by Jana Branch
- Fish leather is showing up in bespoke shoes, handbags, purses and anywhere else that conscientious fashionistas want an unusual texture without endangering exotic animals.
- Designer Marianne Kooimans creates high-fashion, handcrafted shoes and accessories made from custom-dyed tilapia, perch and salmon leathers. At $425, her shoes are a one-of-a-kind purchase of a lifetime; but the fish leather is durable, and avid fans say that the dreamy feel of these shoes will see any woman into her old age.
- TheVelvetVixen sells fish leather and rayon blouses on Etsy, while designer Asher Levine takes it to the New York runways.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- Fish leather is more sustainable than the likes of snake or alligator, but the challenge for any designer is that fish skins are small and oddly sized. Custom and bespoke is the name of the game.
- In fashion, certain materials (like snake or alligator) reek of old luxury. New luxury depends on sustainable materials that offer new possibilities in look and feel.
- Fashion mavens are thinking more about buying classics — fewer quality purchases rather than turning the closet over every season or following every trend.
- Marianne Kooimans fish leather shoes and accessories are sold at her store KOKO Venice: 1227 Abbott Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA; 310-392-7770.
- Find TheVelvetVixen blouse on Etsy.
- DIY instructions for making fish leather are available on eHow.com, but step 7 — “crush the bark from an Australian Gum tree” — might stop you cold.