Andy Marks is the founder of Sleeping Bags. He gets the linen that luxury hotels in London are going to throw out and turns them into bags with excellent artwork on. It’s a very creative way to re-use – not recycle and we think it’s brilliant. Josh Jones managed to catch up with a slightly nervous Andy as he was waiting for the call to tell him he was a daddy again.
Hey Andy. How’s you today?
It’s one of those fresh spring days that lifts the spirits, plus me and my Mrs are expecting our second nipper, so every time my phone rings I go slightly pale in anticipation.
How did the idea to re-use hotel linen come about?
I knew I wanted to make bags and change people’s perceptions of waste, and was on the hunt for a powerful materials story. The “eureka / oh shit” moment came over a sunset cocktail on a beach in Thailand. My friend and owner of the wonderful Costa Lanta resort, Nee, indulged me during one of my rants and ended up telling me how high quality bed linen is condemned by luxury hotels after a relatively short amount of time. When I heard this, there was no turning back.
How are the hotels reacting to you making their old laundry super desirable?
Hotels love the concept, it makes green tangible and desirable for their staff and guests. When they switch to one of our products, for example a bespoke Sleeping Bags laundry bag, we tell them how much CO2 they have saved compared to buying a product made from virgin materials in Asia.
Adding the fact that the top 300 global chains condemn enough bed linen in one year to go round the world more than twice if laid end to end, it’s clear they know luxury creates a lot of waste.
Is it just luxury London hotels you deal with?
Luxury covers a lot of bases. Most hotels in London use what would be termed luxury bed linen – high thread count and predominantly cotton. London has more hotel rooms than any other city, by quite a margin, so it’s a great place to start. The plan is to partner hotels around the world turning a global problem in to a global solution.
So there’s every chance your bags have been slept on by rich and famous?
Yes there is! Our bags look like they are made from new materials, but if they could talk…
How have you hooked up with artists? Do they send you their work or are they just people you know?
Sleeping Bags has generated the most incredible amount of good will. My network, my network’s network and so on have plugged in to the project… I have a very long list on my office wall of people to thank, and this includes a lot of prominent artists and visionary creative people. They love our ‘In My Dreams’ brief and what we have set out to do. Jason Bruges (installation artist and architect) really went for it, filming someone moving in their sleep, to create the bag artwork and a video installation piece which was shown at the Barbican. How awesome is that?
That’s pretty damn awesome. Are you on the look out for new artists?
We most definitely are. The brand is all about narrative and story telling, drawing people in to the product story in ways that surprise, delight, and most importantly change perceptions of waste. How artists interpret our brand is in our DNA.
What’s next for Sleeping Bags?
It’s still early days for us. We have tested and refined our model for transforming waste into luxury, and now it’s time to really go for it.
We have recently agreed a partnership with Europe’s leading laundry Sunlight to supply as much linen as we need, so this piece of the puzzle is in place. We have a range of very cool tote bags in development including a bag the wearer can customise. And the big push is with major players in the hotel industry to put Sleeping Bags’ Room Range (laundry bags, shoes bags, newspaper bags, suit carriers…) in hotel rooms around the world.
That should keep us busy for the time being.
Photo: Tom Medwell