Inversa’s mission to build back the coral reefs
The massive coral system off the coast of Queensland, Australia, covers an area of 133,000 square miles and is a wonder of the natural world, but warming water temperatures and other factors that remove organic life have killed large portions of the Great Barrier Reef. Climate change is just one threat facing coral reefs. Boats, large yachts and cruise ships, regularly damage reefs with their anchors and chains, and chemical residues in the water also threaten the health of coral. Another reason why the coral reef is quickly dying is lionfish, a highly invasive species causing significant damage to the coral reef and biodiversity, particularly on the coast of Florida in the Atlantic waters.
Inversa, a company that initially launched as a food supplier for restaurants and has now expanded into leather production, is investing in producing a type of exotic leather made from lionfish, which aims at saving and building back the coral reefs.
The start-up has already launched partnerships with a number of brands, such as Teton Leather Company, for which it provides lionfish leather for clutches and watches, and P448, an Italian footwear brand that it has worked together with on sustainable leather shoes. Now, Inversa is hoping its story will resonate with more global brands in order to achieve its goal of building the coral reef back better by removing more of this bothersome species.
However, using lionfish to produce leather creates a huge dilemma as it takes us back to using animal-based materials. The process of using fish for leather is often considered to have originated from indigenous practices and, while the company doesn’t use traditional resources and chemicals in its process, it was the root for Inversa’s concept.
The animal, being a breed that has been released into the wild by humans, doesn’t have a natural predator, hence it is free to mate at a rapid speed and kill up to 79% of young marine life. Despite the uncertainty around the use of animal-based materials, the Inversa team have stuck to their message of only creating a positive change to the environment, while still recognising that it is a material that will not appeal to everyone, but is hoping it appeals to clients based on its ability to solve an increasingly worrisome problem.
Furthermore, Inversa has a net-zero production process from start to finish, which means that even the way they catch lionfish has close to zero carbon emissions. The company is also intentional in its tanning method, using less than 200 millilitres of water per skin, as well as its dying and finishing of the material. The final material is very thin and therefore extremely versatile and flexible, allowing for it to be utilised in many different applications. Inversa’s current clients mentioned that the material is not just perfect for clutches, bags and watches, but for many other fashion accessories too.
Because of lionfish’s tendency to prey on or compete with other species of fish, including commercially important breeds or ones that keep the reef clean, using this species to create a new material, goes beyond net-neutral and is instead net-positive.
Information sourced on fashionunited.uk and inverse.com
Featured image by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash
Image 1 by LI FEI on Unsplash
Image 2 by Walti Demut on Unsplash