What Is Pinatex aka Pineapple Leather?

Pinatex: Pineapple leather
Even pineapple can be used to make leather!

Probably the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about veganism is ditching meat and eating plant-based food.

However, veganism isn’t only a diet. It’s a lifestyle that aims to acknowledge animals as friends, not as food and fashion products. For this reason, many fabrics have been manufactured to be an alternative for animal-derived materials, and a famous example of these is pineapple leather or pinatex as it’s widely called.

While many pinatex items are starting to appear on the shelves of big fashion houses and small boutiques, people are still confused about this fabric. What is it? Where does it come from? And is it really the light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve all been waiting for? 

Continue reading to know more about pinatex, its uses, and the reason behind its rising popularity in the fashion industry. 

What is Pinatex?

Pinatex is a textile made of the fibers of pineapple leaves. Being waterproof and ultradurable, it gained popularity as an ethical and sustainable alternative to natural leather. It resembles cowhide in its soft and supple texture, but what makes it stand out is its versatility. 

The fabric accepts all kinds of dyes and can be produced in many forms. Its metallic finish and textured surface make it a good candidate for different designer bags and shoes. Like natural leather, it’s smooth to touch and can last a lifetime if you take good care of it. 

All these top-class qualities attracted many fashion designers’ interest. Although it’s still not as popular as we hope it would be, some brands like Puma, Camper Shoes, Hugo Boss, and Bourgeois Boheme have started using it in many of their production lines. Also, many brands are planning to integrate it into their products in the future.

If you’re curious about where you can find pinatex fabric, let us tell you can find it in everything, literally. The fabric is so flexible that it’s used in everything from watch straps and accessories to footwear, clothing, and upholstery. We won’t even be surprised at some point if we see pinatex jeans and mobile covers.

>> Read more: The ultimate guide to vegan leather.

How is Pinatex Made?

Pineapple Leather

That’s the best part about pinatex because it’s not only a material that’s safe to use for a long time but also safe to produce and manufacture.

The fabric is made from the waste left behind during the pineapple harvest. The process starts in the Philippines, where the discarded leaves are collected and undergo a process called decortication in which their fibrous cover is removed. 

The material is then degummed and passes by several industrial phases to become something that resembles non-woven mesh. After that, the mesh is shipped to Spain, where it undergoes the last stages of manufacturing to become a fabric that resembles leather in its form and texture.

The Story Behind Pinatex

The story behind this miraculous fabric is quite impressive. It started in the 1990s in the Philippines when Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the Spanish fashion designer and social entrepreneur, was working as a consultant in the leather goods industry. 

She was devastated by the amount of damage the leather industry was doing to the environment and the animals. She was also stunned by the number of animals killed annually for their hide. She thought that since there is an ever-growing demand for leather, there will be more animals to suffer, and there will never be enough leather for everyone anyway. 

But it’s not only the animals. She was shocked to find out that the chemicals used for tanning are damaging our ecosystem. Even the people who are working in the industry are suffering from the used non-sustainable processes. 

Dr. Hijosa believed that there has to be another alternative that has less impact on the environment. For this reason, she spent the seven following years developing a new alternative that is cruelty-free, sustainable, and ethical in every possible way.

Her endeavors were rewarded by a Ph.D. in textiles from the Royal College of Art in London when she finally came up with the idea of turning pineapple waste into pinatex fabric. Her intense research eventually led her to create Ananas Anam, which is the first company to produce pinatex. 

The material comes from natural origins and is biodegradable. It’s dried naturally in the sun and can be dyed with certified pigments instead of artificial toxic dyes. 

There are no raw materials required, and even the agricultural process demands less water and fertilizers. However, the best thing is that even the production process wastes are used as natural fertilizers and biofuel.

Now, Ananas Anam provides an animal-friendly alternative to leather that is certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and sold at half the price of leather. In short, Dr. Hijosa has made a dream come true.

Final Words

The sustainable fashion industry is finally making a move and it looks like pinatex is one of its highlights. While it’s still not widely-popular among fashion designers and it seems like it’ll take some time before it’s finally mass-produced, pinatex is sure a huge step towards a brighter future.

Thomas has been vegan for over 5 years and has decided to move to Costa Rica with his family to be closer to nature and live a more minimalistic life. He loves yummy vegan food and sustainable products.