Just as you can make leather out of the skin of cows, deer, crocodiles or snakes, you can also make leather from the skin of fish. The Egyptians did it thousands of years ago. Fish skin leather or fishleather is a rare type of marine animal leather and the skin surface is often very small. Fish leather, with the exception of wolffish skin, usually has a scaly structure, is thinner than calfskin and is considered to be very elastic and tear-resistant. Fishleather has a strong character, which can be a challange to designers. Its strength lies in its unique appearance and highly diverse textures, based on the firm foundation of practical qualities it has as it is thin, flexible, yet remarkably strong.
Best known fishleather in recent years is probably stingray as objects made from stingray leather have grown in popularity, thanks to the glass bead-like surface structure of the skin, but salmon and wolffish leather are competing fierily for the attention of designers.
Design goods made with fishleather have a elegance and the hallmark of quality. The variety of surfaces open up for a wide selection of design possibilities and use in luxury goods. Fish leather, with the exception of wolffish skin, usually has a scaly structure and is stronger than other leather types of the same thicknesses. Over time it develops even stronger character, creating nice patina, and those that have once bought fishleather share with designers a growing passion for this versatile material.
Fishleather has a secret, which is well known to owners of fishleather design good, it is extraordinarily duarable and the more it is used the more characther of the leather emerges. Fish leather is about nine times stronger than lamb or cow leather of similar thickness. This is because the fibre structure of fish skin runs crosswise, rather than parallel as in, for example, cowhide. The tensile strength of fish leather reaches up to 90 Newtons (e.g. salmon or perch).
Being stronger than regular leather due to the alignment of fibers within the leather, it can serve purpose in everything from jewelry to handbag to panels! The sky is the limit when it comes to creating new platforms for functionality in fish leather!
The fish leather produced at Atlantic Leather is environmentally friendly in two different ways: it is a bi-product of the fishing industry, utilising raw material that would not otherwise be used; and the production process makes use of renewable hydro and geothermal energy.
The manufacturing principle for fish leather production was developed by the Nanai people from Eastern Siberia, who traditionally make fish leather garments. Today Eco-friendly Fish Leather is an exotic leather made from fish skins that are discarded by the seafood industry (non-endangered food species). This natural byproduct is repurposed into a luxurious leather by tannery in North Iceland, utilising renewable hydro and geothermal energy. The month-long process is similar to tanning other types of animal skins, and produces a durable, odor-free leather that is stronger than cow leather. The distinctive scale pattern of each fish is unique, highlighted with metallic finishes to create an incredible array of vibrant colors and textures.
We buy almost all our fishleather from the tannery of Atlantic leather in Iceland. Atlantic Leather is stationed in Sauðárkrókur, a small but vibrant community of roughly 3000 inhabitants, located in the heart of Skagafjörður. Atlantic Leather is a world leader in manufacturing exotic leather from fishskin in addition to the more traditional longwool sheepskin tanning. The fishleather is produced from four different species of fish; Salmon, perch, wolffish and cod – each with its own unique characteristics – in a diverse range of colours, textures and finishes. The development of the fish leather has been in process since 1994, but the idea itself is rooted in tradition whereas centuries ago Icelanders wore shoes made of wolffish skin.
-Voted best luxury leather in the world at APLF Hong Kong leather
-Winner of the “Tannery of the Year- Europe Territory 2016” awards,
presented by World Leather Magazine
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Non of the type of fish used by Good old company and tanned by Atlantic leather is found on the list of CITES. Because of this we can claim that we are a company creating sustainable fashion, working with green energy and as environmentally friendly as possible at each time.
Fish Leather requires the same care as any leather product. Spot clean with mild soap and water or use a suede brush. Use a polishing cloth on silver and gold settings. Avoid swimming in your jewelry or prolonged saturation in water (hand washing is fine). Bracelets with copper cores are adjustable; squeeze and shape for a comfortable fit on your wrist
Origin: Salmon lives wild in the North Atlantic ocean, and returns to Icelandic rivers to breed. Salmon for human consumption is also farmed in sea pens off Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and elsewhere. All the skin of salmon used by Atlantic Leather is sourced from salmon farms in the Nordic countries.
Salmon leather is thin, flexible and very strong. The texture of salmon leather is both smooth and refined, while the distinguishing feathure of Salmon fish leather is a narrow line down the middle of the skin.
Origin of Cod: Throughout the ages, cod has been caught off the coast of Iceland’s shores for human consumption, and even today it comprises the largest share of Iceland’s seafood exports. Cod is praised by food connoisseurs around the world for its delicate flavor and firm white flesh, and Icelandic “saltfiskur” or bacalao (salted cod) is for instance, a delicacy in Portugal and Spain. Atlantic Leather sources cod hides from Icelandic fisheries companies.
The texture of Cod fishleather is highly unusual combination of rough and smooth. When Cod is tanned into leather the resulting texture is irregular in no discernible pattern. There is no way of controlling the varied texture that emerge, making each piece unique, but it can be compressed and varnished to create a smooth and silky version. Cod leather is thin and supple, yet very strong.
Origin of wolffish: The wolffish is a demersal (deep-sea) species, which is caught for human consumption in the seas off the coast Iceland. Atlantic Leather sources its wolffish skins from Icelandic fishing companies.
Wolffish is the only fish leather with a smooth surface. It has a spotted pattern that creates its unique character. You can not miss the dark spotted pattern of the skin and wolffish is also the only fishleather with out scales. What ever the colour finish of the skin is the spots will always shine through, except of course in black.
The silky smooth finish and bold spotted pattern have a special charm of their own giving the Wolffish the name “leopard of the ocean”.
Origin: The Nile perch is fished for human consumption from Lake Victoria, by the people of the surrounding countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Atlantic Leather sources its fish skins from fish-processing companies in Africa.
The skins of the Perch are large and thick with rough texture. The big scales lend Perch leather a unique character. The leather has a natural raw and wild texture that looks good both in dark and light colours and when combined with metallic finish the scale pattern is intensified. What ever the finish and texture, perch leather is certain attention grabber.
Making leather from fish skins is an age-old craft historically used by many coastal cultures, now revived with contemporary tanning and dyeing methods. Native Icelanders made their shoes from wolf fish leather, and reportedly measured distances by how many pairs of shoes would be worn out walking over the path!
In Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, water-resistant salmon leather was used for bags, parkas, and clothing.
The Egyptians did it thousands of years ago and so did the Nanai people. Northern Indians used fish leather as clothing and footwear early on: from the Joepik in Alaska, the Inuit in Canada and Greenland, the Samen in Lapland to the Aino on the northern islands of Japan and Russia. The Icelanders, as well as Norwegians also used the skins of fish to make shoes.
In the eighteenth century, fish leather was used as luxury upholstery material for perfume bottles, powder boxes and cases, and in particular during the Art Deco period (1920-1939) it became popular for handbags, cigarette boxes and furniture.
In French this method of decorative application of fish leather is also called galuchat, named after the inventor Jean-Claude Galluchat.
The Hezhe ethnic tribe from northeast China was also known as the “fish leather tribe” because of their traditional fish skin dress.The Nanai people of far east Siberia are known to have used fishleather, The Nanai people are a Tungusic people of the Far East, who have traditionally lived along Heilongjiang (Amur), Songhuajiang (Sunggari) and Ussuri rivers on the Middle Amur Basin. The economy of the people living there was based on fishing. Their traditional clothing was made out of fish skins. These skins were left to dry and once they where dry, they were struck repeatedly with a mallet to make them completely smooth. Finally they were sewn together into panels and clothes or footwear. In the past centuries, this distinct practice earned the Nanai the name Yupi Tartars or “Fish-skin Tartars”