Meeting with Ictyos
In 2019, a new player in sustainable fashion has made a remarkable appearance on the market by proposing an innovation that combines the traditional know-how of French tanning with an eco-responsible approach developed around three pillars in order to preserve biodiversity: the recycling of marine skins, no breeding for the skin and no endangered species.
Located in Lyon, the company is made up of three young chemical engineers eager to find alternatives to leather for the luxury goods of tomorrow.
Since the launch, they have been able to develop a virtuous circle with the agri-food industry for logistics that are concerned with offering rare and precious leathers with bewitching colours, initially from sushi preparations.
Today, Ictyos is recognised in the leather goods and watchmaking sectors for offering some of the finest and most resistant leathers in the world, which become more refined with time.
Meeting with Emmanuel Fourault for the leather of tomorrow.
- Why « Ictyos » ?
ICTYOS comes from the ancient Greek “ichtus” which means “fish”. ICTYOS aims to be a brand in its own right with an identity, collections and content that inspire our customers.
- How did the story start?
Benjamin, Gauthier and I met on the benches of a chemical engineering school. The question of eco-materials and responsible materials appeared to be an obvious one for the future in a world where we are creating more and more.
Eager to accompany the ecological evolution in the precious leather sector, we have embarked on three years of intense R&D on the production of ethical marine leathers.
Since 2019, we have been organising a virtuous logistics system with the French agri-food industry in order to transform the skins into genuine rare leathers with an exotic appearance. We have set up our own vegetable tanning manufacturing process. A unique recipe that allows us to obtain a hypoallergenic leather, with a woody smell that becomes more beautiful with time.
- What is a typical day like at Ictyos?
There is no such thing as a typical day in the startup! Every day we discover new projects, new ideas that are more and more challenging and creative.
Daily life can take place in our tannery in physical meetings or by video, such as during trade fairs or meetings with our clients from Roubaix to Lausanne via Besançon.
- How do you find new raw materials?
It’s a meticulous job to find new partners. We get a lot of calls from restaurateurs who have seen us in articles or videos and want to work with us. This is particularly the case for salmon skins.
For other skins, we carry out sourcing and then selection work according to our specifications. We mostly meet actors who are excited by the project to see their skins turned into precious leather.
5. What are the different stages in the production of marine leather?
The selection of hides
The river – preparing the hides for tanning
Retanning – feeding and dyeing the leather
Palising – softening the leather
Finishing – final appearance of the leather (shiny, satin, dry, fat, …)
6. How do you choose the colours?
The colours we offer from stock are carefully selected according to a universe built around the origin of the species (salmon, sturgeon, trout).
Of course, we can produce any colour on request. This service allows us to make each creation unique.
- Do you use natural dyes for your leather?
Our dyes are not vegetable. This is the quality choice today in order to offer colours that last over time.
However, we are actively working on the subject and we can now offer solutions such as digital printing with biodegradable pigments. We are also working on other solutions that we hope to unveil soon.
- You have recently started offering sturgeon leather! But what are the differences between trout and sturgeon leather?
Each leather has a unique grain. There are “large” scales on salmon leather, finer scales on trout leather and dots and small “butterflies” of cartilage on sturgeon leather. The composition of the skin, the thickness, the hand and the grain are different from one species to another and this is what makes each leather beautiful.
9. Are all fish skins feasible in a process like yours?
Theoretically, all skins can be considered. We select skins according to various internal criteria and according to our customers’ expectations (grain, size, history, origin, available volume, etc.).
- How do I care for sea leathers?
Marine leathers, although made from fish skin, are leathers. They can be cared for in the same way as conventional leathers.
Photo credits Van M: Marine Demoulin
Ictyos photo credits: Studio Picalbel