Piñatex fabric in white
|Inventor||Dr Carmen Hijosa|
Piñatex is a natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, Piñatex was developed by Dr Carmen Hijosa and first presented at the PhD graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art, London. Piñatex is manufactured and distributed by Dr Hijosa's company Ananas Anam Ltd.
Piñatex's development began when Dr Hijosa was working as consultant in the leather goods industry in the Philippines in the 1990s. She observed the leather produced there by was poor quality, environmentally unsustainable and bad for the people involved in the industry. Dr Hijosa was inspired by the barong tagalog, a traditional Philippine garment worn untucked over an undershirt and made of pineapple fibers. She then spent seven years developing the product through a PhD at the Royal College of Art in London, and joint collaborations with Bangor University in Wales, Northampton Leather Technology Center, Leitat Technological Centre in Spain, alongside NonWoven Philippines Inc. in Manila, and Bonditex S.A., a textile finishing company in Spain.
Piñatex is created by felting the long fibres from pineapple leaves together to create a non-woven substrate. The pineapple industry globally produces 40,000 tonnes of waste pineapple leaves each year, which are usually left to rot or are burned. Approximately 480 leaves (the waste from 16 pineapple plants) are needed to create 1 square metre of material. The material uses the long leaf fibres which are separated by the pineapple farmers for additional income, the leftover biomass from the process can be used as a fertiliser.
Because Piñatex is produced from a waste product it requires no additional land, water, pesticides or fertilizers. It also avoids the use of toxic chemicals and heavy metals used in animal leather production and has none of the wastage of leather caused by the shape of the animal's skin.
Piñatex is produced in a range of colours and finishes, including a textured surface and a metallic finish. It has been described as having a softer, more pliable, "leather-like" texture than other synthetic leathers. It can also be cut, stitched, embossed and embroidered for different design uses. Piñatex is vegan and unlike petroleum based synthetic leather, the base mesh is compostable.
In manufactured goods
Piñatex is breathable and flexible. It has been used in the manufacture of such products as bags, shoes, wallets, watch bands, and seat covers. The textile is being further developed for use in clothing. Products have been produced by designer Ally Capellino, LIAN & LIV, Time IV Change, ROMBAUT, and Nae; prototypes have been created by Puma and Camper. Bourgeois Boheme, a vegan footwear label, uses Piñatex in their sandals.
In 2016 Piñatex won the Arts Foundation UK award for Material Innovation and in 2015 Dr Hijosa was finalists of the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards. Piñatex is a PETA certified vegan fashion label.
Pineapple leather was highlighted on the first page of, and throughout, L.J.M. Owen's book, Egyptian Enigma. It was the featured fabric on a journal gifted to the main character, Dr. Elizabeth Pimms, by her sister Sam Pimms, an ardent vegetarian.
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