Together for tomorrow


Onesimo Bam layers plastic waste to create his One I Am bag

by | Jul 23, 2020

Onesimo is a surface designer, artist and the founder of One I Am, a fashion brand that is about world making. His recycled plastic bag forms part of the five-part #RefashionPlastic collection. For this year’s #PlasticFreeMzansi campaign we collaborated with five designers who have made garments and accessories from plastic waste.  Illustrating circular design, VIVIERS Studio, Our Workshop, One I AM, Not Just a Comb and Crystal Birch have given plastic the value it deserves. Their designer items are now in a surprise basket travelling between five personalities (one per week of July) who are re-wearing and styling these garments as they wish.

Onesimo’s design approach is organic. “There is no planning and I try not to use my mind, I let my hands take control and capture feelings that I am not even aware of. I consider my work my journal,” says Onesimo.

Onesimo spoke to us about #RefashionPlastic:

Making the bag

The bag was initially an A3 size tote bag made from black plastic bags cut into strips which I wove together –  I am obsessed with grids. These were held together with contact sheet. But I had to think about the bag’s durability.  I dis-assembled the first bag and used it as embellishment. The black bag became panels on a re-enforced Musica shopping bag to make the big, rectangular bag. So it’s safe to say I have recycled!



The pattern is something I didn’t even think of – it just happened organically.  But I did stay with the idea that the bag must show the beautiful textures of plastic. I used the waste I had at the time.  It was a bit of a challenge because I have never worked with plastic in this form. It took about a week to make the bag because I had to redo it to make it stronger. I had to travel around Cape Town to find a seamstress who didn’t think I was crazy wanting to sew a bag from plastic bags…



What this project taught me is that we tend to take things for granted. We do not know what to do with our waste and don’t understand the impact it has on the planet.  Now, I am transforming unsold garments from previous collections into new pieces. I have been experimenting with plastic too. One of my close friend’s always reminds me of this saying: Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. Most of my fabric is natural but sometimes due to lack of funds I buy synthetics. I want to change this and only natural fabrics


It has changed even the way I live. Now I always carry tote bags to the grocery store instead of buying new plastic bags.


I was very stunned by the beauty that I found during this project, and from the innate beauty of something we totally disregard – plastic waste. I used that specific quote by Li Edelkoort because of the current times we are living in. Li says, “This doesn’t mean we will stop making beautiful things; on the contrary, beauty is a form of activism”.


  • Images by Jackie May and supplied by Onesimo
  • We’ll be interviewing Onesimo on Twyg Instagram live on Friday 24 July, 2020 at 1.30pm
  • You can read about the #RefashionProject here.
  • Design collaborator, Crystal Birch here.
  • Design collaborator, Hamzeh Alfaraneh here. 
  • Design collaborator Our Workshop here.
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