business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Times this morning has a piece about how some fashionistas are turning to a new fabric as they design their wares - grocery bags from FreshDirect.

An excerpt:

"Before the pandemic began, leather was a go-to material for the handbag designer Shelley Parker. But when life went remote during the lockdowns, Ms. Parker, 54, couldn’t stand the idea of buying it online. 'When I buy leather,' she said, 'I touch it, I feel it. I smell it.'

"As her leather supply depleted in 2020, Ms. Parker started to experiment with a medium that by then had become more plentiful at her Queens apartment: the colorful plastic totes used to deliver groceries from FreshDirect, which feature the company’s logo surrounded by produce … Ms. Parker began by slicing the FreshDirect bags into pieces. With those scraps, she made a handful of purses and small pouches using techniques including plaiting, macramé and sashiko, a form of Japanese embroidery."

The price tag for one such handbag:  $899.

She's not alone.  A number of artists and designers are doing the same thing, trying to find new uses for the bags, which FreshDirect used to take back and recycle.  It stopped that policy back in 2020, however, which led many of its customers with way too many bags to keep.

The Times also writes about Theda Sandiford, an artist and the senior vice president of commerce and digital at Def Jam Records, who "cannot look at the bags without being reminded of the pandemic during which they proliferated, and the grief and stress that it has caused. To help process those feelings, Ms. Sandiford sliced up FreshDirect bags that she had collected from the trash room of her apartment building in Jersey City, N.J., and wove the pieces through shopping carts to create artworks for a series she called Emotional Baggage Carts … The first cart she made using FreshDirect bags, called 'Wide Load,' now belongs to the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn. She showed other carts, earlier this month, at the Satellite Art Show in Miami Beach, Fla. On her website, one cart she made using FreshDirect bags is for sale for $15,000."

Now that's an Eye-Opener.