Innovation That Matters

Lionfish are an invasive species that damage coral reefs | Photo source Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Protecting Florida’s coral reefs by making leather out of lionfish

Fashion & Beauty

A startup is using fashion to combat the highly invasive species damaging biodiversity on the reefs of Florida’s Atlantic coast

Spotted: Inversa, a sustainable Florida-based fashion brand, has announced a new type of sustainable leather with a unique selling point. The exotic leather is made from lionfish, a species that is highly invasive. Native to the tropical waters of the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, lionfish were first detected in US waters in the 1980s, potentially as a result of aquarium releases. The increasing presence of the highly predatory fish in Florida’s Atlantic waters is believed to be having a significant impact on the health of coral reefs and the ecosystems they support.

The idea of using the fish for leather was inspired by indigenous practices, and the goal of the initiative is to reduce the pressure on marine ecosystems while also providing an alternative to cow leather – a material criticised by many on ethical and environmental grounds.

Inversa’s leather is extremely versatile and flexible. It can be used in a variety of applications, from fashion to furniture. The company is partnering with a number of brands, including Italian footwear brand P448 and Teton Leather, who will produce accessories using the lionfish leather.

In addition to helping the environment by removing a damaging invader, Inversa’s innovative tanning process for the leather has a very small footprint using just 200 millilitres of water per skin.

The startup was recently a finalist for the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge grant by the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA).

Springwise has spotted numerous sustainable leather innovations including the world’s first cell cultivated leather, leather made from grape skins, and plastic-free leather made from hemp.

Written By: Katrina Lane



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