The friendly fire engine that sparked an idea
KB began life in the back of a converted fire engine. This formerly utilitarian vehicle was home to head designer Katcha while she was travelling Portugal in 1998. And in a fire engine, the spark of an idea took flame – if a vehicle destined for the crusher could become a home, then what could a discarded tyre be transformed into?
I became so aware of the abandoned materials that were around me and it struck me that, with some imagination, they could be reconstructed into something beautiful and useful.
Using traditional Spanish leather-working techniques, Katcha began to transform unwanted inner tubes into beautifully designed bags – and sold them straight from the back of the fire engine.
Upcycler to the Stars
Katcha returned to the UK in 2008 to set up her design studio in Stokes Croft, Bristol’s progressive artists’ quarter. Since then she’s upcycled inner tubes, tyres and computer parts into everything from laptop bags, to belts, to chandeliers – and even the famous car tyre crocodiles.
From the brand’s unconventional fire engine beginnings, KB is now a global brand with upcycled products in boutiques as far away as Tokyo. KB products grace the shoulders of fashionistas, business people, and even Brit Award winning stars who love the fact that, even with their recognisable design aesthetic, each KB product is slightly unique. No matter how global KB becomes, materials remain locally sourced, and the designs remain an alternative that defines eco-friendly, loveable fashion.