Hook, Line and Clutches

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“A new form of expression for the modern, sophisticated, stylish woman” is how Heidi & Adele describe their 18-month old accessories business. Their unique selling point? Remnants of discarded fish skins that are traditionally used to make fishmeal paste for animals.

While traditional leather handbags don’t phase consumers, they might be hesitant about a clutch made from scaly-amphibian-leftovers. However, fish leather is a cheap environmentally friendly alternative to the high demand of cow-leather; that industry will be worth £32bn in 2020. The World Bank reports that fish production has escalated from 5m to 63m tonnes in the last thirty years. That’s potential for a lot of scaly accessories.

Furthermore, cows are the biggest emitter of methane gas quickly destroying our ozone layer. According to The Independent, it takes a “staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.” Heidi Carneau and Adele Taylor swim with the sharks as famous brands such as Nike, Prada and Dior also adopt fish leather because of the toxic leather tanning process. Brands too are looking for more ecological fabrics with prospects for a niche market.

(If you’re squeamish, look away now.) Working with an Icelandic salmon factory and an eel-processing plant in Korea, the eco-exotic range includes bags, purses and wallets. Will my £160 eel-bag attract stray cats with its fishy-odour? However, while H&A label themselves as “upholding the values of ethical trading and sustainable sourcing” creating ‘eco-exotic’ products, the food industry’s by-product is actually already being environmentally reused, so fish leather doesn’t seem to solve a waste problem.

But it could help save our ozone layer.

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3 thoughts on “Hook, Line and Clutches”

  1. Hi Emily, Thank you very much for this post on our brand! One thing I wanted to mention was the price of fish leather. The tanning process, while being far lighter than the one for cow leather is complex and expensive. The price of tanned fish skin far exceeds the price of traditional leather such as cow and is actually a tad more expensive than exotic leather like python. Our rationale for using fish leather is to create an ethical, luxury alternative to traditional exotics which, similarly to the fur industry, kill animals just for their skin and often target endangered species. Fish leather is a by-product of the food industry so no animals are killed for the purpose of creating this leather. And with the scales, most people think of it as snakeskin. Thanks again for your interest, Heidi

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    • Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to say this was a University opinion piece and so I felt like I had to convey a “strong” opinion about your brand, just for academic purposes. I hope nothing I said came off as rude and I understand completely where you’re coming from, re price and the scales (though it’s surprising to learn that it’s more expensive than python!) I think your products are beautiful and I wish you both every success.

      Best,
      Emily

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      • Hi Emily, no not at all, and I am flattered you picked us as your topic! It is a common misconception that fish skin is cheap as it is a waste product to begin with. The main source of cost is the labour as the fish need to be hand skinned by a skilled worker and as you can imagine, salaries in Iceland are hundreds of times higher than those in Indonesia which is where most pythons come from.
        All the best

        Liked by 1 person

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