Rust & Fray Is Crafting Beautiful Upcycled Bags & Creating Sustainable Jobs


Rust & Fray is a New York City based sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand that creates beautiful and ethical upcycled bags and accessories. The fashion company strives to make high quality products while being environmentally conscious by using excess materials from global factories to produce their garments. Rust & Fray also collaborates with small entrepreneurs to employ underprivileged workers and provides all employees with fair wages and great working conditions.

See below for a Q & A with the Team of Rust and Fray. 


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How did Rust & Fray begin? Tell us your story!

Rust & Fray began from a design concept – providing limited-run bags at consistent quality levels. Bags, like all other fashion accessories, are unique to the user – but the mass-producing industry does not permit the granularity of handcrafted craftsmanship. On the other hand, boutique producers fail to maintain a consistent quality and design of output. Rust & Fray aims to bridge that gap.

We found that we could source leftover materials – leather, vegan leather, fabric, metal accessories – from large manufacturers and hand pick materials that are of high quality and are in good physical condition. Then we hit the drawing board to design bags around these excess materials and upcycle them. Finally, we found underprivileged artisans that are eager to work efficiently under fair working conditions. We brought these three factors together and Rust & Fray was born.

Where does Rust & Fray source all its up-cycled materials?

Currently, Rust & Fray sources its up-cycled materials from Bangladesh – where the founders are from and the country is the second-largest global manufacturer of readymade garments. In coming years, Rust & Fray plans to source its upcycled materials from other developing nations.

Rust and Fray Upcycled Bags

Explain your “few-of-a-kind” mandate

Our few-of-a-kind mandate is an inevitable outcome of our sourcing and manufacturing process. We work with whats available for us, and since we source quality leftover materials to make our bags – the bags end up being limited-run and a signature style for the user.

Tell us more about the entrepreneurs and underprivileged workers making your unique handbags and products!

The entrepreneurs that make our bags are small in size, employing less than 50 employees. They provide fair working conditions for their employees, including fair wage and employing individuals over 18 yrs of age. They are dedicated to the concept of quality and accept rejections based on poor materials or workmanship. In turn, we provide them with fair prices and convenient payment schedules.

The underprivileged workers and artisans that work in these small factories are from low income households, are of legal working age, and have several years of work experience in the bag industry. Rust & Fray works closely with the small entrepreneurs employing these individuals to ensure fair wage and fair working conditions for all.

What other opportunities are Rust & Fray getting involved in to give back to the community?

Rust & Fray is getting involved in – i) generating original content that promote practical, sustainable practices amongst the general populace, ii) promoting artists and creators by highlighting their talent as part of Rust & Fray’s greater media campaigns, and iii) innovating to bring about the use of even more environment-friendly materials in bags construction, e.g. jute.

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