Second in our Founder's Wednesday Series, we were joined by Constanze Klotz, co-founder of Bridge&Tunnel- a label in the middle of Hamburg in Germany, that produces sustainable and fair designs that are meant to change society. Bridge&Tunnel works with socially disadvantaged people as well as refugees who only recently came to Germany, united by the enormous craftsmanship beyond certificates and diplomas.
Their denim design is made from post- & pre-consumer waste (old textiles and surplus material), which they present in a stylish way. For pre-consumer waste, they use rejects, i.e. textiles that are also worn out for distribution points. In this way Bridge&Tunnel is able to give valuable material resources a new life in style and hopeful talents from all over the world to a fulfilling job with recognition.
"We believe that everyone and everything in life deserves a second chance."
The name label Bridge&Tunnel does not only refer to the island location of the label's production site Wilhelmsburg, which can only be reached via bridges or the Elbe tunnel. It also refers to the vision of the brand, that is to build bridges into the first job market. To achieve this, they rely on the expertise and motivation of the people who work for them. They believe that in the end, it is the stories of the people that make our products so unique. Every product made at Bridge&Tunnel has a label that mentions the name of its creator.
"There are people involved in the textile industry, not just machines."
The label supports their multinational sewing team closely by providing assistance in dealing with the authorities, clarifying legal issues or even looking for an apartment. They also organize language coaching for further language development.
Their goal is to create more jobs for socially disadvantaged people. And secure those of their current team.
During the chat, Constanze discussed the concept of upcycling and the opportunities that come with it.
What is Upcycling?
"Upcycling is a way to remind someone how long you can wear something."
Upcycling means using old or discarded or vintage pieces of clothing and transforming them into something which is better than its original by design and value additions. In the case of Bridge&Tunnel, they work with used denim and transform them into bags, furniture, jackets, etc.
Partnering with Big Companies
"If you are not part of the club, make your own club."
In the past, Bridge&Tunnel has partnered with brands like Levi's, Tchibo, Bracenet, and more. Constanze believes that one way for your brand and for the people who work with you to gain reach, is to care enough about what you do. Second is consistency. The longer you keep doing something, the more it is possible for you to be seen. And of course, good timing is everything!
The Future of Upcycling
"I really believe in big pictures. I hope one day we only do upcycling, because it can be so beautiful to make something new out of things that have a history. But I also really hope that overproduction would be put down to such a level that there won't be many things to upcycle."
There is no doubt that brands should start upcycling because it's always good to use resources that are already available and lengthen their lifecycle, but it will be even better if we have less products in this planet that are worn for a longer time so that the upcycling process can start at a much later stage.
Check out the entire conversation to know more about upcycling, manufacturing, creator economy, greenwashing and more: