Africa, Italy, sustainability, Curious Interview, Beast of Burden, BEASTofBURDEN, Richard Taylor, Virginia Chiarelli, Nile crocodile, South Africa

It is always a pleasure to discover something rare and beautiful. Recently a luxurious item of this description crossed the BeautifulCurious radar in the form of an extraordinary crocodile handbag. And the party responsible for its existence is the bespoke brand called BEASTofBURDEN. Each piece journeys from the rivers of the African Nile, through the Tuscan hillside and carries with it a story of sustainability and artisanal craft passed down through generations. BeautifulCurious talks to BEASTofBURDEN designer and co-founder Richard Taylor about the brand, the relevance of sustainability and what is luxury…

What is the concept behind BEASTofBURDEN?
BEASTofBURDEN takes the worlds most iconic luxury accessory – the crocodile hand bag and reinterpretates in a totally authentic way. This is made possible from our own relationship with Africa, our sourcing and tanning of the skins and the way we make our bags in Italy. We break down the stiffness (literally and metaphorically) of the crocodile bag and make it relevant for the luxury consumer of today. We differentiate ourselves entirely from almost every other luxury brand in the world today by the fact that we work across continents from Africa to Europe to achieve something that is totally unique.

Who is that curiously endearing equine mascot in your logo?
The original BEASTofBURDEN – the donkey

Tell me how your sustainability story came about. Was sourcing sustainable materials something that evolved or was it present from the start?
I believe that designers today have a duty to be sustainable. In our case it was important for us to be aware of all the people that are involved in the process of making BEASTofBURDEN and to be confident that they share the same principles as we do.

Why Nile crocodile?
Nile crocodile comes from Africa where Virginia (co-founder) was born and this is where we began BEASTofBURDEN. Other crocodile skin e.g. Cayman doesn’t produce the same softness or colour when treated, whereas Nile crocodile gives a beautifully soft handle and achieves a much greater colour density.

Do you forsee sourcing other sustainable or ethically sourced materials in other parts of the world?
Regarding sourcing, we are a crocodile brand and we will always work with Africa. The continent is at the heart of our inspiration.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Africa – the colours, the people, the wildlife – it’s like no other place in the world.

How do you define luxury?
Sundown on a sand bank in the Zambezi valley with a gin a tonic in hand and a heard of elephants in the distance.

What luxury brand or item do you believe to be truly innovative and why?
1st class travel. When you travel as much as we do it really makes a difference to your journey.

What is THE luxury item you dream of?
Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser- totally re-modelled with crocodile interior in custom spray matte army green.

What are words of wisdom that you live by?
‘Life is not a dress rehearsal’

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