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Upcycling ... with Doreen Westphal

If you read our launch blog post, then you’ll remember us talking about our enthusiasm for quality bags, in particular bags that have a story to tell. Our strong environmentally aware ethos motivates us to select our bag brands very carefully, and in doing so, we make sure we stock brands that try their best to be eco-friendly and offer recyclable products.

One designer who is particularly conscious of the world around is Doreen Westphal. Westphal’s creations are environmentally aware, and she conducts the entire production process of her bags herself, using high quality leather off-cuts from a shoe and bag manufacturer in south Bulgaria. This process is known in the creative world of “upcycling”.


Upcycling is the process of taking an item that is no longer needed or wanted and giving it a new life as something which is either useful or creative. This very basic concept has sparked a new revolution with a lot of designers, and has experienced an increase in use over recent years, both due to it’s marketability, but also because of its lower cost.

In 2002, William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ brought the term into the public eye, and solidified its use in pop culture. McDonough and Braungart were pioneers in the field of upcycling, advocating that we should all strive to extend a product's life. Today, that idea is interpreted as meaning we should create from what is being discarded; whenever possible.


Upcycling is something everyone can try, there are thousands of ways to upcycle everyday products into new innovations. Old leather jackets can be upcycled into brand new fashion accessories or even home decorations. Before you decide to throw away old clothing consider what you could transform it into. Leather is a commonly upcycled material, however you can upcycle all types of material, old dresses can be turned into aprons and rags into rugs. By learning more about everyday materials, we can create beautiful innovations just like Westphal. 

If you’d like to find out more information about Doreen Westphal, and her unique bag collection you can find the well known Measure Tote Bag and other bags in the Mensch Made Collection on