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THE CONSCIOUS CRAFT OF SANS BEAST

THE SOURCING

We are particular about the raw materials that we use.  We challenge the commonly held view that synthetic materials are inferior to leather, and instead choose not to ignore the inherent exploitation + disastrous environmental concerns that go hand in hand with leather production and tanning.

While being cruelty free is of optimum importance to us at Sans Beast, so too is the environment - and despite marketing folklore, synthetic + most certainly biobased 'leathers' have a far lower environmental impact than animal based leathers.

From the start, we have worked to find materials that stand up to the aesthetic and tactile vision for Sans Beast and are created responsibly, adhering to international chemical + toxicity standards.

Our collection is made up of virgin, recycled + bio-based fabrics, all constructed to emulate the hides from the animal kingdom - without the cruelty. Our polyurethane coated fabrics are responsibly made (REACH + Prop65 certified) and an increasing proportion (approx. 78% of our collection from August 2022) has been made using pre + post consumer recycled polyester and PU that is water based + solvent free. The recycled materials we use are Global Recycled Standardcertified. We also produce styles in cactus leather from Desserto, which is a low impact organic material that is partially biodegradable. 

2023 + future collections will see us move to zero virgin materials in our offering. We’d rather not virtue signal now about the specifics of what is coming in the materials space to our range – but it’s exciting + we hope if you’ve read this far, you’ll continue on the Sans Beast journey with us.

It's important for us to point out, we are not suggesting perfection.  Our pieces are not going to disappear from the earth any time soon – neither is that chrome tanned, heavily sprayed leather handbag or a pair of shoes – but we fundamentally believe that adored pieces don’t go to landfill. They are treasured, collected, shared, repaired + upcycled. 

We design pieces with spirit + integrity for people who will love them, and we’ll continue on our journey to source materials that align with our twin values of being cruelty free + environmentally responsible.

THE DESIGN

Hopefully by now, you've watched the films A Makers View, and you have some idea of what the factory looks like + who Tony Lee is.  Our design process is closely linked to our relationship with the factory.  Sketching involves the shapes + the internals, but also the hardware + trimmings that are to be used.  Patterns then need to be made by Tony's team, in Dongguan, moulds for the metal are completed by the hardware factory + artwork as required, is created.  In order to get the styles right, we do at least two rounds of sampling, plus a full coloured range of samples for photography + press, and this process can take up to 6 months.

THE PRODUCTION

We produce at SingFai Handbags in the Dongguan area of Southern China which is owned + run by Tony + his brother Sing.  The factory employs approximately 350 staff, with 50/50 men + women.  Food + accommodation is provided, as is typical in China factories, and wages are above regional award, as certified by both Intertek + ESTS (Sedex approved) audits (most recent one undertaken in April 2021. 

The production period goes for approximately 3 months, depending on material availability + it is a constant communication with the factory + the Sans Beast team to ensure all details remain on track. An exceptional relationship is called for in order for this to run smoothly. 

The history of Cathryn working with Tony + his team in Dongguan, China, for 14 years, results in a trusting + communicative relationship.  Our collections would not come together without his extreme care & attention to detail.

PACKED: FACTORY TO SB

Packaging is a fraught area of the final production process.  Goods need to be shipped + this means they're sitting in a box + on a vessel for up to 4 weeks.  We transitioned 85% of our production from being packed into traditional plastic poly bags to water soluble bags midway through 2019. 

From Series 10 (launching in August 2022) 100% of our collection will be packaged in water soluble bags that are biodegradable, compostable and soluble in hot water. The material is harmless to animals, plants + humans.

It took time, effort + investment to get there - but it was a really positive step forward.  Yet, we have further to go: there is still plastic in our supply chain from factory to SB.  We will keep our community updated with any + all progress in this area.  

PACKED: FROM SB TO YOU

When you place an order, first, we say one of the following things: yay, thank you, brilliant, cheers, oooh that's a good choice...etc.  Then, we get to preparing your order.  John is the main human in our warehouse + he is a stickler for detail. 

He hand writes a card for you (printed by Castlemaine small business, Print Together, on post consumer recycled paper with eco friendly inks), gets all the address labels sorted, checks that your purchase is perfect, rejects items that don't adhere to his high standards, then packs your treasure in its recycled cotton, undyed Sans Beast dust bag, carefully wraps it in the NoIssue branded paper (soy printed on paper from FSC sources), seals it with a sticker, and pops it in a recycled + recyclable cardboard box + seals the package with water activated paper tape. 

Yes, it's a process, and we are asked not to get in his way.  Short of sealing it with a kiss, these parcels are sent with love + dedication.  Hell, if you live close to the studio or our home, John rides his bike + hand delivers it. Amazon he is not, fabulously niche he is.

"Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem."

A.A. Milne

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The Craft of Sans Beast - How We Create Our Cruelty Free Bags