UK company puts the cycle in its recycled fashion range

Katcha Bilek forges handbags out of inner tubes

Bristol-based Katcha Bilek has created a business that innovatively uses old materials from the bicycle world and beyond for a stylish range of one-of-a-kind accessories, bags and art installations.

Exhibiting at Best of Britannia Show at the Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell, London earlier this month, the firm showed off its line-up including belts made from cycle tyres and hand bags forged from spent inner tubes.

"It was originally a hobby I started in 1999, then set up as a business in 2008," artistic director Katcha Bilek told BikeBiz. Bilek was living and travelling in a converted fire engine, where she got the eco-crafted bug, then moving to Bristol’s arts centre of Stokes Croft where she set the company up. Since then the label has featured on ITV and in The Courvoisier Future 500 and other lists focused on new talents from different disciplines.

Bilek and the team get their tyres and tubes from the nearby Bristol Bike Project. The Project provides them with unwanted tyres that have already been recycled, so they are recycled at least twice by the time they end up in a Katcha Bilek design.

While the label has yet to retail its products through a bike shop, it wouldn’t rule it out, as Bilek explained: "I have talked about it but never had the time to implement it. We could run something along the lines of ‘when your old tyre is worn and needs replacing, get it made into a belt!’ So I would definitely consider it if anyone’s interested."

BIke tyres are used for all the belts the label produces, while the bags use bicycle tubes alongside those from tractors and lorries. Recycled materials – not necessarily originating in the cycle industry – are also used for unique furniture and chandeliers.

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