A few months ago during my Reykjavik trip, I came across a store window that displayed some of the most intriguing exotic leather accessories. I couldn't quite figure out what I was looking at - it definitely wasn't crocodile, ostrich or snakeskin. And the pattern of the material was rather unique as well. Would you be able to guess what the collars and cuffs (below) are made of?
Upon entering the boutique and on closer inspection, I had a sneaking suspicion, which was confirmed by the helpful shop owner who turned out to be the actual designer, Rakel Hafberg: Most of the bags and jewelry are in fact made of chicken leather. And if you thought the cuffs, collars, belts and capes had a unique shape, that's because these items in particular are actually made from the skin of chicken feet. Rakel explained that the idea actually came from her husband, and while she wasn't initially sure about using this particular leather, it seemed like a good option considering chicken skin ends up as discarded waste material. After experimenting with the production, she was pleased enough to use the chicken leather as the main material for most of her accessories, which also include beautiful tote bags.
Most people (including myself) may have considered chicken skin a wonderful thing when served crispy along with its meat on a dinner plate - but the idea of toting it around as an accessory may sound a little creepy. Rakel herself admitted to me that chicken feet leather in particular might not appeal to most... initially. I for one never thought it would be something I'd want to wrap around my neck. Yet surprisingly the pieces bear only a mild resemblance to the original source and everything is beautifully crafted. The bags look like regular exotic skin material with a soft and supple finishing that features a striking design of diagonal panels. Best of all, being deemed as waste, chicken leather is a lot more sustainable than other materials out there.
If chicken leather still doesn't strike your fancy, there's plenty more to choose from. Rakel's boutique is a treasure trove of other gems that includes clothing and a large range of other jewelry items. With a colorful backdrop provided by the floral wallpaper, most pieces are either displayed along the walls like pieces of art (along with actual paintings that are for sale) or neatly arranged on shelves. Other favorites included laser-cut butterfly necklaces and beaded baubles made of hand painted tagua nuts. While chicken leather could once again be found on hairbands, there were also a few feathered varieties to choose from.
I have to admit that I was so distracted by the wonders of chicken leather, I hardly paid attention to the clothing. I remembered seeing a few silk tops and gorgeous slouchy jackets, all of which complemented the statement accessories perfectly. Because Rakel herself oversees the small boutique, you do get a sense that everything is handpicked and individual. The setting is intimate and immediately welcoming. If you ever find yourself in Reykjavik, definitely drop by if you get the chance. A select range can also be purchased online and for any other info, you can always check out Rakel Hafberg's Facebook page or send her an email.
Another look at some of the items on display, including more handbags and simple slouchy clothes.
Address: Laugavegur 37, 101 Reykjavik
Opening Hrs: Mon-Fri: 10:00-18:00, Sat: 11:00-16:00