Rothöll works with Icelandic fish leather that we purchase directly from a leather maker in the northern part of the country. The material has an unmistakably lively structure, thanks to the scale pockets that remain on the hand-tanned leather. Its velvety feel is reminiscent of silk or handmade paper, but with high elasticity on account of the net-like fibres that are arranged in layers on top of one another. In spite of its delicate appearance, our lightweight fish leather is extremely durable compared to other types of leather. In contrast to animal leathers of the same thickness, fish leather does not tear, even after years of everyday use.
FISH LEATHER FROM ICELAND
Today, fish strikes us as an odd source of material for leather making. However, native peoples of Alaska and Siberia developed techniques for processing fish skins into water resistant, highly durable clothing thousands of years ago. Our current methods build upon these traditions, and take up to 45 days to complete. The skins are first stripped of scales and fat by machine, the fish oil extracted, then the skins are soaked, drummed, freeze-dried and dyed. The details of this process remain a secret that only few specialised tanneries know. The finished fish leather does not smell of fish at all, much in the same way that leather of pig- or cowhide does not smell like its origin.
LONG-LASTING DESIGN - MADE FOR DURABILITY
Rothöll is taking a stand against the throwaway culture and predetermined breaking points common to many products. Our fish leather takes on greater expressiveness and beauty over time- rather than aging, it patinates. Durable fittings, lasting threads and optimised stitching ensure that Rothöll’s bags and accessories withstand intensive use. Classically elegant designs with a certain twist set our products apart from in-your-face fashion trends.
Our Icelandic tannery only processes the skins of fish caught for eating; these skins would otherwise have been thrown out as a waste product of the fishing industry. The raw material for our salmon leather is not fished from the wild, but comes from Scandinavian aquacultures; the perch skins are from the East African Lake Victoria. Fishing the Nile perch for food there helps control the population of this predatory species that does not exist naturally, but rather had been introduced to the ecosystem by humans. When we make fish leather, we also support the continuation of a traditional handicraft into our modern times.
Salmon skin has small, neatly arranged scale pockets resulting in leather that looks both lavish and delicate. Often the lateral line of the fish is recognisable and enriches an otherwise quiet texture with fascinating colour nuances.
The skins we process are sourced exclusively from Scandinavian fish farms and not from endangered wildlife populations. They are waste products from aquaculture that breed fish for eating.
The large, often irregularly arranged scale pockets give the perch skin’s texture a wild character. The Nile perch is in a sense the rock star of fish leathers. The raw material for our perch leather comes from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In the regions surrounding Lake Victoria, where the Nile perch was introduced by humans in the 1960’s, local people enjoy it as an edible fish. Fishing this species is a relief to the ecosystem, as this predatory fish’s population has exploded and currently endangers the native cichlid species.
The texture of cod leather is an unusual combination of soft and rough areas. The distribution of these areas is not controllable during the tanning process. The colours behave in a similar way, varying individually. One fundamental tone is determined by lots of tones which can be layered in some sections. The surface seems delicate and the texture is very fine. Cod has been fished on the coasts of Iceland for human consumption during all times and it still forms the largest part of the Icelandic saltwater fish export. Cod is praised by gourmets in the whole world for it’s fine taste. Icelandic “Salted cod” for example is a delicacy in Portugal or Spain.
PROPER CARE FOR YOUR FINE LEATHER
Fish leather is durable and easy to care for. A natural patina that protects the surface is created through progressive use so that application of additional creams or polish is not necessary. Even with intensive use, the texture of the scale pockets remains. Long-lasting and intensive exposure to sunlight can cause some fading of some of the dyes. As with all other leathers, any items that may have got wet or damp should be laid out to dry at room temperature.