Exotic skins, while ostensibly rarer than plain ole leather, have become so common that there’s nothing all that unusual about them. Lizard sandals? Been there, done that. Snakeskin handbags? Yawn. Fish skin wallets? Er, hang on.
Yes, you read that correctly: A wallet made of fish skin (Nile perch, to be exact). Created by designer Sruli Recht, an Australian who worked for Alexander McQueen and is now based in Reykjavík, it’s an out of the ordinary product that arose from a very ordinary need: “I needed a wallet,” Recht shrugged when we asked him what made him think of making a fish skin wallet. “And it hadn’t been done before.”
Don’t let Recht’s nonchalance fool you; his Whalets are pretty spectacular. The fish skin is uniquely textured and colored, and his holistic fabrication technique is an intriguing mix of meticulous hand work and hi-tech wizardry. Each Whalet is made from a single laser-cut skin, then folded by hand and fixed into place with black oxidized rivets. Though they were designed for men, they work for women, too.
Even the packaging is unusual: Each Whalet comes in a pop-up box—in Recht’s words, as though it were “in the mouth of a Leviathan rising from the waves.”
And then there are the colors. In a cheeky display of black humor, Recht’s given each shade the name of a skin condition or the cause of one. Psoriasis is a light gray/white, necrosis is black, frostbite is light blue and ultraviolet is a shiny pink. But then, if you’re confident enough to carry a fish skin wallet, you’re not going to let a little thing like psoriasis stop you.
Photos by Marino Thorlacius