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Southwest Airlines Makes a New Fashion Statement

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November 29, 2017

Southwest Airlines is starting a multi-year collaboration with Mexican fashion label Carla Fernandez that will recycle hundreds of pounds of leather from airplane seat covers. (Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

Southwest Airlines has gone south of the border to make a new fashion statement.

The carrier has inked a multi-year partnership with Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernandez to use recycled leather from discarded Southwest airplane seats to create a new line of accessories and clothing ranging from shoes and bags to ponchos & key chains.

The new items will be marketed and sold under the "LUV Seat: Mexico" banner.

The new line of products will be made by indigenous artisans in seven Mexican communities where the designer Fernandez has forged relationships.

Though not a household name in the United States, Fernandez does have an international fashion profile. She is known primarily for her somewhat pricey fashions that reflect the very colorful side of Mexico's cultural heritage. One of Fernandez's plaid shirt designs, for instance, sells for $240 in United States dollars.

Bill Tiffany, Southwest's vice president of supply chain management, said of the new Carla Fernandez partnership: "Through this impactful program, indigenous artisans have been able to incorporate their trades into the designs to create some incredible pieces while learning essential economic development skills through entrepreneurial training programs."

The price points for new LUV Seat: Mexico" line of products have not yet been released. But more information on the designs and pricing will become available in the coming weeks, according to a Southwest Airlines spokeswoman. Some of the Carla Fernandez designs could be available before year's end with others rolling out during 2018.

Southwest started getting involved in recycling as far back as 2014, when the carrier announced a "LUV SEAT: Repurpose with Purpose" initiative to recycle 43 acres of used leather airplane seat coverings. The initial partners included several organizations in Kenya that used the leather to produce goods to distribute to local community groups.

In the U.S., the partners include Looptworks, a Portland, Oregon-based company that repurposes materials into limited-edition products such as backpacks, messenger bags and toiletry kits.

Southwest also said it expects to announce three new recycling partnership in the weeks to come.

Source: bizjournals.com