The Brazilian designer Oskar Metsavaht has reused the fish skin from the Arapaima fish from the Amazonian rivers and lakes by converting it into sustainable clothing in the form of clothing and fashion accessories. The designer developed the material as an alternative to traditional cowhide, the production of which is environmentally harmful. Livestock raising is a major contributor to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Sustainable clothing for a better environment
The arapaima fish has been a staple food among the people of northern Brazil for centuries. However, they discard the skin after eating the fish. For this reason, Metsavaht, founder of the Brazilian fashion brand Osklen, decided to use the wasted fish skin for new, luxurious but sustainable clothing, with a range of ready-made clothing such as jackets and accessories such as handbags that combine aesthetics and ethics. The designer believes that as a leather substitute, this material is much more environmentally friendly than cowhide itself.
The Arapaima skin is not only more environmentally friendly, but also thinner, softer and therefore much more flexible than conventional leather. The material is therefore suitable for articles that are used a lot.
Osklen also buys the fish skins exclusively from communities that work with sustainably managed fisheries. In these you can only catch the fish from a certain size of over 1.5 meters. Only 20 percent of the types of fish are allowed to be taken from each lake or river.
Versatile reuse of fish skin
The fish skins can be processed like leather, so you can make many types of fashion items. The fish is then transported to a tannery where the hide is processed, treated and delivered to Osklen suppliers. There the material is processed into a luxury leather for the production of shoes, wallets, women’s bags and other items.
The design team believes that there is already enough waste everywhere in the world, and that humans can hardly handle any more of it. In addition, there is no point in making products from newly acquired materials if you already have sufficient alternatives. We are pushing the planet’s resources to the limit, while finding and reusing pre-existing materials and by-products instead of throwing them away.
The brand also sees the rededication of fish skin as a positive social and environmental impact. The material is handcrafted by local artisans, creating additional jobs and income for the fishermen and their families who can not only sell the meat but also sell the skin.
* Designer website