5 May 2015 | Reading 2 mins.

Katcha BIlek: from fire engine to upcycling

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Katcha Bilek travelled around Europe in the late 1990s in an old fire truck that she turned into her ambulating home. And 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?

Discover a designer who turned her dislike of waste into a collection of stylish, resilient bags and belts made from reclaimed inner-tubes, bike tyres and car seatbelts.

Katcha Bilek (KB) designs handbags, laptop bags and manbags with super-tough, durable and waterproof construction, along with unique fashion appeal. Her aim is to create items that are useful as well as beautiful, to use waste which would normally be discarded, to create products which last a lifetime, to pay a fair wage and to create a brand which carries a message.

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.

Katcha Bilek

“I enjoy exploring new ideas in design and adapting my skills accordingly. I love the creative challenge of giving worthless materials a new use, and see no reason for manufacturing any new materials until those that are in existence have all been used,” says Katcha.

Katcha and her team hunt down only the best looking old tractor inner tubes, car seatbelts and bike tires to make each item tough and unique. KB fashion items are sturdy, waterproof, and built for the long haul. The materials lend their hard-wearing qualities to wallets and bags that are smart enough to pair with business wear, yet have an edgy urban aesthetic. At KB, they develop a hands-on knowledge of their materials, making sure that each item is unique and yet durably constructed.