Anya Hindmarch - a triptych

4 January 2023
Anya Hindmarch founded her business in London in 1987. The luxury brand is now known for its ground-breaking work in sustainability. It is committed to creating responsibly, and striving to innovate to reduce its impact on the earth, whilst also using its platform to drive education and discussion around the subject. This is demonstrated by the triptych of bags on display here.

Creativity, modern craftsmanship and personalisation sit at the heart of everything Anya Hindmarch does. She is a passionate advocate of British design and arts and is an Emeritus trustee of both the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Museum. In 2017, Anya Hindmarch was awarded a CBE in recognition for her contribution to the British fashion industry.

Behind the sustainability work of Anya Hindmarch is the manta ‘progress, not perfection.’

I'm not a plastic bag, 2007, 
Anya Hindmarch, We Are What We Do
I'm not a plastics bag

This canvas tote was marketed as part of an anti-plastic bag campaign in association with We Are What We Do. Working alongside the creative agency Antidote, the promotion of the bag was designed to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags used by changing the behaviour of middle-class women. Hindmarch herself commented on how fashion can persuade people that ‘it’s not cool to use a plastic bag.’ At the time, Hindmarch’s handbags were retailing upwards of £700, so the appearance of a bag by such a prominent designer at the price of just £5 in the UK, USA, Japan, and Taiwan caused a significant reaction. The limited number of bags produced also enhanced the excitement with, in some cases, kilometre-long queues outside shops being reported. The bag sold out in all four countries in as little as five hours. They generated much publicity for the campaign within the media. US Vanity Fair magazine gave them away as a goodie bag at their Oscar Party. As such, many celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Mischa Barton, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Erin O’Connor, and Lily Cole, were seen with them.

It was suggested that the long queues of people waiting to purchase the bag were made up of green-consumers wanting to wear their eco-credentials on their arms. However, many of the bags quickly ended up on auction sites for inflated prices.

I am a plastic bag, 2020
Anya Hindmarch
I am a plastic bag

This black and white shopping bag is from the ‘I am a plastic bag’ collection and is a continuation of the ‘I am not a plastic bag’ campaign. This bag, designed to never be thrown away, is made from a cotton canvas-feel material created using 32 half-litre plastic bottles and then coated with polyvinyl butyral (PVB) used to stop car windscreens from shattering.

It took two years of research to create the cotton canvas-like fabric and coating, which is made in Taiwan. The country is world leading in recycling and innovation. The bags are crafted in Florence, with the leather coming from an Italian Gold standard Working Group Tannery. The company’s aim is to also make the plastic fabric in Italy to reduce carbon footprint.

To promote the launch of the product range, instead of doing a London Fashion Week show, Hindmarch filled her 3 flagship shops in London with 90,000 bottles as a way of drawing attention to the waste generated by using single-use bottles.

Universal bag, 2021
Anya Hindmarch, Solent Group, Sainsbury’s

This large purple tote bag is the latest by Anya Hindmarch to contribute to the debate on the material value of plastics. It was made by the Solent Group (Solent International Ltd) for Sainsbury’s, with a green version being available through Waitrose.

The Universal bag is intended to tackle a number of sustainability problems by being desirable, durable, and reusable. It is made of 100% recycled materials and is, itself, 100% recyclable. The bag has a 10-year guarantee, however, when it gets to the end of its useful life it can be easily returned to the manufacturer. The bag can be folded up into the internal pouch which creates a parcel with a pre-paid Freepost returns label. At this point it can be placed in a postbox. Once with the manufacturer, it can be recycled locally.

Louise Dennis, Curator of MoDiP