HLN – From trash to design

“When people eat fish, they mostly only really eat the fillets as they are sold in the supermarkets these days. Heads and tails are sometimes bought to process into animal feed, but everything else is just discarded. 99% of all the fish skins ends as waste. An enormous flood of unused potential.
I had been looking for a suitable material to bag my handbags out of since a while. I was searching for something that had the same qualities as conventional cow-leather regarding durability but more eco-friendly. You quickly end up with so-called faux leather or ‘vegan’-leather but that really is a euphemistic term for a type of plastic. Materials based on fruits such as pineapples are currently also being developed as an alternative to leather. But those haven’t got the luxury texture and long life-cycle (yet) that I wanted.
After researching for a while, I discovered salmon-leather. It is super strong, lasts forever, if soft in texture, ages as beautifully as cow-leather and as luxurious as snake-leather.

It looks like a guilty pleasure, but you don’t have to feel guilty at all.

As a material, it is more eco-friendly than cowhide that needs an intensive and toxic processing into leather. Fish don’t have hair and that makes it a lot easier to tan it. I only work with sustainable fisheries in Scandinavia who farm their fish in a sustainable way, who manage the fish stock thoughtfully and work on renewable energy.”

“The funny thing is, I’ve been a vegetarian whole my life and thus I don’t eat fish. For many people, that is a paradox. But for me, it is a well-considered choice. Sustainability is more than merely a story of the source of a product. It also extends to the life-cycle of that product. If I’d make a vegan handbag that ends up in a landfill after 6 months, that is less sustainable than a fish-leather handbag that may last you a lifetime or that you could repair when broken.
Everyone has his or her own opinion on what is most important and nobody can decide for someone else.

But I find it important that my accessories are timeless and I’m a firm believer in slow fashion. That is why I’ve kept my designs rather classic and black. They will match your outfit today, but also in 20 years from now.
I want to prove that ethics and aesthetics can coincide in 2018. That is what I miss in the world of fashion today. You either have brands that make gorgeous items but don’t take ethics too seriously. On the other hand, you have so-called honest brands that don’t really seem to know what is happening in the world of fashion and design today.”

“I want to keep everything affordable and that is why I work with fairtrade workshops in India where also people with disabilities can make a fair wage. Why I don’t have everything produced in Europe?
Well, before Ms. Bay, I have worked for 4 years in Tanzania with NGO’s. Pure fundraising and charity. But during my work there, I also got in touch with fair trade and I noticed a huge difference.

I truly believe in the principle of ‘Trade, not aid’.

In the long run, fair trade can generate such big impact on a community in the developing world. That’s really something that I think a lot about. You wouldn’t tell, but I’m actually a treehugging hippie in disguise (laughs)”

I’m ambitious and I want to bring my brand far, but I’m also careful. For now, I just want to find enough retailers in Europe and convince the public of the luxurious quality of my product. But my partner Lawrence helps me with the designing, and we’re both already dreaming of a Mr. Bay.. ”

source: Het Laatste Nieuws, Nina Weekend Magazine, 24/02/18