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Anna uses discarded salmon skins to create sustainable shoes

Date 4.08.2020

A student has created a splash in the fashion world after devising a sustainable footwear and accessories range partly made from salmon scraps from the fishmonger.

Anna Melegh, who has just completed her Footwear & Accessories degree at the University of Northampton, sourced salmon skins destined for the bin and set about using them to create leather.

She used the top-notch new tannery facilities at the University’s Institute for Creative Leather Technologies to turn the skins into usable leather. She was then all-set to start making her shoes and accessories for her final year collection, but the pandemic meant she was unable to begin production.

But, her concept designs were so impressive, they’ve been shortlisted for not one, but two, Graduate Fashion Foundation awards.

The awards recognise the very best work from graduating students across the UK, with Anna’s work being nominated for both the Footwear Award and the Accessories Award.

Anna said: “After collecting salmon waste from a fishmonger in Northampton, I set about experimenting turning it into leather. It was a real challenge as I wasn’t sure how to do it, because fish skin requires different circumstance then mammals.

“My first few attempts ended up being boiled, but eventually I managed to create finished salmon leather which was an amazing achievement for me.

“I loved working in the tannery, it’s unique to the University and gives students studying footwear and fashion the opportunity to make their own leather – you just can’t do that at other UK universities.”

Anna’s sustainable fashion collection is inspired by the insect world, and includes bee and moth shoes, and a woodlice bag. In addition to the salmon leather, the items also comprise ethically sourced rabbit fur and cowhide. The soles are made from wood and the labels from recycled polyester.

Anna's shortlisted designs.

Anna’s shortlisted designs.

Anna's shortlisted designs.

Anna’s shortlisted designs.

“It feels really good to be shortlisted, especially in two awards,” said Anna, who is originally from Budapest, Hungary. “I had to present my work to the judges at the beginning of July, which was a great experience, especially as I got some really good feedback from industry experts.”

She added: “I’d already created the soles, show lasts and leather, so they are waiting for me and I hope I will have the chance to make them at some point, soon.”

The winners of the Graduate Fashion Foundation awards will be announced in September.

The Institute of Creative Leather Technologies.

The tannery at the University of Northampton.

The tannery at the University of Northampton.