Use Daily honours sustainability in every sense of the word. Hand-made in their North Fitzroy studio from reworked, recycled awnings, Cleo and Josh’s water-resistant and durable designs maintain a sweet nostalgia for Melbourne’s suburban past.
Whilst documenting the rapid development of a beachside suburb on the Mornington Peninsula for his final Interior Design Honours project, Josh was drawn to the front of old beach shacks. Although duplicated in differing variations, he admired the consistency of colourful canvas awnings decorating the streets.
‘I quickly became obsessed with them’ he said. ‘I bought a secondhand awning from a house in Reservoir and kept it in my carport for weeks. Cleo was the one who saw it and loved the durability and colour of the fabric. She decided we should do something with it’.
‘Use Daily wouldn’t exist without Cleo’ Josh says.
Cleo constructed the very first Use Daily bags, purely because she couldn’t think of anything worse than ‘letting this beautiful material go in the bin’.
‘I come from a family where the garage was always filled with ‘things that might be useful one day’ and definitely embody this attitude myself’, Cleo says.
After using the bags daily themselves, Josh and Cleo received numerous requests from their friends to make more. They sourced cheap or free discarded awnings from demolition sites, and began to build their collection — and in turn, their brand.
‘We thought it was a great opportunity to save something so special from landfill’ Josh says.
There is an undeniable charm to the material the couple have championed. Each bag is unique due to the fabric’s imperfections from previous use, and features a tag indicating the suburb of origin it was salvaged from. Alongside the cheerfully nostalgic aesthetic, this particular canvas also challenges the concept of what we classify as waste.
‘Awnings are a constant reminder of how the suburbs and world we live in are rapidly changing’ Cleo says. ‘I like it, because it reminds me to look to the future in terms of our design and production’.
‘I hope the House Bags spark a sense of nostalgia, but also make people ask, do I like how the suburbs are changing, what do I think of mass development, production and waste in a time of climate crisis?’ Cleo says.
With what can only be described as the definition of a hands on approach to design, both Cleo and Josh rely on the durability of the clothes they dress in daily.
‘I work in construction & Interior Design so I’m constantly wearing very functional and very dirty clothes. I feel this has perforated through to the other clothes I own’ Josh says. ‘I’ll always gravitate towards anything durable, local or second hand’.
Cleo likes to ‘mix second hand clothes in with a few new pieces that are special’ she says. ‘High quality, locally made clothing, always by labels that I respect in terms of their ethos and production.’
‘Handsom x U-D are such a match for me’ Cleo says. ‘The quality fabrics and well considered designs are perfect for the everyday, so they pair well with our bags which do the same thing. Both are practical, accessible, and designed responsibly — all within a couple of km’s from each other.’
Although it will remain weathered, the future of Use Daily looks bright! Alongside recycled awnings, ‘we are adding more materials into our repertoire’ Cleo promises — but only within the realm of fabrics they ‘find and put to use’.
‘I love our bags, and I really want to explore more styles and arrangements in the future. I think Use Daily has so much room for growth’ Josh says.
It’s rare to come across a brand in the fashion industry that wholeheartedly embodies the concept of waste not, want not. Unless it’s a bag to Use Daily.
Words by Victoria Hermitage | Studio images by Sam Rush | Campaign images by Lucille Bone and Jordan Kaye