June 26, 2007 / 12:20 AM / 12 years ago

Something fishy about new designer bags

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - There’s something fishy about a new line of designer cosmetic bags and wallets.

Although they look and feel like leather, the fashion accessories are meant to appeal to environmentally conscious buyers because they are not made from the hides of animals but the skins of fish such as salmon, stingray and tilapia.

“The first benefit is that it’s eco conscious because it’s derived from the seafood industry. But it is very distinctive in that it does have a natural texture and geometric pattern,” said Lisa Strauss, of Col De Mar, which makes sea leather accessories.

Andrew Dent, the vice president of Material Connexion which is a global resource for new materials, said people are starting to be more interested in waste products because of concerns about sustainability.

“The new types of fish leather from fish such as salmon is a more sustainable alternative to wild fish leather we have seen previously such as shark skin and eel skin, mainly because the salmon is farmed for food,” he said.

“The fish skin is normally discarded as waste, but we are actually finding a good use for it in things like fashion and accessories,” he added.

Using fish skins is not new. Dent believes it has been around for centuries. But modern-day design companies are starting to realize the value of it and consumers are also showing an interest.

“It smells like leather. I think that it’s better that they can find something more abundant like fish rather than to use the skin of snakes and alligators and other animals that are not as abundant as fish,” said New York resident Kyle Toorie.

Dent believes demand for fish-skin products will grow. In addition to accessories and bags fish skin has even been used to make a bikini.

“It is new type of leather that offers designers something different,” he said. “In the last year we must have picked up four or five sources of fish skin. There is obviously demand for it now.”

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