The fashion industry has launched a new trending style.

Combining innovation and environmental values, a handful of companies have recently succeeded in introducing a range of products using eco-friendly leather. Veering away from the conventional animal hide, they use plant-based leather from pineapple leaves in their new fashion pieces.

Thanks to the brilliant mind of Dr. Carmen Hijosa, a scientist and designer, who discovered that the fibers of the pineapple leaves can actually make an excellent and sustainable alternative to animal hides. Following her visit to the Philippines a few decades ago, Hijosa devoted her time in studying the qualities of the leaves, and eventually discovered that its fibers are strong, it can even compete with that of animal leather.

Lightweight and breathable, the new kind of leather is also sustainable and a good alternative to animal leather and petroleum-based textiles. Thus, after presenting her discovery at the PhD graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London, Hijosa started manufacturing the pineapple-based leather. She named it Piñatex, a term she took from two words: piña, which means pineapple in Spanish, and tex for textile. Hijosa is determined at producing sustainable material for shoes, seat covers, bags, accessories, and other furnishings.

Finally, Piñatex has found its way to the forefront of the commercial world through the fashion industry.

Mercer Amsterdam, one of the first fashion companies to use the pineapple-based leather, recently introduced W3RD (pronounced “weird”), its new sneaker product in the luxury sector. This new vegan pineapple shoe is lined with a microfiber textile called OnSteam, which provides a sensation of real leather but is a hundred percent breathable for optimal comfort. W3RD was available for preorder in March on the company’s online store, while its retailing started in the latter part of April. According to a source at Mercer, W3RD is the result of a constant quest to produce something from fruits. Pim Dresden said that his company has tried mango and strawberry leather but without success. Until they heard of Piñatex.

Other European companies have also produced their own pineapple-based products. The Danish footwear brand, Nature Footwear, came up with its own vegan gold sneakers that are “durable and don’t cost the earth”. The shoes are now available at the company’s online store as well as instore at the Danish boutique, Thaysen Christensen. A post on the brand’s Instagram account says: “The wait is over. Our vegan collection made from pineapple leaf fibers is here. [One hundred percent] natural, sustainable, and cruelty-free.”

Likewise, the Italian fashion brand, Altiir, also launched its gold and silver vegan metallic biker jackets towards the end of 2018. The company’s Creative Director, Timothy Turner-Sutton said in a statement about their Piñatex-made jackets: “It’s become a matter of necessity as much as desire. We have to create sustainable products in ethical and cruelty-free ways if we are to continue to enjoy and be proud of the pieces we invest in.”

These European fashion companies are just few of those that believe in the eco-friendly and sustainable plant-based leather. With this new development in the fashion world, it’s not far from reality for Piñatex to create a niche in the leather industry.

Should the animal leather be threatened at this development?

Source of Piñatex raw material

Piñatex gets its raw material from the Philippines, where around 44,000 hectares of land are planted with pineapples. Dr. Hijosa has obtained an agreement with Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, to supply her with pineapple leaf fibers. Thus, instead of just throwing them in the field to rot after the fruits are harvested, the local pineapple farmers now decorticate the leaves to make the raw materials for Piñatex.