Leather alternatives don’t need to be toxic PVC. But what if cork, paper or rubber look and feel too outlandish to you? Then pineapples may be up your valley. I’m not kidding.
I first came across Piñatex® – a sustainable, eco-friendly leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibre – a few years ago. First it was an intriguing novelty fibre/ fabric somebody mentioned. A little later, at the Greenshowroom (I believe) I finally spotted it in person: soft, durable, leather-like; with a crinkled, matte surface.
And since the BEAUTYCALYPSE Eco-Fair Fashion and Fine Jewellery“department” is not ony about outfits and shopping tips but also about knowledge and innovation, I hope to entertain you today with images and the background story of this innovative material. I promise to make it relevant to you, whether you’re an interested consumer, a fashion creator or an ethical company founder!
How to Wear a Pineapple?
Piñatex®, the Fair Fashion Fibre
When I hear that leather is a byproduct, I shudder.
When you hear that Piñatex® is a byproduct of agriculture that already is in place, you can’t but nod.
The good thing about the fiber is that it’s gained from what’s left unused: pineapple leaf fibre. The fibre is processed, in line with the Cradle-to-Cradle® philosophy, using a minimal amount of water, no harmful chemicals and – vegans, listen up – no animal “(by)product” whatsoever. The fibre is created in the Philippines, providing an additional income source for the farmers; the finishing is done in Spain, the homeland of Piñatex® creator Dr Carmen Hijosa, an expert in leather goods manufacturing.
When a consulting project took Hijosa to the Philippines in the 1990s, the devastating impact of mass leather production came as a shocking revelation. The vision to create an alternative that would not be harmful to people and the environment started the pineapple fibre development. After seven years of research, Piñatex® was finally available – complete with a scalable value chain built from scratch, Peta and Cradle2Cradle certifications and dozens of international designers excited to work with the ethical novelty material.
What I think is particularly fascinating for consumers is that the highly durable, flexible fiber is lightweight and breathable.
For creators, Piñatex®, available in a variety of colours and in two finishes (matte and metallic gold/ silver), offers a variety of uses from clothing and accessories to upholstery and interior design.
How Clean is Piñatex®?
Upon request, I was told that the fabric is made of 80% pineapple leaf and 20% PLA, obtained sustainably. PLA is a polymer obtained from renewable sources. It can be recycled and is biodegradable in industrial composting plants.
Sometimes the greenest product has to accept a few “conventional” parts or raw materials because of performance issues or due to consumer expectiations – and this one’s no exception. However, no hazardous and bio-accumulative toxins such as Arsenic, Chromium, Mercury, and no PVC (a frequent and super toxic addition to many “vegan leather alternatives”!) are used, as defined in the Cradle-to-Cradle® banned chemicals.
Will all that said, I can’t wait to see more of the fantastic pineapple fibre designs and products – and I hope that Piñatex® will grow bigger and even greener over time!