It was, of all things, a seat belt that inspired designer Stina Sayre to launch her line of women’s clothing and accessories. About 15 years ago, the Swedish-born former professional windsurfer had an idea for a bag design, but couldn’t find quite the right material for what she had in mind. The structure she was trying to create required a sturdy sort of flexible strip that could be wrapped into a spiral construction. Wide elastic proved to be too bouncy and stretchy. Not one to give up, Sayre noticed that the webbing used to make seatbelts possessed just the qualities she was seeking. She experimented to get the design just right, and the bag was a huge hit right away.
Flash-forward a couple of decades, and Sayre has now successfully established her brand of contemporary but timeless European-style clothing made from quality textiles, and incorporating unique design features. Her line, which she sells at her Main Street, Vineyard Haven, boutique, as well as online, has earned her a loyal following and a reputation as a visionary designer. All of her dresses, coats, pants, tops, bags, and swimwear pieces are sewn by small manufacturers in Massachusetts.
“When you have something made overseas by a big manufacturer, you have to order very large lots,” Sayre says. “That way a wholesaler or retailer can push the price down, but they have to overproduce, and a lot of clothing ends up in landfills.”
Although she adds new items to her clothing and accessories line every year, the seat belt–based bags — available in a satchel, travel bag, and crossbody diagonal style — continue to be bestsellers. The material does not come from used items, per se. Sayre purchases the heavy-duty webbing in rolls, but it is still a reclaimed product that would otherwise be wasted, since manufacturers always have excess.
“I chose it because I really enjoy repurposing,” says Sayre. “I like the fact that I’m taking a material that is intended for car safety and making it into a bag.”
Stina Sayre boutique is located at 43B Main Street, Vineyard Haven. You can also shop online at stinasayre.com.