24 October 2019



The project aims to introduce concepts such as the sustainability and craft innovation of the fish leather in the luxury industry with the final aim of substituting the luxury leather- based products while preserving ancient and innovative techniques. The technological challenge was to pilot and develop new technologies, based on artwork development for fish leather finishes together with a high component of design (inspired by Asian cultures), promoting development of future manufactured fish skin leather new products for the luxury industry.

The object of the project is the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage connected with fish skin. The collaboration and cooperation among the Icelandic tannery and fashion designer, is a fine example of an innovative way of linking the preservation of traditional knowledge and culture and the development of culturally relevant fashion items taking in consideration the sustainable limits of the planet’s natural resources.


Making leather from fish skin is an ancient craft historically used by many Arctic coastal cultures.The Fishskinlab clutch collection combines the technological progress of Atlantic Leather, an Icelandic tannery leading in manufacturing leather from fish skin with the designs of Elisa Palomino, a recognised international fashion designer. Fishskinlab presents a clutch collection inspired by the principles of sustainability.



29 May 2019

Our Cumulus conference will take place the 29th of May at Rovaniemi, Finland as part of the Arctic and Sustainable Art and Design session: Indigenous Arctic Fish skin clothing traditions: Cultural and ecological impacts on Fashion Higher Education.

Elisa Palomino. Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London, UK. Katrín María Káradóttir. Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavík, Iceland. Lotta Rhame. Lottas tannery, Sigtuna, Sweden. Joseph Boon. The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, UK

“Around the Campfire - Resilience and Intelligence" The conference discusses especially the topic of resilience. What are the means, medium and methodologies of art, design and media in contributing to the adaptability and novel innovation in coping with everyday life, geographical extremes and societal challenges? How are the topics of sustainability and resilience interconnected and interwoven? The discussion is complemented by intelligence that is visible through design applications that embrace smart, green and social innovation.

Check the programme and registration information in

Big Thanks to Society of Dye and Colourists and Nordic Culture Fund for funding this project.



13 April 2019

I will be presenting the 13th of April at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, CA during the IONA conference: From Fibre to Decorated Textiles in the Early North Atlantic: Making, Methods,Meanings  my paper on ‘Preservation of Early medieval Fish leather tradition through Higher education’. I will be examining the historical application of fishskin, the disappearance of the craft, the importance of Women and fishskin in the Arctic and the future development of the craft to disseminate best practices in fashion higher education. 



05 March 2019

British Council forum and networking event the 5th March 2019 to hear from UK and Chinese speakers about craft practice and collaboration. Through international collaboration, the British Council’s Crafting Futures programme creates new networks and opportunities for shared learning between the UK and other countries around the globe. 

Elisa Palomino will be talking about the Hezhe Fish leather craftsmanship workshop held at Heilongjiang province, China. 

The Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT

Visit the following website to secure your ticket now:


Elisa Palomino’s research investigates the Sustainability and Crafts innovation of Fish Skin Leather in the luxury Industry and Higher Education. She has gained 25 years of experience working in the luxury fashion Industry and her practice-based research draws into her experience working with fish skin leather at John Galliano and Christian Dior.

The project aims to promote the use of sustainable fish leather and seeks to inspire, educate and inform designers, creators, and consumers about its beauty, quality, versatility and sustainability. The project will look at intelligent ways of using ocean food waste for the development of fashionable leather articles. The aim is to turn ocean waste into higher-value products.

The use of fishskin to create articles of clothing is a tradition shared by the Amur delta people with other Siberian and circumpolar peoples (Fitzhugh, 1988). Before synthetic fibres were invented, people clothed themselves with natural materials available in their surroundings such fishskin. (Jiao, 2012). There are several reasons for the disappearance of the craft. Overfishing and water pollution have caused fish stocks to drop and many aboriginals have turned to farming and tourism to make a living. (Lin, 2007). The shortage of raw materials and better access to textiles like cotton and silk have challenged the preservation of the fishskin craft. (Campbell, 2010).

The use of fishskin by aboriginal peoples has been recently assimilated as an innovative sustainable material for fashion due to their low environmental impact. Fish skins are sourced from the food industry, using waste, applying the principle of circular economy. They require no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides to produce them. (Jacobs, B. 2018)

This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration to study northern indigenous fishskin heritage building connections between anthropology, ethnography and environmental protection to address current global issues of fashion sustainability at a time when the changing Arctic environment and its wider impacts are receiving widespread attention. (Fitzhugh, 2008).

This project is centred on the research questions:

‘How can we protect sustainable development of cultural heritage connected with fishskin?’

‘How can we assist native youth, fashion students and educators in developing sustainable fishskin material by sharing traditional craft from Arctic indigenous people?

The project addresses gaps in knowledge in the fields of:

– Intangible cultural heritage preservation connected with fishskin.

– Sustainable design, developing environmentally responsible new processes for fishskin to advance material innovation.