In ancient Rome, leather was a currency traded to created high-quality sandals, which conveyed a citizen’s status in society. While leather can no longer be used as cash, it still maintains its reputation as a luxurious product. Alligators, stingrays, snakes, and even hippopotamus skins have all been utilized in luxury exotic leather goods, but now salmon skin is becoming a more popular material. London-based brand Aitch Aitch is taking an all-encompassing, eco-friendly approach to high fashion by developing handbags that use traditional leatherworking techniques on sustainably-raised salmon skin.
Aitch Aitch sources all of its handbag materials from organic salmon farms in Ireland, where the fishes’ skins are a natural by-product of their life cycle. After the skins are collected, they are taken to a non-toxic, non-chemical and family-run tannery in Europe, where they are carefully worked for ultimate durability and quality. The finished skins are then brought to a studio in London, where they are each assembled by a master craftswomen by hand. Hailey Harmon, the company’s founder and creative director, chose to use salmon skin after seeing its use in Nordic furnishings and interiors on a trip to Iceland. Harmon loves working with this medium because, “it looks and acts similar to an exotic, so unlike a cowhide, every piece really has to be hand cut…even though it looks and acts in some ways like an exotic, it’s extremely durable.”
The brand’s eco-friendly practices have earned it international attention. Positive Luxury recently granted Aitch Aitch its Butterfly Mark award, signifying it as a sustainable brand that eco-conscious consumers can trust. Other recipients of the award include luxury giants such as Louis Vuitton, Loewe, and Sergio Rossi, to name a few. No big deal. When asked about the ethical ethos of her brand, Harmon answers that, “I truly believe that there is no reason to compromise quality, luxury, or sustainability.” She also credits her upbringing just north of San Francisco as one of the biggest reasons she maintains an eco-friendly attitude. “I was raised spending a lot of time outdoors, and I have always found a kind of spiritual peace in nature, so it’s very important to me to preserve it,” she explains.
The eco-friendly trend isn’t going anywhere fast. According to data compiled by Nielsen, 75 percent of millennials would pay more for a product with more sustainable offerings, especially when they are coming from brands that dedicate themselves to a positive environmental and social impact. In a world full of fast fashion, Aitch Aitch continues previous green trends by bringing together innovative, eco-conscious materials together with the quality you’d expect from a luxury brand. Harmon plans to play with different dyes and finishes on products for future collections, so stay tuned for what’s to come.
Just Luxe | May 2017