The cane toad (Bufo marinus), a native of South America but introduced and now unwanted in such far flung places as Hawaii and Australia, has found a lover in Polish fashion designer Monika Jarosz, who has been creating high end fashion items from the amphibian's skin for several years.
Paris fashion house Kobja cane toad accessories.
According to AFP, Jarosz, founder of the Kobja fashion house in Paris, became enamored with amphibians when a friend gave her a stuffed frog from New Zealand that first repulsed her but eventually fascinated her. When she received the stuff frog, she wanted to figure out a way to incorporate the frog's skin into her designs. Yet in France, whose population is known for consuming large amounts of frog legs, she couldn't find a frog to base her designs on. She heard about the cane toads in Australia and other South Pacific islands where they were first considered saviors but now considered pests and focused on them. Hearing that local governments where the toad is invasive had active eradication programs for these amphibians, she set out to repurpose them into high fashion items.
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Jarosz worked with an Australian taxidermist to perfect the texture of the cane toad's skin. The skins are then sent to France where they are tanned, dried and colored before they are cut and stitched onto fashion accessories such as lamb or goatskin handbags and coin purses, often right next to semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystals. Jarosz' cane toad inspired fashion accessories range in price from 220 euros for a small purse up to 1200 euros for a handbag. They can be found in luxury stores in the most fashion conscious cities, including Tokyo, Beijing, Berlin and Paris.