Depending on who you ask, leather can have a negative connotation. Not only are some animals bred and killed specifically for their hides, but the tanning process often uses toxic chemicals and a lot of energy. At its worst, it is an incredibly wasteful, inefficient, and toxic process all in the name of fashion. The good news? Innovative companies are stepping up to the plate to design conscious leather alternatives.
One such company is Atlantic Leather. Based on a centuries-old tradition of making shoes out of fish skin, this Iceland-based company is creating leather out of fish. Yes, fish leather. It sounds hard to believe, but this cutting edge company has developed a process to make a beautiful, sustainable alternative to traditional leather that utilizes the by-product, or waste, from the fishing industry.
Using just four species of fish - salmon, wolfish, cod, and perch - the company produces durable leather in multiple different colors and finishes (shiny, matte, waxy, and metallic) to create over 1,400 different variations of the leather. Atlantic Leather has even developed a machine-washable salmon leather (the first of its kind in the world).
All of the fish skin used in the production of the leather would have otherwise been discarded and the company prides itself on never using any hides from animals that were bred for their skin. If using only waste-products to create the leather isn’t enough, the company takes its sustainability efforts to the next level by using geothermal heat and hydroelectric electricity to power its operations. Furthermore, it has developed a tanning method that uses far fewer chemicals than traditional leather manufacturing to reduce the toxicity of the process, and it offers vegetable and mineral tanning options that use natural substances to tan the leather.
Brands such as Nike are beginning to take notice of this inventive Icelandic operation to provide a more sustainable alternative to the leather used in its own products and we hope it’s just the beginning.