Jean-Jacques Houyou : Fish leather espadrilles

Jean-Jacques Houyou is a French shoe manufacturer with a range of women’s stack-heeled sandals for sale. Nothing fishy there but when you know these fashionable espadrilles are made from the skins of salmon trout, then this might cast a completely new line.

Available in seven colours they go on sale in France this summer, selling for about €120 (S$180) a pair. Matching the skins of the factory farmed fish is an exacting process with every pair of the handmade shoes unique. The luxury footgear is lined with goat skin and soled in cork. Jean-Jacques Houyou has previously made Japanese-style sandals with salmon skin at his small factory in Mauleon, the centre of France's espadrille industry.

Fish-skin boots have been worn for thousands of years by the Inuits and Icelanders boiled and ate their worn out fish skin footwear. Distance was based on the number of shoes it took to travel long distances. During World War II fish-skin shoes were common in Germany when cow leather was unavailable. More recently Manolo Blahnik used tilapia fish leather in his €800-a-pair eco sandal range.

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