What is fish leather?

Fish leather is the end product after the processing of various fish skins through a series of specific tanning techniques, developed after years of efforts by our various suppliers.

What makes it eco-friendly?

Fish leather comes from a by-product of the food industry which means that fish are killed for their flesh, not for their skins. This means that no extra energy, food supplies or water are needed to provide the base materials Heidi & Adèle work with.

The tanning process used for fish is also far lighter than the one used for regular leathers, which requires strong chemical products to strip the hairs from the hide or skin. As fish have no hair, this step is unnecessary.

Our salmon leather supplier is based in Iceland and all the energy required for making the skins comes from geo-thermal activity.

What fish can be used?

Technically any fish skin can go through the tanning process. Each species will have its own markings, texture and thickness. At Heidi & Adèle, we choose to work with salmon and eel, based on their visual and physical qualities.

What are the differences between the species?

Heidi & Adèle works only with non-endangered species. Each of these has their own particularities:

Salmon: a resistant leather available in multiple finishes. The scales pattern is reminiscent of snakeskin but it is much softer to the touch and takes colour far more readily.

Eel: Very smooth, fluid leather with a luxurious appearance, eel leather is dubbed “Silk of the Ocean”. The pin-stripe markings on the back of each skin make it instantly recognisable. Despite a delicate look, it is twice as strong as full grain cow leather.

Why is fish leather unknown?

Whilst cow, sheep and goat leather have been wardrobe staples since the stone ages, fish leather is still very much unheard of. There are plenty of reasons for this; firstly the extra care needed when removing the fish skin means that aside from the fact few people have the necessary skills required to do so, and there is also a limited supply of unspoiled skins available. The small size of each individual skin makes the overall process longer, more complicated and far pricier than for larger animals; therefore its availability is extremely limited.

Where do you source your fish leather from?

To optimise quality, the tanning takes place near source of farming. As such, we buy our salmon skins from Iceland and our eel from South Korea. We work with factories we have personally vetted, ensuring staff are treated fairly and work in good conditions, and that the required environmental protection measures are respected.

Does it smell?

No! The tanning process makes the skin un-putrescible and removes any parts likely to create smell, in the same way as a cow hide or sheep skin does not smell like the animal it came from.

How should I look after my Heidi & Adèle product?

The same way you would any other leather products. Avoid exposure to liquids, dirt and long stays in the sun. Should the product get stained, try rubbing gently with a damp cloth and consult a specialist cleaner if this fails. Fish leather does not require any extra specific care.

So, what are the advantages of fish leather?

Despite appearances, fish leather is incredibly strong and hard wearing. It comes without the stigma associated with snake and crocodile farming. The species selected are not endangered and by choosing eco-exotic leather over traditional exotics, you are supporting a local, legal trade and not causing unnecessary suffering. Its visual and sensory characteristics make it an ethical and luxurious addition to your wardrobe, one guaranteed to make your product stand out and get you noticed.


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