Thursday, 31 May 2012

Q&A with Bottletop

Oliver Wayman and Cameron Saul, Directors of Bottletop 
The roots of the Bottletop Foundation go back to 2002 when Cameron Saul found a quirky wireframe bag made from recycled bottletops in Uganda.  Having developed the bag, he successfully launched it in partnership with Mulberry, raising vital funds for education project work in Africa.  Bottletop, the premium luxury fashion company followed in 2011, co-founded with Oliver Wayman, the global sales of which, alongside music and contemporary art projects, help to fund the Foundation's work.

The Bottletop fashion production process now supports over 40 staff in Brazil, ensuring fair wages, community-based support and holistic care that includes pensions, medical cover and even regular physiotherapy to avoid repetitive strain. Through the Bottletop Foundation, now active across several nations from the UK, to Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Brazil, Cameron and Oliver aim to empower young people; to protect themselves, their families, their communities and the environment.

Here the Bottletop boys tell us a little more:

Describe Bottletop in three words...
Design, Quality, Ethics

Where does your design inspiration come from?
It is really a combination of the creative, eclectic culture and vibrancy in Salvador, North East Brazil where our collection is produced and the style and finesse of Paris where our design team is based.

Who would your dream person be to design for?
Erykah Badu, the epitomy of roots cool.

If you could only wear one fashion brand forever, which would you choose?
Osklen 

What made you choose to operate in an ethical way vs any other model?
It really originates from wanting to make a sustainable social impact to the community where we, the project, is based. We didn't have grand plans, we just wanted to make beautiful products in the community. Fortunately for us the products have had a great reaction and we have managed to expand the team and employ more workers. We have charitable roots so working in an exploitative, unethical way wouldn't really be an option for us nor something we would want to be involved in. It is incredibly fulfilling to see the impact it is having and every visit to the project is a humbling experience.

Are there any fellow ethical businesses you recommend and why?
Osklen, one of the few brands to achieve luxury whilst maintaining a real focus on the environment through use of sustainable materials.

What tips would you give others keen to run their label or company as a successful ethical business?
Try to maintained focused on the design and quality of the products.  You can have the best ethical credentials in the world but if the products don't work then there is really no longevity in the brand.

If you had to pick a favourite accessory from Bottletop, which would you choose?
The June bag. Our beautiful oversized slouch bag, hand crocheted in Brazil.

What do you see the future holding for the brand?
We have two exciting forthcoming product collaborations, with RED and Osklen. We believe next season's collection will be our most exciting yet, introducing a host of new styles in our leather braided line alongside an injection of bright colour with our existing best selling designs.

To hear more about Bottletop Foundation or to shop and show your support, visit www.bottletop.org

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