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This post is also available in (Post também disponível em): Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

Náferson Cruz – From Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Exotic and sophisticated, the skin of the pirarucu – a giant Amazonian fish – has been used exponentially by the fashion industry in products such as boots, shoes, and handbags. The innovative raw material with low environmental impact and unique aesthetics caught the attention of Denise Gerassi, a specialist in accessories made of pirarucu leather.

Over the phone, the businesswoman of Italian descent talked to Cenarium Magazine about the rise and acceptance in the handbag market.

Seven years ago, Gerassi asked himself: what famous brand with a Brazilian concept would a woman like to have? The response inspired several ideas. But, it was with the project of the Legend of Vitória-Régia collection, that the ‘river fish’ line was created and, later, its remarkable pirarucu leather handbags originated.

“It was a challenge to look for a typical Brazilian concept to transform it into a national product with international characteristics”, commented the businesswoman.

Currently, “Company Denise Gerassi” has the greatest demand in the pirarucu leather bag trade, with 90% of sales. In the showcase there are 20 models exposed of the product, considering the opening of colors, the options reach 40 items. Offers come from customers in Japan, South Korea, Canada, the United States, and Portugal. The average ticket for a scholarship costs R$ 1,000.

“The bags and accessories are always inspired by Brazilian themes, genuine and based on rich handicraft processes that it develops with artisans and specialized cooperatives, located in different regions of the country”, he explains.

Gerassi points out that the brand has its own e-commerce where its parts can be purchased. However, its focus is to export to other countries and, for this, it has the support of Apex (Promotion and Export and Investment Agency), participating in major fairs in places like Colombia, Milan, Las Vegas, Paris, and also event at Casa Pau-Brasil in Lisbon.

Sustainable fisheries

In the past, the pirarucu was collected only for food and its skin became ecological waste that was discarded. After a decade of research carried out by Kaeru (a company that buys pirarucu skin to be reused), pirarucu is fished following the most rigorous practices of sustainable fishing standards required by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources ( Ibama) and international bodies such as Cities (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Brazil).

According to Denise Gerassi, their products are unique, exclusive models, one of the few in the country that have an Ibama certificate. She also points out that riverside communities in the Amazon are also benefited by the acquisitions of the pirarucu skin. “It is a product chain that generates jobs and income from those people who work in the management of Amazonian fish to those people who are in the factory”, added the businesswoman.

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