In recent years I have become more and more concerned about the origin of the clothes and accessories I buy, who makes them and where the materials have been sourced – but oh, can worthy apparel be lacking in the aesthetic stakes. It was relief all around, then, when I found Reclaim Mallorca, which sells beautiful bags that fulfil my criteria and are also completely unique. The bags are crafted along principles of “recover, repair, restore, reuse and recycle”, all are made in Mallorca from used or remnant materials – and they are chic and cleverly designed. This is sustainable luxury at its best.
Now, one might expect a sultry señorita to be behind Reclaim Mallorca, but the brand’s founder and creative director Sarah Rennison is, in fact, from Wales and grew up riding for hours a day in the Brecon Beacons, where her family trains and breeds horses. In 1998, while she was working as a photography assistant in London, her brother suggested she sail across the Atlantic with him and a group of friends, and she set off two days later. The final destination was Mallorca and she fell in love with the island, left London and has lived there ever since.
The idea for the business came from her friendship with a Mallorcan saddlemaker called Pep. “Whenever I was homesick, I would go and sit in his workshop, which always smelt of horses and reminded me of home,” she says. But in 2009, when Spain was in economic crisis, Pep was contemplating selling the horse that he had raised from a foal so he could keep his business – and Rennison came up with a plan. “Over the years Pep had accumulated large amounts of used horse tack that was sitting around gathering dust but could, I realised, be put to good use.” She started sourcing fabrics from local antiques markets, house clearance sales and surplus Italian cashmere suppliers to create elegant bags, using the reclaimed leather tack, originally from Pep and now also from her home in Wales, to give them structure and style.
With two collections each year, current bestsellers include a clutch called Petra (€195), the reversible Orient shopper (€360, first picture) and Deia (€680, second picture), a unisex weekend bag that fits carry-on luggage requirements. Soller (€499, third picture), a rucksack inspired by the one Rennison’s grandfather owned that has straps to hook over the handlebars of a bicycle, and other bespoke designs can be made to order. And as this sustainable ethical fashion label flourishes, there is also a heartwarming element to the story: Reclaim Mallorca has meant that Pep was able to keep his horse and his business. “Today he has almost more work than he can handle,” says Rennison.