Do you have leather envy? It looks cool on other people, but you don’t want to purchase it because it’s an animal product? There are vegan versions of leather — pleather, anyone? — but those products are often made with petroleum, which causes a great deal of pollution when manufactured. The latest fashion news is that a new leather-like material is being extracted and fashioned from pineapple leaves!
The inventor of Piñatex™ (pineapple leather) is Dr. Carmen Hijosa, a leather expert who traveled to the Philippines to consult with the leather industry. She observed that workers and the environment were negatively impacted during the processing of leather and the leather was poor quality. She also noticed that pineapple leaves are flexible and strong, and their thin fibers are perfect for textile manufacturing. Hijosa spent seven years at the Royal College of Art in London experimenting with the pineapple leaves and earning her PhD.
Piñatex™ has no carbon footprint because it requires no additional land use, no water consumption, no pesticides, and no fertilizer. It is completely sustainable. The pineapple leaves would otherwise be disposed of as waste. Moreover, when the leaves are processed, “bio-mass” is produced and can be used as fertilizer for the pineapple fields. Piñatex™ is also biodegradable and can be composted. Conversely, animal leather is processed with formaldehyde, chrome, fertilizers, and other heavy metals. All are undesirable pollutants in wastewater.
Hijosa’s startup company, Ananas Anam, sells Piñatex™ to manufacturers of shoes, purses, furniture, car and airplane seats, and anything else traditionally made of leather. Piñatex™ is strong, versatile, breathable, soft, light and flexible, and it can be printed on, stitched and cut.
Piñatex™ is trying to produce enough pineapple leather to satisfy the demand for it. Puma and Camper have created prototypes for shoes, laptop cases, and handbags.
There’s much excitement about this cruelty-free and sustainable product. Hijosa was the recipient of London’s Royal College of Arts’ 2016 Arts Foundation award for Material Innovation. PETA UK also presented their 2015 Innovation Award to Hijosa during their annual Fashion Awards.
The price of leather increases as the leather alternative market grows. Compassion triumphs and the environment benefits. Why wear cow skin when you can be adorned in pineapple leaves?