Well-known for championing sustainable balance, New York brand 3.1 Phillip Lim always aims to create cleaner, more mindfully and more circular with its designs. Its latest collaboration with Volvo Cars in creating The Weekend Bag – a tote bag made from Volvo’s Nordico, an innovative textile comprising recycled materials – set the standard of what can be done to promote sustainability between different industries when companies with the same values are aligned. The brand’s founder and designer, Phillip Lim, shares his thoughts on their partnership and plans for the near future with BAZAAR.
We’re here to talk about your collaboration with Volvo. What was your reaction when you were first approached for it?
“I was really pleasantly surprised because I’ve never done a car collaboration before and what’s been amazing is to collaborate cross-industry. I think that the whole idea of having such a massive company like Volvo work directly with an independent company like 3.1 Phillip Lim and merging the ideas of really unique creative designs with a huge platform was something that is kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime. So when they approached me about it, I couldn’t say no, because, you know, we all know how amazing Volvo cars are. The idea to even use a new type of leather to push this idea of a circular economy and more in a sustainable product, or interior, was an absolute joy.”
You’ve done several collaborations now… Starbucks, just recently Aveda, and now Volvo. Could you share what are some of the key factors you consider when you go into a new collaboration?
“I love that you asked that because it’s actually a big initiative internally at 3.1 Phillip Lim after these tough couple of years and coming out of a pandemic and realising that we’ve been part of a problem as a brand, and really acknowledging that. We now have to look at how we move forward with intention and use our platforms to do or to participate in conversations that maybe are an example of more mindfulness. So for me, if you think about Volvo, Aveda, Starbucks, they’re all centred around the planet, ecosystems and circular economy. So, I think that going forward for all my collaborations, there has to be something tied to either people, planet or product, and how that can be more responsible and mindful.”
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What inspired The Weekend Bag?
“It’s designed for the very modern, global citizen that’s always on the go and living complex lives. The design is a roll-top so that you can fit the extra hours within your life. Coming in with Volvo, we were able to use their new Nordico material – the incredible new material that they’re launching in their C40 recharge, which is partial bio bass fibres and recycled PET bottles. So that was really interesting to work on. I went into it thinking, oh, you know, it’s gonna not feel like something that’s authentic as leather. But the whole point was to push this idea of luxury without using leather. I was so pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. To the naked eye, you cannot even tell.”
What kind of items can you fit into the weekend bag?
“Oh, anything you need for the weekend! I use that bag for day-to-day, too, not only just the weekends. What’s nice about the construction is that it collapses and turns into a smaller bag when the top row’s down. When I travel with it, I’ll stuff it up to the top and it’s really extra storage. A change of clothes, shoes, toiletry, my laptop – anything goes into it because it’s very pliable and moldable for your daily needs.”
Can you talk us through the design process? How did you pick the design for this collaboration?
“It’s an archival piece and I felt like that particular one is close to the ethos of what’s old is new again. Instead of always reinventing the wheel and using resources in a very wasteful manner, why don’t we look at things that are tried and true, how to modernise that and how to bring that back to life in a more mindful way. What I want to do is go against the idea of trends and make a signature that is mindful, high quality, and beautifully designed. I look at it and at the Volvo interiors and they work so well together. It’s in that beautiful light grey with white stitching and a dark charcoal edge painting.”
What do you think about Volvo’s move to become leather-free for its interior?
“I think they’re such visionaries to make a major move and signalling the intention and how to be part of the solution going forward. When they publicly say something like that, you know how serious they are about their commitment to sustainability in a more mindful world.”
Speaking of Volvo cars and the weekend, can you share what’s on your road trip playlist?
“Recently, it’s a lot of podcasts. A lot of the daily with the New York Times and a lot of Wall Street Journal. Money management because I’m terrible at that. I also love the ‘80s Italo Disco It’s very fun, sexy music. It’s good driving music, you know?
What can we expect from you in the near future?
“More of this. More of partnering up with different brands, across different industries and really rethinking how we play a role in being more impactful with less impact, you know what I mean? I think that it’s a long road ahead. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I think that the way we approach it is really multifaceted and in different ways. I always say that small gestures make a grand shift. And right now, all these gestures are these collaborations 3.1 Philip Lim is participating in. Our intention is to really shift our mindset of this is just how we do things.”
Having said that, is there a collaboration that you’re itching to do?
“I would love to work with Patagonia. So yeah, if anyone is listening, I love to do that. I’d love to work with Levi’s. So iconic, right? I think that I choose these brands because I have a personal affinity towards them and I think that they’ve touched the lives of so many.”