Posted on 23/06/2018 by Eileen Schuch
Realtrue Ethical Luxury

“Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it last.”, once said Vivienne Westwood. Like this post if you agree!

The true luxury of our times is being able to pursue our passions, living extraordinary experiences, seeing the world… not having “things”. Unless, of course, they are beautiful objects that make sense. Realtrue is a brand that creates such accessories.

Born in Brazil, designed in Switzerland, and crafted in Italy… every item by this brand is unique. Why? Because of the material that it is made of: fish skin.

The skin of the fish, the Pirarucu, is a by-product that would else be left unused – because leathery and inedible – and a burden on the environment in Brazil. With a nose-to-tail approach to fishing, that part of the animal is not “thrown away”. Quite the contrary in fact. The beautiful skin is recycled and transformed into a luxurious, longlasting bag or purse.




REALTRUE: it’s fish!

Upcycling deluxe! From an Amazonian fishing by-product to sustainable high-end luxury goods. The Pirarucu is considered to be the biggest freshwater fish in the world and serves as the most important food source for the indigenous people of the Amazon basin. Its skin has long been unused, ultimately becoming a strain on the fragile environment. REALTRUE recognized the potential and now uses the sustainably prepared leather with its incomparable texture and sleekness for their luxurious bag creations and accessories. Every piece is sustainably produced with respect for its origins, all the while exuding an immense energy. Of course, the unique material paired with a straightforward and timeless design is captivating in itself but the real beauty lies in the cycle of its production and how it connects and supports all the people within. Luxury, that doesn’t just rely on beauty but demands and encourages a holistic approach.

The origin: Pirarucu, King of the Amazon

Many legends have been told of this ancient relative of the pike. One of them tells the tale of the freshwater giant being a cursed son of a village chieftain. The Tupi-Guarani, an indigenous people living in the South American Amazon Basin, call it Pirarucu or redfish. Translated, its Latin name Arapaima Gigas means gigantic redfish. Its name couldn’t be more fitting, with specimen of this neon red edged scaled giant reaching up to four and a half meters in length and a massive weight of up to 250 kilos. It is one of the biggest freshwater fish in the world and considered to be the king of the Amazon! 

The Pirarucu has been a staple food source of the native peoples since the dawn of time, its meat a real delicacy. The natives have hunted it with the most primitive of tools ensuring the survival of thousands of families. However, with the introduction of larger fishing equipment in the 70s such as harpoons, electricity, dynamite, and poison, Europeans hunted the red giant resulting in half of its population being decimated and ultimately threatening it to extinction. 

In 1999 the „Mamiraua“ Reserve, a sanctuary spanning one million hectares and a 24-hour speedboat ride from one end to the other, initiated a sustainable fishing program for the Pirarucu. Here, the Arapaimas are counted and only 30% of the population with a minimum length of 1.5 meters is allowed to be fished. Every fish that is caught is tagged and listed as a protected species. The remaining 70% is used for breeding thus guaranteeing their survival. Through the strictly controlled and limited closed season fishery of the Pirarucu enforced by the IBAMA (Brazilian Institue of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), the fish population has already quadrupled. Long live the king!

Realtrue Arapaima


Fish processing: when goods do good 

The inedible and leathery skin of the Pirarucu, having not been utilized for a long time, eventually contaminates the fragile environment as a waste product. The locals use solely the meat and throw the rest back in the water or waste. By incineration, poisonous gases are released. The beauty, uniqueness, and exclusivity of the skin was only realized a few years back but now through a sustainable and environmentally friendly process, the fabrication and usage of this newly discovered material is possible. 

The established tannery located near Rio de Janeiro, which exclusively acquires the certified skins from the Mamiraua area, pays the indigenous folk more than asking price. The vegetable tanning and dying of the skin are achieved entirely without any harmful chromium salts (metals) and under the protection of water resources. 100 days are needed to complete the process; from catching the Pirarucu to the finished, dyed leather used for production. 

Any Pirarucu skin used by REALTRUE, is certified skin from the Mamiraua nature reserve in Brazil. The colors and patterns of the leathers are developed and produced in close connection and agreement with the tanneries specifically for REALTRUE. 

The innovative application of the skins has created a positive effect on the indigenous people as well as the locals of the Amazonian region. For one, they receive an education, learning to better understand the connection between man and nature and their consequences on the environment. At the same time, the sale of the Pirarucu leather provides the local population with a new source of income. These earnings ensure their livelihood and make it no longer necessary for them to rely on chopping down their forests, thus creating a major financial alternative.

With every purchase of REALTRUE leather products the Amazon Basin population is supported, sustainable fishing is promoted, and the survival of the Pirarucu is guaranteed.

From a vision to the product: designed in Switzerland

“The designs are chosen to flatter the leather.” – Caroline Hirt of REALTRUE. True to its motto: Form follows material. The main focus of the leather accessories and bags’ form and stitching is always on how to optimally emphasize the exclusive material. Graphical, straightforward, and functional. The love of leather and a respectful handling of the skin leads to a sophisticated and clear uniform style, paying special attention to a timeless aesthetic and durability.

Silver and black are the reoccurring base colors within the collection and stand for a classic elegance. In addition, you can find pieces in special colors: A warm and shimmering orange, a brilliant red or a lush green are just examples of the current collection reflecting the renowned Brazilian vivacity and joie de vivre. All of the items are designed by REALTRUE which will be implemented specifically in the tannery. With names like “Belo Horizonte”, “Ipanema” and “Copacabana”, the origins of the products are apparent, whisking us away to cities, exotic destinations or heavenly beaches in Brazil.

When leather meets art: crafted in Italy

This material is new and unparalleled. Each skin is incomparable, making each bag exclusive. High-quality workmanship with love for detail gives the material the treatment that it deserves. The further processing of the tanned and dyed skins takes place in Italy. The limited small-scale series from REALTRUE is fabricated in high-end quality by a small family-owned company, who also sow the show collections for one of the most high-grade and well-known bag producer in the world. Luxury to the last stitch… 





  1. Pingback: 6 years coolbrandz, CHF 6000 worth of gifts – Thank You!

  2. J’aime beaucoup ce concept, ce genre d’initiative et en plus c’est beau. Merci pour m’avoir fait connaître ceci et sinon je croise les doigts, c’est-on jamais.
    De belles fêtes à coolbrandz Au plaisir de vous suivre en 2018

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