SALTY BAG | Corfu, Greece
Bounded on both sides by the Aegean and Ionian Seas and scattered across hundreds of islands, Greece is a country connected by water. For thousands of years the Greeks have been a seafaring people – living, working, and playing on what Homer called the οἶνοψ πόντος, the “ wine-dark sea.” Today, Greece is still a major hotspot for cruisers and competitive sailors from across Europe and around the world. Unfortunately, though, with so many boats on the water, even a form of transportation as sustainable as sailing can produce a tremendous amount of waste – well over a million square feet in spent synthetic sails per year in Greece alone.
In 2013, an internationally ranked competitive yachtsman from Athens, Stratis Andreadis, was teaching a sailing seminar on the island of Corfu when two of his students, Cryssa Chalikiopoulou and Spiros Daikos, gave him a bag that they had made from a used sail. It was an old apprentice sailmaker’s trick to use decommissioned sailcloth to practice sewing on what was otherwise a useless material. After class, over a few drinks, the sailors had a moment of inspiration and came up with a business plan: give old, weathered sails a new and stylish life. “We take a durable material,” Andreadis says, “combine it with a European aesthetic, and reuse it to create something functional and sophisticated out of something that used to be waste.”
Within the three years since its inception, Salty Bag’s products have become a mainstay on the European sailing circuit – from duffels packed with gear on ship-decks to clutches at yacht club cocktail parties. They’ve worked with Greece's Olympic Sailing Team hopefuls, upcycling their used sails and helping raise money to get to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They’re even an official bag-maker for the Yacht Club de Monaco.
In their workshop on Corfu, Salty Bag hand-makes each bag with high quality materials, from the already weather and sun resistant sailcloth to ethically produced Tuscan leather and brass-finished zips, designed to withstand decades of wear. This passion for design and craftsmanship Andreadis defines as “μεράκι (meraki),” an untranslatable word that means, roughly, “putting a piece of your soul into everything that you make.”
“We understand and define luxury as an investment of time,” he says, ”We are adamant that making something by hand, with time and attention, brings out something special, something that’s beautiful.”
The team even takes the time to record the story of each sail that they use and include a booklet with every bag, telling the sail’s unique history. “Our bags have great stories behind them,” Andreadis says, “which means that when you buy a product it’s an original product and the story is already there: it’s a drunkard who ripped the sail and ran aground, it’s my friend who won the world championship while her feet were bleeding and then went on to win a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. It’s there. It’s real.”
Written by Ronald Coleman. Photos by Alexandros Ioannidis and Nicholas Tsakris