When bike tyres become fashion accessories

Posted on 20 July 2020.

Did you ever imagine you would wear your old bike tyre around your waist? In Roubaix, north France, the startup La Vie est Belt makes fashion accessories.

This initiative respects the fundamental principle of upcycling: give new use to waste.

Founded in 2017, La Vie est Belt is a responsible fashion brand that gives new life to a type of non-recovered waste: bike tyres. The idea came from Colombia, where its founder, Hubert Motte, led workshops in very poor city neighbourhoods. The accumulation of quantities of waste was a revelation for him and inspired the question why produce with new materials when there is so much recoverable waste?

A few months later, in Roubaix, north France, he founded the startup La Vie est Belt. Hubert Motte also made another discovery. Landfilling tyres has been prohibited since 2003. According to the principle of extended producer responsibility, the producer has the obligation to collect and process tyres. However, the regulations do not cover bike tyres or inner tubes which are incinerated.
In 2016, ten million tonnes of bike tyres and inner tubes were incinerated in Europe.

La Vie est Belt’s concept is simple: reduce bike tyre waste by turning it into fashion accessories. This initiative respects the fundamental principle of upcycling: give new use to waste.

Local collection and processing

The company collects its raw materials locally from fourteen waste drop-off centres, bike repair shops, and from the Decathlon brand which has set up collection points in its stores in the North. Turning old tyres into belts requires leatherworking skills and tools. An inclusion through employment workshop in Tourcoing, which teaches these skills, does this work. The challenge is to make the bike tyre as strong as possible to ensure the durability of the accessory. The process does create tyre scraps ... but they are not thrown away, they are made into key rings and bow ties saving them from the bin!

Finally, the products are carefully put into a pouch, locally made in Tourcoing from old fabrics (sheets, curtains, etc.). The product is 100% made in France, and even made in Roubaix, entirely circular, and made from locally collected recovered waste (product and packaging). It is a genuine sustainable and responsible initiative that creates opportunities for the long-term unemployed.

5,000 tyres already recovered

Since it was founded in 2017, La Vie est Belt is a real success story demonstrating France’s enthusiasm for more responsible consumption. Five thousand bike tyres have already been recovered, which is five thousand tyres that were not sent to the incinerator. The brand is on-sale in about forty shops in France and has an online store website where the majority of its sales are made. And because the taste for upcycling has stuck, La Vie est Belt has just launched a new product: mismatched boxer shorts made from sheets and duvet covers. The fabrics are collected by Le Relais and processed at Plateau Fertile, the third place dedicated to circular fashion in Roubaix.