Behind The Scenes at Elvis & Kresse

If you’re into sustainable fashion, you’ll likely have heard of Elvis & Kresse. Their brand is synonymous with the upcycled fire-hose they source from the London Fire Brigade. Their bags and belts are iconic. They were one of the first ever B-Corp fashion brands. But how much do you really know about them?

After spending two days at their workshop in the Kent countryside, I’m so very deeply inspired by their work and vision. The brand stands for so much more than bags and belts, and yet, it’s likely what you want to know more about if you’re reading this review. So here’s my deep-dive into the world of Elvis & Kresse, as well as a personal review of their designs, and my new keepsake – a fire-hose red West End Belt*!

Who Are Elvis & Kresse?

Kresse Wesling and her partner Elvis started their eponymous fashion brand back in 2005. Their story starts with Kresse having a light-bulb moment after a chance encounter with a member of the London Fire Brigade at a conference. The firefighter had mentioned his distaste at the amount of fire-hose being sent to landfill; due to the nature of the job, fire-hose has to be decommissioned at 25 years of use, despite much of it being usable far past this time. As a true circular fashion pioneer, Kresse recognised this waste as a resource, and set about designing a second-life for decommissioned fire-hose. And so, Elvis & Kresse was born!

Since that fateful day back in 2005, the duo have been making bags, belts, and similar accessories from rescued fire-hose from the London Fire Brigade. Today, they are based in Faversham, where their home, workshop, and farm are located. On their site, they say “the future of luxury is sustainable, ethical, reclaimed, open, generous, and kind” and they really do put this into practice, with their workshop being open to the public, and their generosity being showered upon me during my very own visit!

The Circular World of Elvis & Kresse

Today, Elvis & Kresse is recognised as a pioneering circular fashion brand. They put circular fashion principles into practice back in 2005, and have continued to do so, from the earliest design stage through to the final impact of each product. Alongside working with decommissioned fire-hose, they now also source leather offcuts from Burberry through their five-year partnership with the luxury fashion house. And, the duo are always on the lookout for new materials to work with, as I discovered when chatting with Kresse over coffee while sat in their workshop, sparkly metal waste from ceiling tiles spread across the table in-front of us – Kresse’s latest idea.

It’s clear that this is where the duo really thrive, with Kresse discovering and inventing, and Elvis engineering and creating. Elvis noted that their work “never really feels like work”, and they will continuously discuss and develop ideas while driving or walking their dog, Monty. It seems they’ve created their own circular utopia, and honestly, I’m sold!

Outside of textile innovations, E&K have also designed circular and regenerative solutions to problems they have faced as they have grown their brand. They receive between three and 10 tonnes of fire-hose each year, so they need quite a lot of space to house this. This is in addition to the space needed to carry out each step of production, which they do in-house. So, they built a barn that is near passive, using solar panels for energy, heat pumps for heat, and very good insulation so very little energy is actually needed.

To wash the hose, the team struggled to find a washing machine powerful enough to do the job, and so had Electrolux make a custom machine. Then, instead of another machine, they simply use the barn’s underfloor heating to dry the hose.

“We Are Not A Maison, We Are A Farm”

And what about environmental impact? Well, this is where their farm comes in. The duo are currently two years into a five-year plan to grow a vineyard. They landed on this solution after surveying the land they bought and realising it was in such bad shape – the previous landowner had grown and sold turf, removing the healthy topsoil, and the ground underneath is chalk. But grapes thrive in these conditions, and with the help of a yeoman’s plough, an innovative wetland system, and new inventions they like to call “humanure” and “compost tea”, they’re bringing life back to the land, while sequestering tonnes of carbon.

My Review of Elvis & Kresse

When I discovered Elvis & Kresse years ago my first impression was, that’s cool, but their collection isn’t my style. I think I was a little short-sighted with this decision, but I do still have an internal struggle with the brighter colours and contrasting details on their bags especially (you know me, I want everything minimal and monochromatic!)

Today, I’ve come to appreciate circular items that showcase what they were in a past life. My Anti Lamp looks like the umbrella it once was. And my West End Belt* also does this very well. Knowing the backstory – and being able to tell it when you inevitably get questions – can also be somewhat of a draw. But I get the impression their range is like liquorice – you’re either obsessed, or turned off.

My Top Picks From E&K

Skinny Stitch Belt
Small Post Bag
Disco Bag
West End Belt
Tote Bag
Square Tote
Skinny Stitch Belt
Small Post Bag
Disco Bag
West End Belt
Tote Bag
Square Tote
Skinny Stitch Belt
Small Post Bag
Disco Bag
West End Belt
Tote Bag
Square Tote

If you are looking for classic and minimalist designs within the Elvis & Kresse range, my top picks are the Fire & Hide Square Tote in White*, the Tote Bag in Black*, and the Skinny Stitch Belts*.

However, from a style standpoint, I’d really like to see Elvis & Kresse collaborate with different designers. Imagine the possibilities of a collab with Been London*, Mashu*, or Sonya Lee!


One thing I will say is that Elvis & Kresse’s bags, belts, and purses will last a lifetime. They’re incredibly well made, and fire hose is an exceptionally strong material. While I was visiting, I met Lana, a member of the workshop team, who made my West End Belt right in-front of me. The process is simple yet rigorous, and with the brass hardware, I know I can rely on this belt to hold up my trousers for years to come.

And regarding sustainability, Elvis & Kresse get full marks. I’d give them more if I could. If only all brands could operate this way!

My Overall Rating: 9/10

Elvis & Kresse are years ahead of the fashion industry with their sustainable approach. They take a true circular and regenerative approach to their designs, business, and lifestyle. Their products are iconic and made to last. And if you get the chance to visit their workshop, I highly recommend it!

The reason I haven’t given the brand a perfect score is due to my hesitation over their designs. They are a luxury brand through the quality of their pieces, their radical transparency, and their holistic approach to sustainability. They’ll forever feature in my guide to sustainable bags. However, I’d like to see their designs echo this. I can almost feel the potential of a timeless classic within them, but they haven’t got there yet. I just know they have the potential to design the next Loewe Puzzle Bag, or APC Demi Lune Bag! That will be the day I make this a 10/10.

Disclaimer: This post features affiliate links (denoted '*') and a gifted item (denoted 'gifted').

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