Purses Made from Auto Upholstery

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on December 3rd, 2011

Not that I have a penchant for handbags, but if I did – I’d probably buy one from Kim White. Her company, Kim White Handbags, specializes in purses and clutches made from vintage automotive fabric.

A bit odd, I admit. But a unique gift idea to give to that special lady helping you run your auto trim shop.

Kim White’s website explains:

Each Kim White Handbag is tagged with the year and make of the fabric, so you know exactly what car your bag comes from (i.e. 1983 Camaro or a 1978 Ford Mustang). Kim White Handbags specializes in automotive fabrics from the 1970’s and 1980’s, when color was de rigueur in the automotive industry.

Since these textiles were originally intended for use in cars, they are incredibly durable. Perfect for handbags in style as well as function. Kim White Handbags, in keeping with the tradition of the American car industry, are sophisticated, beautiful and built to last. And just like American automobiles, they have a widespread appeal, from trendy teens to stylish grandmothers and every woman in between.

Unlike Platinum Dirt, which specializes in leather jackets made from old seat covers; and David Clark Designs, which makes home furniture out of actual car seats, the fabrics used in Kim White’s bags aren’t recycled from classic cars.

Kim White uses dead stock never-used textiles intended for use in American automobiles: cars, trucks and vans. She fortuitously unearthed an entire warehouse of automotive fabric, which may be the last existing stock anywhere in the US, and she is the sole owner of these amazing textiles.

If that sucks a bit of the nostalgia out of the bags for you, check out Mari Cla Ro – a Canadian design firm that fashions women’s handbags out of reclaimed leather from high-end cars, like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and BMW. Mari Cla Ro also makes items for men out of old car upholstery – like messenger bags, lap top cases, wallets and belts.

So why am I bothering to post an article about purses? I’m excited that artists and design firms are finding new and creative ways to use auto upholstery. Aside from the inspiration it provides, it also draws loads of attention to the beauty of car interiors.

Checkout Kim White Handbags.

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2 Responses

  1. Naseem Muaddi says:

    I like it, it’s definitely creative. It’s just a shame that an entire warehouse of never used automotive fabrics are being used for purses and we can’t get our hands on any.

  2. Nadeem says:

    I know – right? There’s plenty of auto trimmers who would love to get their hands on that fabric. But I guess she found it fair and square and is doing something productive with it, so more power to her.

    Below are some comments left about this article on another upholstery forum:

    Greg @ Keystone Sewing: Cool idea, doubt these are made in China, but I’ve been wrong about that before!

    gene: A few years ago I met with a lady who had been in Italy. She was very excited about a similar idea of making unique ladies purses. We talked about my capabilities to cut and sew.

    After a bit of market research she said there were too many niche ladies purses flooding the market from all over the world. She gave up on her idea.

    How many women would want a purse made from old auto upholstery material?

    Have you ever seen a woman’s purse that was empty and she was then able to turn it inside out?

    I do like the creativity behind the products.

    This reply is trade fair and eco friendly.

    sofadoc: I have a few ladies in town who will come in from time to time, and pick up small remnants that I’ve saved for them (usually, novelty tapestries, such as the “Route 66” pattern).

    They’ll make handbags out of them. It takes them a month or 2 to make a dozen. They display them at an upscale botique, where it may take a year or more to sell all of them. And they have frankly admitted to me that they’ve seen some better and cheaper online.

    It’s a way to make a little money, I guess. But I don’t think any of them are going to retire early.

    While they DO charge a lot for them, their time involved is extensive. One of the ladies told me that if I didn’t give them the material for free, there wouldn’t be enough profit in them to fool with.

    What I want to know is….why do women have to hold up the line at the grocery store while they fish their car keys from the deepest, darkest crevices of their purse?

    And that thing they call a wallet. NOBODY in line gets to move ahead until EVERY snap has been snapped, and EVERY zipper has been zipped!

    JuneC: What I really like about those purses (oh, I’m a woman and I carry a purse regularly), is that the design isn’t overdone. They do a really nice job of showcasing the fabric with a simply designed clutch or tote. I’d carry one in a heartbeat. Pricey for the average Jane, but very nice work.

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