63-Year-Old Designer Creates Faux Leather From Pineapple Leaves

As the fashion industry explores sustainable alternatives to current environmentally harmful materials and processes, it can be challenging to find resources that are both eco-friendly and economic. In response to this problem, Ananas Anam has developed Piñatex, a versatile vegan alternative to leather. Pineapple leaves, which are typically considered waste, offer useful fibers to create this material. As a crop by-product, there is no additional water or land needed to make the material. 

This plant-based alternative promises to not only help lessen the demand for natural resources, but it also offers a premium fabric to work with across a range of markets including fashion, cars, and furniture. The material is made possible through advanced technology and affords more income for pineapple farmers who previously were not able to derive value from this part of their harvest. 

The idea for this revolutionary solution came from Dr. Carmen Hijosa. The designer worked with leather for many years and was concerned about the environmental impact. As Hijosa began thinking about a more sustainable alternative, she realized she could bond together pineapple leaves to make something new. From this idea, she founded her company, Ananas Anam to develop, create and sell Piñatex.   

Anam focuses on creating a viable material that can reduce the demand for oil based textiles and leather. With so many uses for this fabric, it seems like they may be onto something. The material can work for shoes, bags, car seats, upholstery and pretty much anything that utilizes leather.

The reason Piñatex can adapt so well because it was designed to be durable, breathable, soft and light. These attributes allow designers to use it like a standard fabric which can be printed on and have a variety of different finishes. Perhaps the best aspect of the material is that it can be mass-produced, making it an affordable alternative to leather and other pricey materials.

The process for manufacturing Piñatex also aligns with the company’s environmentally responsible mission. From start to finish, the company focuses on a closed loop model and carefully considers the entire lifecycle of the product. Anam sources their pineapple leaves from farms in the Philippines. The locals then extract the fibers at the plantations. Unlike making leather, processing the pineapple material does not produce harmful toxins.  

Since the company began, it has caught the attention of the fashion industry and was certified a “Vegan Fashion Label” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). World renown designers like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood have also become intrigued by this unique faux leather.

By taking the by-product of the pineapple, they are not only able to make a sustainable new material, but the process of extracting the fibers creates Bio-mass, which is another eco-friendly by-product. This organic fertilizer creates yet another source of natural income for the farming community. Who knew pineapples had so much to offer?

As the product gains attention more and more attention, Anam continues to grow and focus on their social responsibility and low environmental impact goals. As demand for their fruity materials grows, they continue to help farming communities in developing countries while offering a vegan and sustainable alternative to the world.  

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