The fish skin corset

Clothes made from fish skin deliver a message about sustainability

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 3 August 2022

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Main image credit: Martin Hill

A corset made from real fish skin aims to deliver a message about sustainability.
 
Fashion Design undergraduate Beatrice Hill, 22, created the garment using salmon skin that had been treated and turned into a leather as a message about fast fashion and the environment.

’It’s all about using waste’

Beatrice – who has also made a fish leather belt bag – wanted to show that using by-products of the food industry is more sustainable than faux materials.
 
The vegetarian Nottingham Trent University student bought the material from a specialist supplier which normally provides fish leather for handbags and wallets.
 
As part of the project, she created her own fish leather by treating the skin with natural substances, including glycerine and water, and cleaning the material with an eco-lemon washing-up liquid to remove the odour.

‘Research shows that creating fake leather is worse for the planet in terms of carbon emissions than using materials that are otherwise ethical and sustainably available.
 
‘A lot of good quality fish skin – which is sustainably farmed – is thrown away, but could be put to use. The world is not going to stop eating fish any time soon, and so it’s reasonable for by-products of the food industry to be used in this way.
 
‘As my collection is about journeys, I chose to use salmon skin. All of the fish skins I treated in this project were sourced from the bin of a fishmongers which only sells sustainably farmed fish. In other parts of my collection, I used leather made from lamb skin, which was otherwise being thrown away. It’s all about using waste.’

BEATRICE HILL
Nottingham School of Art & Design

Designed for expression

The corset is intended to be worn as an outer garment. It was made with 10 fish skins which were roughly 60 centimetres long and sewn together as panels.
 
Like normal leather, the seams were hammered down and not ironed to avoid the leather shrinking. The final material appears seamless on the outside and has a slightly rough surface which is a result of the scales being removed. The inside has been lined with lamb leather.

Beatrice chose to create a corset because of her love of corsetry and how the garment can allow women to express themselves. But unlike traditional corsets, it’s not designed to be tight fitting. Instead it’s intended to be complemented by a skirt that pushes out at the hips to exaggerate the female shape.

‘Beatrice has communicated a powerful and important message here in relation to clothing and sustainability, particularly as a vegetarian herself who cares for animals.
 
‘By creating a fish leather corset, made entirely from ethically and sustainably farmed fish, she is demonstrating how beautiful garments of almost any kind can be made from by-products of the food industry, with a minimal impact on the environment.’

LEE MATTOCKS
Senior lecturer in Fashion Design at Nottingham Trent University

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