It’s sleek, it’s durable and it smells amazing. There’s much to love about leather but in this day and age, its animal origins are fast falling out of favour.
It comes as no surprise then that brands are looking for alternatives. Enter Piñatex, a sustainable leather alternative made of pineapples.
Yes, its the fruit that we’re talking about. While pursuing her PhD research at the Royal College of Art, Dr Carmen Hijosa developed a product and substitute to leather called the Piñatex. This innovative natural textile is made out of a pineapple’s leaves.
It all started when Hijosa was working in the Philippines where she discovered the barong tagalog — an embroidered formal shirt and commonly known as the national garment of the Philippines. In the Philippines the pineapple leaf fibres are used in the making of the traditional barong. After years of development, she finally established a sustainable system for the production of the textiles.
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The leather-like material is primarily produced from the wastage of pineapple leaves — a byproduct of the fruit industry. It is void of harmful chemicals in its manufacturing processes. Its fibres are compostable and vegan unlike other synthetic leathers in the market, thus, making it an ideal alternative.
The malleable and breathable textile is slowly gaining popularity. The versatility and use of this textile have extended to clothing, shoes, accessories and even for home furnishing. As the research and development arm progresses in Piñatex, the rest of the world can hope for more exciting products that would inspire our industry designers to innovate responsibly with their materials.
There seems to be no limit as to what the pineapple textile can replace. London-based vegan friendly watch company Votch unveiled their special range of watches last year. The straps are fully constructed in Piñatex straps and come only in black — which means it’s as versatile as it comes.
Ethical brand Wonder Women of the World hails from France and specialises in handmade accessories and bags. The team utilises eco-friendly materials including Piñatex to create geometrical textile jewellery pieces, cutting the leather into geometric shapes and then piecing it with jewellery hardware.
There truly are no limitations to what the Piñatex textile can do. It’s so durable it even makes a great leather alternative for furniture upholstery. Designer Drew Veloric leads the way, kitting out the classic Barcelona and coconut chair in the fabric, lending the normally sleek furnishings a rustic finish thanks to its natural wrinkles.