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Melbourne-based label Use Daily is turning discarded outdoor materials into my new favourite bags

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESS BROHIER 

WORDS BY AASTHA AGRAWAL

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we can turn waste into a new item.”

Not many labels owe their existence to a discarded awning, but Australian designers Cleo Coppinger and Josh Anderson saw potential in a scavenged textile. In the midst of Melbourne’s harsh lockdown last year, they made use of the awning in question and founded bag brand Use Daily

Use Daily rejects mass production and uses only found and discarded materials. Its sustainable, durable, and water-resistant bags are made from discarded outdoor materials like awnings, tents, and tarps, and, as the name implies, they’re ideal for daily use. 


Keep up to date with ethical designers over at our Fashion section. 


Ahead of the launch of the label’s new collection, Various Origins, I spoke to Cleo and Josh about the time-consuming nature of sourcing their materials and what it’s like being part of the growing global community of designers and makers who are disrupting the cycle of mass production and waste.

Hey Cleo and Josh! For those coming across Use Daily for the first time, could you please introduce yourselves and your brand?

Cleo: Hey, I’m Cleo, and the two of us met during an interior design course at RMIT. I also have a background in fashion. Use Daily is a brand we started as a way to express ourselves post-honours degree and it revolves around wasted material and ways to oppose the mass production/mass waste model.

Josh: I’m Josh, and I come from a background in carpentry and building. There is a residential aspect to my work and so it was a pretty seamless transition into Use Daily. I would continuously see suburban houses being demolished and flattened; the history and quirky suburban aspect going away in what seemed to be within the blink of an eye, inspiring the use of awnings as a symbol of rapid change and development. 

Could you tell me about the inspiration behind the pieces you make for Use Daily? 

J: Use Daily [was] established early last year, around February. I had bought an awning and it sat in my carport. 

C: And because of the pandemic we were both spending a lot of time at home, getting a bit fidgety and wondering ‘What can we do with all the time on our hands’ [and] wanting to go through that design process again. We took a look at the awning and were taken aback by the quality being so sturdy and waterproof which inspired us to make something with it. We started to test the properties of the material and we thought making a bag would be really great as it could have a fun-looking pattern to it, with all the stripes. Even now, our designs are often influenced by the material itself. 

 

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How is the brand coming along so far? It’s all pretty new having only been established in 2020.

J: I think it all happened really fast. There’s a lot we have learned along the way and we’ve had guidance from people who’ve done it before and who are still doing it. We are really trying to make ourselves as community-minded as possible. We have options where we can drop off the bags to our customers, or they can come around our house to pick them up, which has made the purchase a social event with a bag transaction. 

C: Especially post-pandemic, it has been really nice to be able to connect to our customers on a personal level again. Often when bags are dropped off, we get to hear about memories or feelings that have been attached to the material and that is an important part for us.

Do you make pieces to order or do you release collections?

C: Our new collection, Various Origins, came from collecting material over the past year. The name itself comes from blending several types of materials, which were sourced from different places. With the first batch of bags we made, we played around with putting things together, however, this collection has been designed with a lot more consideration. We’ve spent a lot of time working on the products, and despite the fact that they’re from waste material, we pride ourselves on the fact that we can turn waste into a new item. Creating whilst being environmentally conscious is very important to us.

How long do your products take to make and what are some things you have to keep in mind when making the pieces? 

C: Josh and I do the sourcing, cutting, cleaning, designing, and half the sewing. From there, our friend, Venessa Flynn, finishes up the rest of the sewing. The actual process of putting the bag together is quite quick, it can be done in about half an hour. It’s more the greater process and behind-the-scenes of sourcing the material that takes time because it comes from tips, roadsides, and demolition sites, and it is very time-consuming. We then have to cut, wash and design the material, as well as test things out to see how they fit together and what the properties of the material are. 

J: Material is often destroyed because of sun exposure or is in a very dirty condition and so each awning takes a lot of care. The process is really thought-out and meticulous, and because the materials can vary, they all require different care.

 

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What are some challenges you have faced as a small business?

J: I think just starting the business was a big challenge. The aspect of having responsibility for a business has been a lot, but other than that we haven’t had difficulties in sourcing the materials and we haven’t had any shortages which I think is a pretty good indication. 

C: It was challenging to be in a weird in-between point where we had to make the decision to get a studio, which was a bit stressful. We were working from our share-houses and we were running out of storage space. I’m glad we took that leap and got a studio because I don’t think we’d be doing what we’re doing now if we were still doing it from home. Also, just figuring out how to work together, and manage our time, as we have other jobs on the side has been a big challenge.

What are your future goals for Use Daily? Anything exciting coming up?

J: It’s all very secret!

C: We’re working on some exciting things at the moment! Through finding all the material over time, we’ve also been collecting things like steel poles, for example, alongside awnings, so we’re looking at working on some furniture designs towards the end of this year, so you’ll have to stay tuned!

Head over here to find out more about Use Daily. 

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