Elevate your life, sustainably
Elevate your life, sustainably

Phillip Lim Wants More ‘Responsible Luxury’. So He Made a Bag From Volvo’s Sustainable Leather.

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Volvo and designer Phillip Lim have teamed up on a new sustainable weekend bag made with the Swedish car company’s new vegan leather.

In a move to further cement Volvo as the leader in vegan automotive leather, the brand is bringing its bio leather to a limited-edition bag designed by Lim.

The launch comes on the heels of Volvo’s announcement last month that all future EVs will be leather-free, beginning with its first EV, the C40 Recharge.

The company is now using Nordico, its custom vegan leather interior material in its new electric vehicles. The vegan leather is made from recycled and bio-based materials.

Volvo x Phillip Lim 3.1

The partnership came as a result of a shared sustainability commitment between Volvo Cars and Phillip Lim, the brands said.

The limited-edition bag is inspired by classic luggage design with a nod to Volvo’s Scandinavian design roots.

“Using Volvo’s new sustainable material Nordico, we were able to showcase the versatility of the fabric and symbolize how animal-based materials can be replaced without compromising function or beauty,” Lim said.

Phillip Lim goes sustainable

Lim began the brand’s shift toward sustainable luxury several years ago. His 2016 spring show featured a collaboration with the artist Maya Lin. That installation, part of the “Stop and Smell the Flowers” themed show, featured 600 tons of compost to create a giant dirt mound that was positioned behind the models.

Lin’s most recent installation in New York, “Ghost Forest,” is a forest built of trees that fell victim to climate change. It features 49 Atlantic cedar trees killed by rising sea levels. Over the course of the installment period, which runs until November 14, 2021, the trees will lose their color and turn a “ghostly” grey aimed at contrasting with the Midtown Manhattan park’s naturally green landscape.

When Lim partnered with Lin in 2016, it was because the designer said he didn’t want to do a ‘best of’ collection or a retrospective, “because that felt really egotistical—and 10 years is nothing,” Lim told Vogue.

“The compost dirt symbolized the need to go back to where things come from, not just the results. That was our first ‘outward action’ for sustainability, but the response was pretty much [nonexistent]. Everyone just wanted to talk about the anniversary! I think if we did that show today, it would be like, Whoa. Everyone would get it.”

The designer has since embraced organic, natural, and recycled materials. By 2020, 40 percent of the designer’s collection was sustainable or organic, up from just eight percent in previous collections. That number, he says, will increase each collection.

“What I used to do was so siloed, and it was only about what I wanted to make, without consideration of what it meant or how it might help or hurt [people and the planet]. Now we’re trying to readjust and go back to the reasons we started this business, but moving it forward with new intentions we’ve learned through this 15-year journey,” Lim said. “It’s like taking the best of what we’ve done and adding this experience [and new knowledge] to it.”

Volvo’s sustainability commitments

Volvo has been steadily increasing its shift toward more sustainable options, beginning with its commitment to an all-EV fleet over the next decade.

“I am totally convinced there will no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson told reporters last spring. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.”

Last month, ahead of its announcement it was going leather-free, the brand partnered with Canadian footwear company Casca to launch vegan leather shoes. That move came on World Car Free Day. Volvo said it wants to encourage its customers to walk more whenever possible.

Now, they can travel more sustainably too, with the new Phillip Lim bag. Although it won’t be available for purchase, it will be offered through select giveaways, initiatives, and auctions, the brands say.

Related: Volvo Wants You to Ditch Cars More Often. It Made Vegan Sneakers to Help.

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