From piña coladas to piñatex leather

September 06, 2016
From piña coladas to piñatex leather

Image: From Stella McCartney's spring 2011 presentation. Image source.

From piña coladas to piñatex leather, how our favourite fruit just got a whole lot cooler.

There are so many issues involved with leather today. Of course — first and foremost — the harm of animals, but then also the fact that leather alternatives can be devastating for our environment too. This is part of the reason why the discussion surrounding leather and leather alternatives remains so nuanced. And why we are hanging out for the day when there will be an environmentally sustainable, animal friendly alternatives to what remains one of fashion’s most durable (and enduring) fabrics. So pardon our enthusiasm when we say that pineapple leather could just be the answer.

The humble fruit usually reserved for our poolside piña coladas is also the latest development in vegan textiles. Piñatex is the progressive new leather alternative that’s been developed by Carmen Hijosa, a Spanish designer and founder/CEO of socially-conscious textile company Ananas Anam. And suffice to say it’s as beautiful as it is promising. Originally inspired by the barong talong — a traditional Filipino shirt woven together with fibres of pineapple leaves — Piñatex is the result of five years worth of research between the UK and Spain. And, although it might still be a year or so before we see the first Piñatex products come to market, it seems the results will be well worth the wait.

Not only is this new fibre sustainable — it comes from the tropical fruit’s waste plant fibres and is both durable and biodegradable— but it also comes in cheaper than traditional leather. According to LifeGate, the pineapple leather is “about 23 euros per square metre versus 25-38 euros for the leather”. Importantly, Piñatex is a pineapple by-product, making it environmentally friendly in the sense that it doesn’t require additional land for production. “We are completely new,” Hijosa told The Guardian. “We are not replacing, we are an alternative. We are an alternative to leather and an alternative to petroleum-based textiles which is sustainable and has a strong sociological and ecological background”. Apparently, it takes the waste of about 16 pineapples to make one square metre of the fabric, which Hijosa hopes will offer a viable solution to an ongoing wastage problem. In an interview withWired magazine, the designer explains that “globally, you’ve got about 40,000 tonnes of pineapple waste a year which is either burnt or left to rot”. So the idea is that Piñatex will help to combat this issue.

Thank you to the Well Made Clothes for the editorial contribution!

Pineapple Leather