Who would have guessed that those boring gray seat belt straps would start a fashion trend? Dana and Melanie Harvey, a California couple, first dreamed up the idea of the seat belt purse in the late 1990s. While installing seat belts in a restored 1950 Buick, Melanie suggested Dana use the leftover material to make her a seat belt purse. Since then, the bags have become a huge business for the Harveys, who built a design studio in Santa Ana. By 2004, the company was a three million US dollar (USD) business.
The seat belt purse comes in many styles and dozens of colors that are more appealing than the standard gray, including pinks, black and white combos, metallic shades, purples, greens and more. Some colors stick with the automobile theme, for example Cadillac Pink and Pontiac Purple. A green and tan camouflage-inspired insect print seat belt purse collection was a sellout in 2006. The Harveys also make briefcases and backpacks from seat belts.
The company guarantees its seat belt purses and other products and offers free repair or replacement. Little worry that the bags would hold up, though, given that the material has met the government’s safety standards for use in vehicles. You can buy an original seat belt purse online or in retail department stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Harveys also sells limited edition bags, which are produced in small quantities, in the 125-135 USD range. The Carriage seat belt purse collection ranges from a smaller hobo bag to a huge carryall. The Classic collection includes diaper bags, laptop bags, clutches and backpacks. The company also makes pencil cases and wallets from seat belts. As with most trends, other companies and individuals have jumped into the seat belt purse market.
In addition to the seat belt purse, other businesses use seat belts to design furniture. Seat belt chairs and bar stools are popular, especially in the restaurant and bar industry. Schools and libraries often rely on the sturdy seat belt material due to its durability. Original proponents of seat belt furniture also touted the products as environmentally friendly, since much of the product used would have ended up in landfills. The fashion industry also introduced clothing belts made of seat belts, some with car brand buckles.