Upcycling: from the cabin to the locker room, the new life of car airbags

Classic at first glance, the jackets and bags from Ryohei Kawanishi’s latest collection are really nothing conventional. The Japanese fashion designer, now based in New York, took the gamble to design his latest collection of used airbags. An initiative as creative as it is committed, it demonstrates the importance of upcycling in reducing waste and waste pollution.

When automakers start working on optimizing airbag recycling management, many of them still throw them away because they can’t be reused. An observation that has not escaped the attention of a handful of fashion designers who are transforming airbags into clothing or accessories. Originally from Tottori Prefecture, in southwestern Japan, designer Ryohei Kawanishi has just come up with a whole collection of recycled old car airbags.


It was at the request of the car recycling company Nishikawa Shokai that the designer embarked on this upcycling project, as South China Morning Post notes. The Japanese company was unable to recycle its airbags and asked Ryohei Kawanishi to work on a solution to reduce the impact of these safety elements on the environment. A major challenge given the specificity of the original material, originally designed to withstand extreme heat and shock.

Bags, jackets and hats

The first pieces were not designed overnight, but the Japanese designer eventually took up the challenge and unveiled not just a few models, but an entire collection including clothing and accessories. “It took us over a year to find a specialist sewing company that could do the process of cutting the airbags into the correct panel shapes and then reconnecting them to the patterns for the garments”Ryohei Kawanishi explained to the Hong Kong daily.

Composed of bags, hats and jackets, the collection has had some success with the younger generations. But the fashion designer doesn’t want to stop there. He’s already planning to spice up this collection with basic clothes meant for everyday wear, and even try dyeing this new kind of fabric, which is currently only being unveiled in immaculate white.

Ryohei Kawanishi isn’t alone in upcycling car airbags. At the beginning of the 2021 school year, Heron Preston also presented a collection, in collaboration with Mercedes, including clothing designed from the German manufacturer’s used airbags.

Hyundai, for its part, has used airbags, windshields and other materials from its wrecked cars to design a ready-to-wear collection for men and women. Experiments that mostly prove that solutions exist to significantly reduce waste, which is partly responsible for the environmental impact of two of the most polluting industries.

(ETX Daily Up)

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