The RNLI, a charity saving lives at sea and helping flood victims, has launched a collection of six utilitarian travel accessories including messenger bags, wallets, wash bags and tablet covers. All the items of the range 235 Made For Life are made from decommissioned RNLI lifejackets formerly worn by the volunteers of the charity during real sea rescues. The products are handmade in the UK from genuine recycled materials. The collection is named after the number of RNLI lifeboat stations from which the lifejackets originate.
Whistles, toggles, safety webbing and reflective strips as well as the characteristic fabric and the distinctive bright yellow and red colour ensure the uniqueness of each item and remind the owner of the material’s previous function. The combination of the coastal, marine look of the pieces, their functionality and the rugged and durable fabric make them real all-rounders. Each of the practical and well-designed items proudly bears the natural marks of its past life while telling its own special story of real sea rescues. The swing tags attached to all the bags and cases are signed by the person who made them and some items even display the original hand-written service label that shares their inimitable history.
Every part of the decommissioned lifejackets, from steel and brass components to the fabric, is aimed to be recycled, ensuring an environmentally friendly way of disposing of the items.The 235 Made For Life collection helps to generate vital funds for RNLI. 100% of profits from the sale of the bags are used to support the vital work of the charity and ensures they can continue saving lives at sea.
Lifejackets have not always been as innovative and functional as the ones used by the RNLI today. In 1854 a RNLI inspector invented a cork lifejacket. Narrow strips of cork were sewn onto a canvas vest, which made the jacket flexible enough to move. At the beginning of the 20th century the kapok lifejacket was introduced. Kapok is a vegetable fibre that doesn’t absorb water and is much more buoyant than cork. Modern life jackets as we know them were only introduced in the 1990s.
The RNLI was founded in 1824 as the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck and has since saved over 140,000 people, who found themselves in trouble at sea. The charity’s name was later changed to Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Sir William Hillary founded the RNLIafter witnessing the destruction of dozens of ships from his home on the Isle of Man. He appealed to the Navy and the government for help in forming ‘a national institution for the preservation of lives and property from shipwreck’. The 24/7 services of the RNLI – independent of Coastguard and government – include patrols on more than 160 beaches around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, first aid and safety advice and education, help for flood victims and rescues at sea.
The 235 Made For Life collection is available online at RNLIshop.org from the 11th of March.