Lost Property of London







While some designers are constantly on the hunt for the latest cloth, Katy Bell abandons this approach in favour of seeking out unwanted property and giving it new life.

Careful selection of reclaimed materials is her speciality, a skill she’s built a business out of.  Produced locally, Lost Property of London upcycles discarded fabrics into beautifully handmade bags using only traditional techniques.

Katy’s entrepreneurial outlook on fashion allows her to design innovatively whilst keeping functionality at the forefront of her mind. Lost Property of London represents not only style and quality but also an ingenious sourcing process, one where old materials can inspire us as new.

Tell us a bit about yourself and background?

I specialised in printed textiles, here I compiled my portfolio, and I also went on to complete a Business Studies programme. Since graduated, I designed for international labels. Including Calvin Klein, Li and Fung, Crate and Barrel of New York, and Andrew Martin. My freelance design was going pretty well but I always had a desire to launch my own label, which I’m very glad I did as it started a new and exciting venture!

Before starting my own thing, I  had another great learning experience with an incredible set designer whom I worked for after freelancing. Here I really found my designer feet, which I’m today very thankful for.

For years, I had an fascination and love for upcycled products. Along side with my ambition to create a label with an ethical and sustainable approach – spurred me to start Lost Property of London.

If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be?  

A Photographer – like my granddad. Many hours were spent in my granddads dark room. It was such a magical thing, watching the pictures appear.

How would you define your out look on fashion?

I would say fashion is fun and not to be taken too seriously. In terms of Lost Property of London, we design our bags with key trends in mind and often hint towards them but only if it works with our classic and vintage inspired shapes. Most of all, the collection is innovative and useable.

What are the daily challenges you’re facing in your creative process/methods?

Reusing materials and maintaining our sustainable ethos is occasionally challenging but only when sourcing fabric on mass, no more challenging than a usual production. The biggest challenge is continuing to develop LPOL from a fledgling company into a small to medium business.Things are getting busy – we are almost ready to take the next step and employ a bigger team, It’s very exciting!

 What are the pros and cons being a London based designer?

I can’t actually think of any cons? London inspires so many of our collections! I’m off to the Matisse exhibition at the Tate this weekend. Can’t wait. Everything’s here at your fingertips.

Looking into the future – how would you like Lost Property to develop creatively and as a business?

I don’t want to give too much away! However, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting materials to work with, so whatever I get my hands on usually inspires me creatively. I love the unpredictability of this as a creative process. Keeping an element of mystery is essential to creativity.

In a fast moving fashion industry, how do you incorporate sustainability into your design?

I’ve been very selective in sourcing material from local businesses. I also salvage a lot of discarded fabric from suppliers around the UK. For example wax cotton roll-ends and reclaimed sailcloth. The leather hide we use is vegetable tanned. Plus, all of our products are manufactured 4 miles from the studio. So all of that helps us reduce our impact on the environment whilst supporting local businesses. I will only use a second-hand fabric if it works with the bag. Design and functionality is always our main focus.


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