Hello, I'm Marco Lai, designer and founder of Hell's Kitchen, 100% chic recycle.
In the fashion world, where I worked for over 20 years, appearances seem to count for much, but in my experience, as a creative consultant to entrepreneur, the most innovative solutions arose when I experienced without any bias. When I dared to mix concepts and materials considered very distant from each other.
Hell's Kitchen was actually born from an experiment like this. A story that began eight years ago, while, riding my bike, I got a flat tire...
Equipped with patch and glue, I went to repair the hole in a bowl, as my grandfather had taught me when I was a child. The vision of the wet inner tube left me enchanted. All its textures and the fascinating signs the road had left engraved onto the matter, gave it lived and seasoned look.The effect was very similar to that of leather. Indeed, even sexier!
Thus, while repairing the puncture I had a revelation, an association of ideas...
Why not using the very same material to make the finest urban bags ever? Waterproof, resistant, symbolizing a stylish concept of metamorphosis. The rubber coming from the street - dirty, worn, smelly – and going back on the road - clean, refurbished, smelling good; the reincarnation of a unique soul into a chic bag, looked after by hand to the finest details.
For long time I had been looking for a material that would allow me to combine fashion and recycling in an evoluted manner. A material which could be reused instead of being a "weigh" on the shoulders of nature. I had finally found it. And hence I toke on this challenge.
I wanted to clear the market from all the misconcepts of recycle as the green hippy alternative.Debunking all the myths that people have had in their head for years, such as "recycle equals uncool" or "the inner tube is impure, heavy and smells badly". I wanted to create a product that, in addition to seduce with its travel story, could stand for quality and excellence. Equivalent, if not superior, to that of a product made with new materials.
It took me three years of study in order to achieve the aimed results and turn a piece of waste into an object of design. Three exciting years, of attempts and mistakes, of reaching a good calibration in the process of up-cycle. The inner tube showed to be more tricky than I could have ever imagined. Circular, cylindrical, made of different compounds and different thicknesses. It didn’t want to be tamed. I truly went through moments of despair, about to abandon the project.
Every time I wanted to declare my victory, it was required to wait. Examples? As soon as I figured out how to get the supply of tubes in the sizes and quantities, I was on the issue of having to select them very carefully, piece by piece, to avoid all the ones that were defective in quality (too elastic, scraped or rusty). Or again, when I had solved the headache of an ecological washing to purify the rubber and taking away the bad smell, there came out the problem of thickness. I had to find a way to slice the innertube with millimeter standards in order to effectively ensure both lightness and strength.
Well! As is often said, no pain no gain. Today I am so grateful I have tried and tried again and never gave up. I closed my ears to the deceptive voice "it’s just a caterpillar, it will never be a butterfly..."
I can finally invite you to join me in this journey. Clear up from all the preconceptions. What you are about to discover is the evolution of recycling 2.0. A collection with a surprising Dna: good inside, elegant outside. Bags and accessories that are rigorously Made in Italy. The material is presented in such a regenerated form to the point of having no connotations to share with the previous element. In the new skin - stripes, patches and signs of worn - continue to tell a story. Unique, authentic, not replaceable. Just like me, just like you.
I proudly introduce you to Hell's Kitchen, 100% chic recycle. The brand is named after the story of the infamous neighborhood of New York, today turned into one of the most chic and popular of the Big Apple. I felt it was the right inspiration to tell how a dreg, a refuse, can be transformed into urban refined design.
Daily metamorphosis are part of living in the metropolis, but if you want them in style, there is only one bag you can’t go without: Hell’s Kitchen, 100% chic recycle
You are most welcome in my virtual shop. Enjoy the trip and remember to abuse with caution!