the leather with potential to help australia’s ecosystem

At simétrie, we are constantly scouting for sustainable materials to use in upcoming collections. Our research has led us to the infamous Cane Toad - introduced to Australia from South America in 1935 as a means of controlling pest beetles in the sugar cane industry [1]. Since their introduction, cane toads have expanded through Australia’s northern landscape, wreaking ecological havoc.

impact of Cane Toads on the Australian ecosystem:

The impact of Cane Toads on native wildlife has been found in recent studies to cause seriously high population declines [of >80%] in larger species that ingest the toad’s lethal poisoning in an attempt to eat it [2]. In Kakadu National Park, Cane Toads were linked to a marked decline in some native predators, especially northern quolls and large goannas [1].

cane toad distribution Australia
Ecological Society of Australia, 2017

Not all is lost when it comes to the destruction caused by these critters. Native predator species have been found to make a comeback, by adapting to the threat of Cane Toads and consuming them in ways that prevent poison ingestion [1]. The Government is also continuing to assist with funding for ground-control work, as well as research and development of sustainable control measures [1].

management through inclusion:

As Australia continues to control the impact of this pest through means of ethical eradication, the fashion industry can also play a role in using the skin of Cane Toads, that would otherwise be left to waste away.

Earlier in the year we were invited by Lia Tabrah from VERMIN to participate in her upcoming exhibition titled TOAD BUSTING. As COVID-19 hit, the exhibition was forced to close early, and is now available as an online exhibition/shop.

 

Luxury Island Toad Bag

Luxury Island Toad Bag, VERMIN

Leah's label VERMIN is all about using toad leather to make luxury goods, and through TOAD BUSTING she gave artists across different disciplines the opportunity to use the leather to create something.

We created our signature Thick Crescent Moon, scaled up 30%, with a mix of the toad leather and kangaroo leather which you can view and purchase here. You can also view a film from Simone where she discusses the use of toad leather on the TOAD BUSTING website.

Thick Crescent Moon Bag/Toad,

Thick Crescent Moon Bag / Dark Chocolate Toad, simétrie

 

the future of Cane Toad leather

Lia, in partnership with Perina Drummond, has plans to establish a leather tannery on Thursday Island [Perina's hometown] specifically to process cane toad leather. The sustainable and ethical sourcing of this leather indicates significant potential for this natural material to be used extensively in Australia’s fashion industry. The question is, would consumers buy it?

Would you wear Cane Toad leather? Leave your answers in the comments below.  
 
References:
[1] Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
[2] Ecological Society of Australia, 2017

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Comments

Jen

Hi,
What a great initiative. I love the idea of using a pest skin into a luxurious everyday item.

I want to say I’d use it but I don’t think I would if it was clearly identified as a toad. Much like I wouldn’t wear an item made from croc or snake skin. If it was a soft, durable leather that doesn’t look ghastly I most definitely would want to invest in one.
I hope that is helpful feedback.

Warmly
Jen

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