.
When you make just about anything, you cause harm to the planet. It doesn't matter how, "sustainable"* the materials are: the production processes and distance an item travels before it reaches a customer are often equally-polluting as the materials themselves. If you want to make something as responsibly as possible it needs to be made locally to where it's designed, last forever and be recyclable.
Our bags are made in Britain (low air miles), will last a lifetime (arguably the most responsible way to make something), and can be sold back to us and made into something new (otherwise known as circular).
Exterior - Ultra dry-waxed organic cotton canvas from British Millerain.
British Millerain have been proofing and dyeing fabrics in Rochdale, England for over 140 years. Whilst heritage is important to us, the reason we chose to work with British Millerain is their commitment to making a product with minimal environmental impact.
The ultra dry-waxed canvas we are using for our bags is a 14 oz organic cotton canvas, which has been impregnated with wax. It also has a PFC free finish applied for increased water repellency. Unlike traditional waxed canvas, this material has a totally dry finish. Like traditional waxed canvas, it still develops a beautiful patina.
This GOTS certified organic cotton canvas was grown and milled in India and then sent by boat to British Millerain in north west England where it has been died and finished.
If you would like to learn more about organic cotton, we found this site really useful.
Interior lining - Hemp x Organic cotton - Made in Turkey and Oeko-Tex certified.
Our Lining materials are sourced from Merchant and Mills in Kent. This lightweight material is made from a combination of Hemp and Organic Cotton.
Hemp behaves and looks much like linen. It is also grown and processed in a similar way, yet it can yield twice as much fibre as flax. It has a short growing period of about 100 days and so can be planted and harvested up to four times a year. The cultivation process naturally reduces pests and returns 60-70% of the nutrients it takes back into the soil. Its growth requires little water or pesticides and no fertilisers. It is the most carbon negative crop, absorbing more carbon dioxide than it produces.
The buckles on our bags are made in Austria by AustriAlpin. They are well known for making some of the worlds best buckles, and their Cobra buckles (the ones we use) are the world's strongest. We have them sent to us by road, instead of air freight from Austria, to reduce our carbon footprint.
The rest of our metal fittings are sourced from China. Whilst not being ideal, we simply are not able to meet the minimum order requirements to produce them locally and affordably. We are working hard to find viable alternatives.
Our main zipping materials are made by Riri in Switzerland. These zippers are weatherproof, super hard-wearing, and look great. They have a powerful approach to ethics and sustainability, and are independently assessed on a number of environmental factors.
Our cotton webbing is made in Sheffield, England. It’s soft, strong, and durable.
Our internal cotton labels and are made for us by National Weaving in Wales.
All our postal bags and packaging materials are bio-degradable and made in England.
*BearMade wants to be there to help you live as responsibly as possible for our delicate environment. We don't like the word 'sustainable' and it's the first and last time you'll find it anywhere on our site. Producing goods - from plant-based or fossil fuel developed materials (most are a mixture of both now) - isn't ever a truly sustainable practise. Everything we take out of the ground and form into a material: from the energy, pesticides or chemicals needed to do it, unbalances the systems of the natural world. That's why we try to limit the damage in all aspects of a product's life and rejuvenate it through its afterlife. This is known as circular production…