The Idea Of Salmon Skin Handbags Isn't As Fishy As It SoundsDate Posted: 04 March 2015
Meet Heidi Carneau and Adèle Taylor. In 2013, they launched their appropriately-named fashion label, Heidi and Adèle, with the goal of bringing new, high-quality, and original accessories to the market - that would also protect the environment.
Their secret ingredient? Fish leather.
Over e-mail, the duo writes they strongly believe this is the material of the future. Unlike traditional leather, whose downsides include harmful dyes, among many other things, fish leather simultaneously takes in dyes faster - and looks exotic to boot.
Yet salmon and eel skin are often wasted in land fills. I recently chatted Heidi and Adèle over email about why fish leather really matters, what they hope to accomplish with their line, and what inspires them as designers.
First off, can you explain why fish leather has more benefits than traditional leather?
The environmental benefits are straightforward: waste product is upcycled and transformed with great skill and care into luxury items. We feel the scales on the salmon and the spine ridge on the eel offer visual and sensory characteristics that are as striking as python or crocodile but without the environmental footprint. They are not endangered species and are farmed for their flesh, not just their skin.
Does it benefit the actual designs in other ways?
The eco-exotic skins are the key focus in our designs. For example, the spine ridge on the eel looks best in angular designs so we have worked them in pieces that show them off, such as our Pick Me Up clutch. The salmon scales are very striking and look fabulous on small accessories or as detailing on larger items; using this skin in the right places transforms a casual bag into a work of art!
Are there any designers or collections that have profoundly changed the way you approach your own work?
We are admirers of Anya Hindmarsh who has inspired us to merge form with function in all of our designs. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes set our benchmark with regards to attention to detail. However, it is the family-run, independent workshop in Brittany where we first discovered salmon leather that has probably been our greatest influence to date.
Has your approach changed the way you perceive the world in any surprising ways?
Rather than changing our perception, we use our designs as a medium to educate others on the benefits of eco-exotic leather. We would like to see the brutal practices of harvesting traditional exotic skins often from endangered species replaced with eco-exotic sustainable leathers like our own.
How have people responded?
We have received a lot of client feedback; generally surprised, and sometimes shocked, at our capacity to make luxury items from fish leather. Being able to change their perception of what sustainable luxury is and providing them with a beautiful alternative to traditional exotics is our way of making the world a little bit better.
How do you fuel your creative process? Any tips for others looking for inspiration?
Our life and work motto - happiness is the greatest measure of success - is a great source of inspiration for us. Our designs are happy and adventurous, inspired by trips overseas to visit our manufacturers, coffees with friends giving us feedback and brainstorming sessions with fellow designers. It may be a real cliché but we take our inspiration from everything and everyone around us.
Ultimately, what do you hope the label accomplishes besides diminishing the illegal trade of exotic animals?
We believe the fashion world has only just begun a new evolution where independent designers and quality, durable pieces will take over from throwaway, repetitive items. We are spearheading this movement by creating an authentic, high quality product which as a by-product of the food industry massively reduces the environmental and ethical impact of high fashion and hope the public will follow.
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