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Oliver Wayman: Transforming Can Tabs to High Fashion

In conversation wtih Oliver Wayman, the Co-Founder of Bottle Top.

Hidden beneath the Technology advancement facade, was the story of sustainability and compassion. Bottle Top completely revolutionized what Eco products look and mean for us. When I first stepped into the store, I felt I was transported into what the future looks like with Technology infused with the best of Art.

The store, located in Regency street London, is definitely a show stopper, passer by were stopping their tracks as their eyes met with the 3D printing ‘birds’ that are displayed by the glass. If I hadn’t known better I thought I stepped into an alternate “Apple” store.

Through my conversation with Oliver, I was amazed by the detailed planning they put in every aspect possible. I could tell they were proud of their products (like how parents are with their own child were) as they held such high respect for it’s production. I was very much ensured that each product displayed had it’s story and it’s story is a positive impact for humanity.

Placing design over every aspect of the line. Bottle Top infuses the best of Technology, Sustainability, Functionality and Design together. With every step of the production process being curated to benefit the community and environment, Bottle Top products are hand crafted intricately with the best intention and beauty.

Would you like to share more with us about Bottle Top?

Bottle Top is a UK sustainable fashion brand and design led brand. Really with whose ethos DNA is to create design led products which can then be used or using sustainable materials whilst also having positive social impacts.

So we have a range of products, which are mainly fashion accessories (the handbags, clutch purses, belts). Most of them are all handmade in our Atelier in Brazil in Salvador Northeast Brazil. But we also have a range of products that we do in Kenya in East Africa and we’ve got forthcoming lines in different parts of the world as well.

So Bottle top was born out of the campaign through Mulberry in 2005 and it launched as a as a sort of fashion campaign. In 2002 the initial kind of concept was born and in 2011, we spawned off.  Like a social enterprise, to really drive the business elements of the fashion brand forward. We then started introducing lots of exciting designers, for instance the ex-head of accessory design for Louie Vuitton. We’ve subsequently did fantastic  collaborations with Narciso Rodriguez and Donna Karen. All to help show what’s possible within handmade products and using artisan crafts to produce these fashion accessories.

Do you think it’s important for brands to be sustainable?

Absolutely. So sustainability, I think soon shouldn’t be a choice, it should be a necessity. The world is is very rapidly turning changing in ways which are going to be catastrophic the human life and all life.  If we’re not careful with how we move forward with our materials very quickly Fashion will create issues. Fashion is one of  the biggest polluters in the world and we want to show that there’s a different way of being able to deal with fashion production. To which a lot of other brands are dealing with.

So sustainable materials are a key, in this case we use the recycled Ring pulls (Can tabs) and that’s our signature line. All of these can tabs are upcycled from the streets of Salvador Northeast Brazil and what’s  lovely about them is that they’re literally collected from cans that have been discarded. 20%  of them we can’t use because they’re either broken or bent. but the rest we can clean and crochet and hand braid into our into our enamel collections.

It’s a lovely kind of first step for us because it shows what can be possible by infusing recycled and sustainable materials.

I mean for instance the product you’ve got in your hand is using our own zero deforestation leather. this means that  none of the cattle (which the leather is derived from) have been  grazing on what was once the Amazon rain forest. it’s had a very huge impact in the deep forest of deforestation of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil in terms of global climate change. So if we’re able to reduce that through using more efficient herding techniques and using the same land as opposed to cutting down more Amazon rain forest.

It’s going to make systemic changes to how we can preserve one of the biggest and most of  the lungs of the planet effectively the biggest rain forest in the world. it’s  beautiful isn’t it.

Since it’s inception what has Bottle Top achieved?

Since the beginning we’ve always sought to create positive social impact so I thinking terms of achievement perhaps is setting up our atelier in Salvador Northeast Brazil and in which we’ve got some highly skilled people working and really refined production techniques to make our own products that’s an amazing impact and it’s something that we’re all very proud of.

We’ve also done a series of high-level collaborations for instance Donna Karen and Narciso Rodriguez as I  mentioned .

We’d sold in some of the best stores in the world from Harrods  to Holt Renew to Selfridges and now of course the new iteration, new phase in. What we’re doing now is our own brand retail, for instance the store in which we’re in now, which is just launched on Regent Street number 84.

This is going to be the first recycled printed store in the world and the concept behind this is using recycled plastic waste which is collected from everywhere from India to Dar es Salaam , Africa,  in Tanzania and we’re grinding  down these this recycled waste making it into a recycle plastic filament.

Robots such as the one in the window are printing this filament into the the fits out of the store now. We’ve calculated that just the whole store itself will be using over 60,000 recycled plastic bottles to create the fit out. it’s a significant number considering the size of the store, so this is all made from recycled plastic waste. It’s been layered, printed layer by layer by these cuckoo robots, using an amazing printing company called AI build who we partnered with to be able to do this. The whole store will create this  beautiful undulating wave effect, which has been designed by  Kraus architects so it’s really one of the most pioneering design partnerships in the world and one that will be groundbreaking in retail when it’s finished.

What’s Bottle Top’s motivation?

Yes, absolutely. The philosophy is to uses to use upcycle sustainable materials where possible and really look at the supply chains and try to use ones which have the most ethical supply chains as possible. But also not to sacrifice  design, you know the quality of the product is key and that’s something that we’ve stood very strong, next to in terms of a design aesthetic throughout. We’re not sacrificing the quality of the product would look, we want people to buy this product because it looks great and they’re happy with it and that’s it.  It’s like the fact that it also has an amazing sustainable story leave us a very positive social impact. It is a bonus but it’s not the reason why people are buying it the reason people buy it, is because it looks cool and that’s what gives the product longevity and that’s what makes the brand credible.

We want people to buy it because they  love the brand, they love the quality of the product and then of the look and as soon as you get that right, the whole journey becomes a lot easier. I think if you don’t get that part right it becomes a lot harder because you have to consistently tell the message around the sustainability of the product and its history.

but if you don’t like wearing it if you don’t like spotting it then it’s going to be very difficult for you to be able to build out and and continue to buy that product. Because quite frankly no one wants a product that you’re going to buy and would just sit at the bottom of your cupboard unused you know. You want it to be used as much as possible and we want all of our customers to be proud ambassadors to walk with it and to tell people what an amazing story this is.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability, I think means to use materials with as clear and transparent supply chain as possible. I know no brand will be perfect, in terms of being able to find out the exact journey of every component, but if you have it in  your mentality, in the company’s mentality. To be able to have this mindset of finding out how and where things have been made and you try to consistently improve, there are ways to improve those elements, those materials. I think that’s that’s the key to sustainability

Live more sustainable?

Absolutely yeah I think it is important to live more sustainable. I think you’ve probably seen bigger waves in food industries through the organic food revolution. Then you have in other industries, it’s starting to hit more in fashion but it’s taken a long time . It’s taken longer than we’d like. I’d like to think now that there’s more moves being made within the fashion sector and I think people are becoming  more conscious of certain things. Because of quite frankly the horrible stories to do with pesticides, in cotton, the textile coloring in various places in Asia.

So if there’s the bad working practices, I think now people are becoming  more conscious and more aware and I think they’re looking for alternatives. So what we can do is offer that with a great product and a very clear story showing how the materials are good and that and a working practices good.

What’s your advice for the others?

Start thinking about where and how your products are made and start finding (if you can) sustainable options. There are more in the market than ever have been and this sort of continued to be the case. The more that the consumer becomes educated around what the products are and where they’re made, they start to make informed choices. Then soon, we will start to see companies changing their their methods of production and will get hopefully a better and more sustainable planet for us to all be able to enjoy. And not carry on this this devastating destruction which is  happening at the moment.


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