As a professional in the fabric industry, I understand that there are different things to consider when choosing your fabric or textiles. Designers and manufacturers want to know that the quality, aesthetics and durability are on a par with their vision. Another question coming to the forefront, is that of sustainability. That is why innovations like pineapple leather are so exciting, in an industry hungry for responsible options.
What Is Pineapple Leather?
Pineapple leather is an ingenious invention that is produced from the leaves of the pineapple. Usually a byproduct of the harvest, these leaves are now being used to create a sustainable substitution for traditional leather.
While on a business trip to the Philippines, Carmen Hijosa had a revelation that changed her life and the fashion industry. A bit like my story, after seeing the impact that the leather industry was having on the environment and the employees making it, she decided to help inspire change. As it turned out, the change she sought came from a natural source, the pineapple. Thus Piñatex was born.
How It’s Made?
As I said earlier, this fabric is made from the leaves of pineapples. Usually these leaves are left out in the field after harvesting is completed and simply left to biodegrade. Now, participating farmers gather these leaves to extract the fibres. Read a little more on how they do this here. These fibres are then cut up, layered and put through industrial processes that result in this beautiful non-woven fabric.
This is similar to the production of the banana fabrics we sell in the Offset Warehouse shop. The stalks of the banana tree are processed into fabric after the fruit as been harvested for food. The difference with our textile is that it is turned into fibre and then woven into a fabric – as you would any other woven fabric. You can read a bit more about this production here. Both are fantastic, sustainable uses for byproducts of the food industry.
Properties and Uses
If you aren’t already excited about the idea of this new fabric, you should also note the versatility. This particular set of natural fibres can produce stunning results for a variety of uses; from handbags, to shoes, clothes and beyond.
If left untreated, the end product is a canvas-like texture and completely usable as a fabric. It can also be dyed or printed to expand into different textures, and even made it into a leathery material. You can also adjust the thickness of the material to match your needs. The material is very flexible, breathable and diverse. The sky is the limit on its many uses for the right imagination.
Sustainability and Environmental Impact
Now to the best part of this textile, the positive impacts on the environment. There are so many great things to say about the ecofriendly nature of Piñatex, but I will summarise a few of the most key elements here:
- This textile is made from a part of the pineapple. This means that while farmers are growing what we eat, they can also grow what we wear with no extra acreage required.
- Farmers also benefit from this because the biomass byproduct of Piñatex’s processing can be recycled into fertiliser. Producing even more revenue for farmers.
- The waste produced by conventional leather is approximately 25%. Pineapple leather boasts a small waste percentage of only 5%.
- Lastly, because this fabric is made from a byproduct of another plant, less water, and no additional pesticides are needed for its production.
This material is getting so much great feedback that even medical researchers are looking at this textile for its antibacterial properties. Can you imagine the revolutionary uses for this, such as bandages and other medical gear? No matter how you slice it, the idea that Carmen Hijosa is now making into a reality will benefit the fashion, farming and environmental industries for years to come.