BennyBee was created in 2014 when we decided we wanted to build a brand that marches to the beat of its own drum. A brand that unlike most, does not compromise on quality, sustainability or ethics. A brand that does not cut corners and can truly sign its name under the terms ‘slow-fashion’ and ‘sustainability’! We wanted not only to talk the talk but to walk the walk.
The BennyBee team dedicates itself to creating the highest quality handcrafted leather goods made using only sustainable, natural materials and traditional techniques. The purpose of our designs go far beyond aesthetics; these bags are meant to last a lifetime!
SUSTAINABILITY, ETHICAL FASHION, AND SLOW-FASHION. WHAT DO THEY EVEN MEAN?
We are sure you are completely bombarded with talk of sustainability, ethical fashion, and slow-fashion all over the place nowadays. Still, they are difficult topics to discuss because the terms are so misused and abused that they have lost all meaning and lately seem to be more of a jargon/marketing tactic for brands to comply with trends than a true philosophy. It saddens us to see concepts which should convey responsibility and trust being so overly used and corrupted to the point where they actually obscure the real issues.
For this reason, we’d like to take this space to be 100% honest and transparent with you, clear up any confusion, and explain what it really means to be a sustainable, ethical, slow-fashion brand.
Sustainability is all about the effects that a product and its production have on the environment. First and foremost, there are many ways in which a brand can be sustainable. The list of opportunities that companies have to ensure more sustainable processes are endless – not to mean they take them on – ranging from materials used to waste disposal.
BennyBee’s main focus when it comes to sustainability is using only natural and extremely durable materials, avoiding waste, guaranteeing low energy usage, and developing products that will last years and years to come. Let me explain:
- We exclusively work with vegetable tanned, full grain leather. Veg tanned means that before arriving in our workshop the hides are treated with plant-based dyes, as opposed to chemicals. This means that the tanning process causes much less harm to the environment and the finished product is completely biodegradable. Full-grain on the other hand is the highest possible grade of leather money can buy! It is leather which retains the top layer of the animal’s skin, maintaining all its unique characteristics. This means less waste and much more durability, as the top layer is not brushed off and disposed of as seen with genuine leather, which is the lowest possible quality grade.
- Our items are handmade, beginning to end! This includes stitching. All BennyBee products are entirely saddle-stitched: this is a traditional and highly time consuming technique which involves two needles + thick waxed threads being sewn in opposite directions, resulting in a seam that does not unravel, unlike machine sewn stiches. Hand stitching composes the most durable product possible. One item takes around 15hrs to assemble, which is why this method is such a rare find.
- Handmade also means there is very limited use of machinery, and thus less energy consumed by our workshop.
- Durability resulting from the leather and assembly technique described above means that BennyBee products are going to last much longer, and will probably even be passed on to your children! This means less wasteful and unnecessary consumption and consequently reduced use of natural resources.
Ethical fashion is a similar concept referring to how products are made, encompassing how/where the materials are sourced and the working conditions of company employees (fair pay, safety, compliance with labour laws, etc).
BennyBee is no doubt a truly ethical fashion brand in all stages of sourcing and production. Read on for all the deets:
- Remember that thing about vegetable tanned? Well, there’s more… The vegetable tanning process takes about 8 weeks, which is a very long time nowadays when we’re so used to having everything in the blink of an eye. This time restraint makes this kind of material very rare and consequently expensive. That’s why you will almost never find vegetable tanned leather on the high-street – most companies aren’t willing to wait and pay for quality and ethics, rather buying from factories in underdeveloped counties where working conditions are dangerous and unfair. The chemicals used in the chrome tanning process, other than diminishing the durability and quality of the leather, is extremely dangerous and harmful to the workers and can cause all sorts of skin conditions and diseases – even cancer. Not to mention unfair wages and dangerous work environments.
- Well, tanneries specialising in vegetable tanned leather are the complete opposite: are very rare and traditional. Most are family businesses that have been around for many generations. We source and handpick our leather from suppliers in Central Europe whose tanneries we often visit and maintain relationships with.
- What about our own workshop? Well, that’s even more special! We are also a family business and run a small team of 8 in a farmhouse where Dani (the BB founder) and his brother grew up. The house was converted into an awesome workspace where our team members work in total freedom. Our employees’ wellbeing is one of our top priorities. We are not looking to expand to a mega group; we just want to make sure everyone is taken care of and that each and every product stays true to our core values.
Slow-fashion generally refers to the style, design, and quality of the items. A slow-fashion brand will prioritise making fewer items using the most durable materials and offering timeless designs (instead of jumping on trend bandwagons) that remain relevant for years to come – just like BennyBee!
- Everything we explained above about vegetable tanned, full-grain leather, and saddle stitching guarantee that our bags are of the highest possible quality and durability. We’re not joking when we say that our bags are meant to last a lifetime!
- Our designs are minimalist and gender neutral. Your BennyBee bag should go with everything. After all, you will be wearing it for decades!
- Unlike most fashion brands, we do not create seasonal collections that come and go in the blink of an eye. This common fast-passed take, enabled by globalisation (allowing companies to exploit cheap and unethical labour and materials) and industrial production methods (such as chrome tanning and mass produced assembly lines) causes high street fashion to be available at incredibly low prices and fast speeds and much of it becomes regarded as disposable. The disposable nature of fast-fashion results in a lot of waste being sent off to incinerators or landfill sites. The UK alone throws away 1 million tonnes of clothing every year! BennyBee goes against this norm, making items to order that last! The idea is that you will be able to buy fewer things that last longer!
- Taking it slow and not following trends does not mean we lack in style. We love designing and have so many ideas. We just take our sweet time to get each and every item perfect so you can express yourself through your fashion.
Why are you telling us all this though?
Honestly? Because we care.
How are we meant to expect consumers to develop more sustainable and conscious habits if we as a brand aren’t totally open and honest? It really saddens our team to see language be twisted as terms like ‘slow-fashion’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘ethical’ are corrupted and misused as trendy sales tactics. It means that truly slow-fashion luxury brands like ours get lost in the crowd and conscious caring consumers are left in a sea of confusion.
So this is us opening the curtain and shedding some light on what is real, to help you clearly define the terms you so often hear of so you can be conscious and critical of ours and any other brand you may come across.
Seeing as a picture is worth 1000 words, have a look at these:
meet the team
founder & director
Born in Slovakia, Dani moved to Scotland for studies, where he founded BennyBee. In addition to leathercarft, his passions include road cycling, gymnastics, cook- ing, and beekeeping.
Art & marketing director
Mari is originally from Brazil, having moved to Europe for studies. She loves fashion, art, photography and road cycling.
Ben is the head of the workshop and Dani’s brother. In addition to being a master leathersmith, he is an expert woodworker and loves taking care of the farmhouse.
Robert is an exceptional leatherworker who loves what he does. In his free time his favorite thing to do is DJ and spend time with his family.
Bozena is extremely kind, positive and hardworking. When she is not beautiful- ly crafting leather she is gardening and enjoying Buddy’s company.
packaging & logistics
Tomas is originally from Czech Republic and is in charge of all things packaging and logistics. When he is not getting your items ready to ship off, he enjoys music, art, and graphic design.
Viktor is always ready to help out around the workshop and farmhouse. He has a can-do attitude and loves to make gou- lash and bbqs for the team.
Buddy loves hanging out and enjoys working obstructively with the team.