These cream retro handbags above are made with a pineapple-based “leather” called Piñatex, manufactured from the leaves of a pineapple plant .
Carmen Hijosa, a Spanish leather goods designer, developed the tropical textile after working as a consultant in the Philippines. In search of an alternative for leather, she came across the Barong Tagalog, a formal garment normally worn by Filipino men and made with the fibers of pineapple leaves.
Its fabric was both fine and strong — a perfect combination for designing the perfect leather product. That’s when the idea for Piñatex was born.
Pineapple-based leather is difficult to make, but since it’s a by-product of existing pineapple harvests, its environmental impact is relatively low.
“This really means that in order to [make] Piñatex, a textile, we don’t have to use any land, water, pesticides [or] fertilizers,” Hijosa told Fast Co. “We are actually taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it, meaning that we’re giving it added value.”
And since the faux-leather textile is strikingly similar to the real thing, it gives any of its finished products a classically cool look without all the guilt.
Ananas Anam, Hijosa works with Filipino plantation farmers to extract the fibers from pineapple leaves, which were left on the floor to rot before after the fruit is harvested. These fibers are then sent to a textile factory to be mechanically and chemically fused together, similar to the way felt is made, and turned into a non-woven fabric.
The finished fabric is sold in bulk to other clothing or designer brands in four wardrobe-friendly colors: charcoal, natural (cream), brown and metallic gold.
While big brands like Puma and Camper have created prototypes of their own designs with the pineapple-based textile, international companies are already selling a variety of products including handbags, boots, flats and laptop carriers.