GF: You mentioned to me that travellers are increasingly thinking of more sustainable ways of travelling - could you expand on that?
CL: The biggest threat facing our future is global warming. We have been aware of this for years but lockdown really showed us how the natural world has been suffering as we watched.
People are now even more aware of the environmental impact of travel than they were pre lockdown. During lockdown we saw the benefits of giving the planet a rest from travel and so while people still want to travel, they will commit to doing it better - we were heading that way anyway but the pandemic has given us a push to be more mindful.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part and I have no figures to back up my views but I believe people will seek out less harmful ways of travelling where they can, or change the type of travel they do. For example, short haul weekend city breaks by air - we will start to cut down on those and consider breaks within the UK, accessed by train or car. Not just because travel is still severely curtailed by the pandemic, but because it’s better for the environment and lockdown has shown us the beauty of what’s on our doorstep. I am not saying everyone has to stop travelling , rather that we all do our bit to reduce our own impact.
I hope that those who travel excessively for business reduce their air miles considerably and use virtual communications much more where possible. I hope that when people take a holiday they really question the impact of the holiday - is it helpful to the local economy AND natural surroundings. Who is profiting? And when people do fly they consider offsetting their carbon.
GF: How do those thoughts reflect in the new collection?
CL: The “SLOW Collection” began as a climate-conscious project inspired by travels closer to home, while I was hiking in the Brecon Beacons in May and Sept of 2019.
I made a pledge to travel more mindfully in 2020 with trips subsequently booked that included one long haul flight for charitable travel to Nepal, a health stay in France I would reach by train in a bid to reduce flying hours, and a reservation to holiday with family in the summer in the UK, which we all mainly ended up having to do anyway. Business trips to the factory in Spain would only be made if necessary and there would be no short haul airline travel for weekend breaks.
I wanted to design a collection that would echo a slowing down of the types of travel I envisaged that would be great for weekends, domestic adventures and trips closer to home. I wanted them to be light, yet durable and the materials had to practice the preach.
The main material is a wipe- clean, bio-degradable cotton canvas made in Spain by Textilin. This is paired with STOW’s renowned soft luxury leather, sourced from a Spanish LWG (Leather Working Group) rated tannery. Each design is fitted with eco-friendly linings made in Italy. The two smaller pieces’ distinctive orange lining is sourced from an Italian supplier, Gipitex, who practice Chemical Management for Sustainability. The Weekenders’ luxurious Alcantara lining is produced by a carbon neutral and leading sustainability fabric supplier in Italy.
The palette of the collection is drawn from my observations of close up colours I came cross in the Brecon mountains and North Cornwall. Rocks marshes, leaves, berries, walls. I took endless pictures!
GF: With travel changing, how do you see the brand developing and what are your plans for the future?
CL: When I started STOW I carved a niche out for us by referring to STOW as THE destination for luxury small travel accessories. No one else was solely focused entirely on this product sector. It stood us in good stead - and got us noticed along with our bold colours. However, obviously our products can be used both for travel and at home so we have started to emphasise that more in our marketing and content.
Having said that people will always be on the move (near or far), and STOW will always be here to provide gorgeous luxurious and practical products for their storage needs.
GF: Do you have a favourite travel destination and where is it? Which one piece from the new collection would you take?
CL: That’s an impossible question for me to answer so I have to say Western Coast of Scotland, Maui and Cape Town. All have mountains for walking, all are near water and all have incredible food. For a long weekend in Scotland I would take the Weekender Bag with me by train. Light, roomy and with long wide handles for pain free shoulder carriage. It also has a large internal pocket for a laptop.
Shop the SLOW Collection here.