LOUISVILLE, Ky.-Who would want to wear recycled rubber? Environmentalists? Bikers? Teenagers? Tire dealers?
All of the above and more, according to Kim Sawatsky, who has been making his living the past two years producing clothes and other items out of used inner tubes.
``A lot of people who are concerned about the environment think this is great,'' Mr. Sawatsky said during an interview on the trade show floor of the ARA's April World Tire Conference & Exhibition. ``I've had (tire) dealers say it helps business'' to wear a tie made from recycled rubber.
According to Mr. Sawatsky, who owns Brampton, Ontario-based Extredz Recycled Rubber Products, wearing an article of recycled rubber clothing can show people you care about the environmental problems of used rubber.
Still, the 38-year-old Canadian doesn't try to delve too deeply into the environmental implications of his products.
``It's fun. Most people buy this because they like the idea of wearing recycled trash,'' he said, pointing at a sleek, black, rubber miniskirt lining his booth at the ARA trade show.
Extredz, which sells its products in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, makes ties, skirts, vests, purses, backpacks and a host of other items out of old earthmover and farm tire inner tubes. The tubes are cut into workable strips and processed to remove most of the rubber smell before being fashioned with nylon rivets into the end product.
All sorts of people purchase the rubber ready-to-wear but teenagers make up the largest customer base. Tire dealers are also some of his biggest customers.
``Some dealers hang ties and backpacks in their waiting areas,'' he said. ``It gives their customers something to talk about while they are waiting.''
And the fad is definitely catching on, he said, noting Extredz Products started out of his home but has grown to employ more than 20 in offices in Brampton and Buffalo, N.Y. The clothing line is also sold in several fashion stores in Canada.