|The "Swiss Army Recycling Collection"|
|In the tiny village of Törbel in canton Valais, a booming cottage industry is churning out fashionable accessories against a backdrop of snowy peaks.
Törbel is home to the unique and trendy "Swiss Army Recycling Collection" an ensemble of bags, key rings and rucksacks made from old Swiss Army blankets
In a tucked-away workshop local women buzz away at sewing machines, producing the distinctive brown-grey designs with a red stripe and a white Swiss cross.
|Titus Karlen (left) and Walter Maurer|
After discovering that the Swiss army had stockpiles of unused blankets left over from their switch to sleeping bags in the sixties, he quickly started incorporating the material into his work.
"They were produced in case of war and we never had a war, so now they're old but never used. "
The wool is fairly coarse, which makes it ideal for heavy-duty bags and the design has proved to be a firm favourite with the younger generation.
"The techno generation buys this stuff," he muses. "I'm always happy when I see them walking around with their bags."
But the trendy "clubbing" audience would probably never imagine where the bags come from.
Törbel is a sleepy village, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life and at first sight the workshop's location seems completely incongruous.
Standard Army issue
Apart from the zips and fasteners, everything that goes into the items is ex-army standard issue. The straps are disused gun leashes, softened and flattened by a special machine and soldier's belts act as seam strengtheners.
The workshop is a hive of activity and buzzes with the sounds of sewing machines, hole punchers, zips and leather softening machines.
The collection has proved so popular that plans are afoot to move to bigger premises.
But for the moment at least the small team continue to work flat out to meet the increasing deman