Eel skin – the new and ethical face of leather

August 25, 2009 by greenmystyle 

bobelle-theia-clutchDry eel skin was used by American Indians for its healing properties but has now become a popular ethical alternative to leather for shoes, handbags, belts and wallets. Lucie Goulet investigates the rise of eel skin in fashion.

Eel skin is a by-product of the food industry in Asia. However, thanks to the material’s resistance and easy absorption of dyes, eel skin is proving to be a highly stylish alternative to leather.

What makes it good for bags
Using eel skin as an alternative to leather is nothing new. Browse any vintage shop and you’re quite likely to find shoes and bags made from this material, dating back to the Second World War. Interestingly, eel skin is suppler and stronger than normal leather, and the fact that no two skins are the same means that every item made is truly unique.

Who uses eel skin
British label BoBelle, founded by Claire Watt-Smith, specialises in fair traded eel skin accessories, from handbags to dinky purses. BoBelle’s feminine clutch bag which retails at £79, is available in a smoky white hue, and is adorned with a delicate bow. This clutch comes in dusky pink, ravishing red and rioja red and is a sure-fire way to liven up evening wear.

BoBelle’s clutch bag


7 Responses to “Eel skin – the new and ethical face of leather”

  1. Vicky on August 26th, 2009 9:59 AM

    Love, love, love! Eel skin is so soft and strong and love BoBelle’s strong ethics. This bag is gorgeous and I love the red lining. BoBelle is bringing ethical and affordable fair trade fashion to a new level. Just seen 20% off with!

  2. Clare on August 27th, 2009 5:38 PM

    Makki has a beautiful range, fully deserving the Fashion Collection of 2009!
    I have been buying from Makki for the last few years & I always turn heads with their designs. This Teal is gorgous! I can see another investment coming!
    Thanks x
    P.S the beautiful finish & their Eco policy is definitely a plus.

  3. Vanessa on September 30th, 2009 9:36 PM

    Bobelle’s bags are absolutely gorgeous. It’s such a luxurious feel–so unexpected for eel skin! You would think it would be slimy but it’s so soft you don’t want to take your hands off it!
    The Hemara bag in gray is by far my favorite. I just put it on Green By Design’s top ten list for Fall Eco Fashion!

  4. Dilly on November 5th, 2009 12:19 PM

    Too gorgeous!! Eelskin is sooooo funky but doesn’t smell at all fishy – how about that!? I recently saw a super range of Japanese sex-toys made from lacquered eelskin. And a small eelskin stuffed with lead shot makes an excellent cosh!

  5. Vicky on November 20th, 2009 6:28 PM

    Oooh, just seen BoBelle’s new Aphrodite Wallet in Caramel and bought it for my friend for Christmas – will let you know what it is like, but i expect it is gorgeous! Saw BoBelle in Yates Buchanan in Notting Hill…ooh lala!

  6. Vickie on June 29th, 2010 12:00 PM

    Really luxurious to use, looks a million dollars and is a daily treat. I have the aphrodite wallet in red and the hemera in purple! The bag is larger than I was expecting, lovely lining. I purchased a clutch bag in eel skin about 15 plus years ago and it was so expensive then – still have it and still use it – they get better with age.

  7. Vickie on June 29th, 2010 12:07 PM

    Good to know that buying such luxury, in my opinion, items, is ethical. Good for Bobelle!

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