FASHION | ZABO + THE TYRE FACTORY16.4.17
|Laura Zabo wearing one of her Ovals Necklace|
"Since my time in Africa, not a single day has passed without crafting something new and trying out new techniques.
In the process I have succeeded in engaging a growing community of friends, family, creative artists and outlets,
all with great enthusiasm.Our first steps were very straightforward to tyre recycling."
To start any story, we must start from the inception of an idea, of a journey, and the story of LAURA ZABO must not start from birth, but from the birth of her recycled tire accessory brand. In this case, it did not start in the Hungarian's birthplace or her adoptive London home, but in Tanzania.
Whilst exploring the East African country, Laura came across the vibrancy of the country's people, colours and spaces. Within this vibrancy she stumbled across the craft form of recycling old tyres to make sandals, which I have long associated with the region after my own discovery in northern Kenya. In this case, Laura found the technique to be applicable to not just sandals, but to accessories.
The tyre recycling idea captivated her instantly, a stunning combination of beautiful items, which she has always admired, and a recycling solution to a persistent problem. As one could imagine, tyres are by their very nature a recycling headache, they are difficult to break down and reuse and often just pile up becoming an eyesore. Let's not forget the environmental impacts tyres have, especially the burning of tyres (oye ve!). Hence, Laura saw an opportunity to transform the excess of this material into something that was could be reused in alternative ways. Currently, you can purchase a huge range of belts, jewellery, guitar straps, dog leads - and a whole lot more. However, stay tuned for more.
There is so much more to learn about Laura Zabo, that I could not help but include my interview with her below.
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ACCESSORIES DESIGNER?
I have always loved to learn new things and I love DIY, making and repairing things by myself. While I was exploring Tanzania I came across some brightly painted slippers made out of car tires. It was then that I realised that tires would be a fantastic material for making accessories I started a totally new chapter in my life, crafting tire accessories.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO USE TYRES AS YOUR MEDIUM AND FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE THEM?
It always made me sad to see scrap tires discarded in nature and to see how much unnecessary waste we create. I am so pleased to make such a positive use of an unwanted material, because it is a fantastic medium for creating unique fashion accessories and it seems that not many people have noticed the potential in it.
Every year we throw away approximately 3 billion tyres, so it is important that we find as many creative ways of reusing them as possible. I collect scrap or rejected tires from bicycle shops or manufacturers. Last August, German tire manufacturer, Schwalbe, donated around 5000 rejected tyres to me, which means I already saved about 1.5 to 2 tonnes of tires from landfill.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR BRAND ETHICAL OR SUSTAINABLE?
My brand is most definitely ethical and sustainable, because every tire is cruelty-free and saved from a fate in landfill. I use tires and inner tubes, and hopefully by upcycling really large quantities and inspiring others to do the same, it will make a significant impact on this planet.
WHICH IS YOUR BESTSELLER AND WHY DO YOU THINK IS IS SO POPULAR?
Tires are a great substitute for leather, so vegan and vegetarians really love my belts. My tire belts are very durable and long-lasting, plus the original designs and colours make them totally fashion-forward as well.
Some of my jewellery items are also bestsellers and my dog accessories are starting to become hugely popular. I prepare every piece with love and passion and I think that my business is expanding very well for that reason.
WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE TWO PIECES AND HOW DO YOU LIKE TO WEAR/STYLE THEM?
I really like the coloured belts made from a Schwalbe tyres, because the vibrant coloured stripes are very eye-catching. But I also love the worn tire belts because I love to paint them in cool colours. I have also started to design inner-tube ra-ra skirts, and I think this might be my new favourite item.
YOUR COLLECTION ALSO INCLUDES PET ACCESSORIES, NAMELY DOG LEADS. WHAT LED YOU TO DIVERSIFY INTO PETS?
I wanted to show just how many possibilities there are for reusing tires. I would love to bring tires into the public's consciousness so that more people will think of upcycling them in whatever way they can. Also, tires work absolutely perfectly as pet accessories as not only are they are cute and unique, but also soft, flexible, durable and of course, cruelty-free.
WHAT CURRENTLY INSPIRES YOU DURING YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I just use my imagination and anything I see I try to recreate using scrap tires! The more I craft, the more ideas I have; it is a continual process. I am thrilled that so many people enjoy the products I have created.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BRAND?
I am currently in the process of creating an amazing collection of tire flip flops, orthopaedic slippers and many other new products. Hopefully my brand will continue gaining momentum and together with my customers we can help to save the planet tire by tire.
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