Over the past two weeks we've looked at apple and cactus "leather". We've seen that these two materials are made in similar ways: basically plant mush + polyurethane. Today we are looking at Piñatex.
So by now I'm guessing your train of thought goes something like this: "yeah, yeah, we get it: different fruit, same vegan leather..."
Well, my dears... NOT SO FAST!
You see, Piñatex - the original cool fruit leather - is a hard wearing material made almost entirely from pineapple leaf fibres.
How on earth do they create it? Well, pictures tell a thousand words. Let's have a look...
Piñatex is made from the leaves left over after pineapples have been harvested. If your pineapple harvesting knowledge is not up to date, let me refresh you:
To harvest a pineapple, you cut the fruit off from the plant, leaving a mass of leaves at the base. Normally these leaves are burnt, or thrown away - they are seen as worthless. But not for Piñatex: they collect the leaves, which are to become the basis of their eco-friendly material.
The next step in the process is "threshing" the leaves to reveal their long fibrous strands. These strands are washed and then hung out to dry under the sun.
The fibres are then combed & purified. They are then mechanically knitted into a kind of felt (adorably named Piñafelt) and then topped with a protective coloured coating, ready for companies like LUXTRA to purchase.
Combed, purified & felted.
Not only is Piñatex arguably the most sustainable leather alternative on the market, the material has an impressive positive social impact story that other material companies can only dream of.
The company pays Filipino pineapple farmers for their agro-waste and involves them in the subsequent processing, enabling the farmers to increase and diversify their income. Upcycling the leaves also helps with the farmland's waste management, unburdening them of what was previously seen as a waste product.
As a solo female founder, the cherry on top of working with Piñatex is that it's also a fellow female-founded and owned business. It's very refreshing to work with a company that is run by women - a rare jewel in the trillion dollar fashion industry.
I've met Dr Carmen Hijosa, the founder of Piñatex, on a few occasions, and I can tell you it's incredibly inspiring to listen to the way she speaks about creating an ever-more sustainable material.
Before we part, I'll leave you with a piece of trivia:
To make 1 square metre of Piñatex, you need the leaf waste of 16 pineapple plants which corresponds to about 480 leaves. Can you even imagine!?
I hope you've found that as fascinating as I do! Do drop me a line with any questions you may have, or any requests for future newsletter topics.
Wishing you a happy week ahead,