With fishing and fish farming on the increase, it has been reported that producing one tonne of fish fillets results in around 40kg of discarded skin. Much of this is ground up and turned in to fish meal for animals but with beautiful patterns and iridescent qualities there is a much more glamorous use for this resource.
The leather created from fish skin is soft, durable and shiny making it a very versatile material to work with on its own or when combined with regular leather. Not only this but with the leather market rapidly growing, using fish skin takes the pressure off production from other animals; a pressure which can lead to animal cruelty and poor production processes.
A number of fashion houses are already using fish skin as a viable form of leather as reported by The Guardian. Sportswear brand Nike is one such label along with the likes of Prada and Dior. By combining small pieces of fish leather with regular leather, Nike has created distinctive and impressive designs which showcase the beautiful properties of the material. As the world’s leading innovator in athletic footwear the label is utilising a sustainable resource alongside its commitment to improving communities around the world to help combat global poverty.
Surprisingly, fish leather is not a new innovation. Famed shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, used it before and during World War II when regular leather for shoemaking was hard to come by and an Icelandic fish-leather company began production 20 years ago. Traditionally used by poorer sectors of society, interest in the product is continuing to grow as it becomes an old technique re-born as a modern solution to the age old problem of demand outstripping supply.
If the use of fish leather becomes more widely recognised it would be a huge win for the fashion industry. The demand for cow leather will reduce which in turn will reduce CO2 emissions released from this notoriously gassy animal. Jobs could also be created and the dramatic rise in the price of leather could be halted. Kenya is already taking the initiative to work with the Danish development agency to turn the country’s fish skin waste into leather, creating a new industry within a developing society.
Find out more about Nike’s positive actions on their brand profile page here.