Jamil Walji, founder of JW Couture, is the lead designer of high end haute couture fish skin leather pieces. Jamil has been at the cutting edge of high fashion since 2011, and continue to design a new future with sustainable fish leather skin apparels.
The technology to make it, however, comes from Victoria Foods a company situated in northern Rift Valley of Kenya. The company works with roughly 300 fishermen from Lake Turkana who provide it with Nile Perch to make fish leather, and supply it to high-end brands like JW Couture who makes luxury clothes, shoes, belts and bags.
The fish skin is extracted from mature Nile Perch, and then is put in a tannery machine after its scales are removed and soaked for an hour. The banana extract is added to remove fish odour and salt to strengthen the fiber. It is then soaked for a further eight hours and then dried to give some of the finest qualities of fish leather.
Owing to the distinctive nature of the scales patterns of the fish, there is a uniqueness in the majority of the fashion products made from the same. Jamil, finds fish leather more soft and easy on the movement when it comes to clothing. Moreover, other leathers are heavy and tough and what Jamil noticed with fish skin leather, is its durability compared to other materials made from leather.
Jamil delved into fish leather after United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization who works with Victoria Foods challenged him to make garments made from fish leather as part of its Blue Economy Initiative in 2019.
Jamil, who is imaginative was inspired to create garments with fish leather, infusing the local fabric, ‘the leso’ together with the fish skin and the European materials to create high end haute couture pieces with a twist of his own interpretation.
And today, Jamil, designs clothing for women to make them feel fabulous and give them a sense of empowerment in every area and walks of life.
So far, Jamil, has incorporated fish leather in his seasonal collection which include: corsets, jackets, Ties and skirts with touches, and elements that reflect punk rock and goth dressing which are his personal style.
Moreover, Jamil started incorporating fish leather into his pieces to create a bit of a sustainability in his brand and support local markets. Jamil, says, the colours, texture and the feel of the leather drew his love to using them in his pieces owing to its uniqueness.
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