In recent years, the fashion world has started producing more responsibly. The luxury industry and the consumer ready-to-wear brands are trying to provide an answer, especially in terms of alternatives to animal leather.
On April 11th, H&M revealed its new collections as part of the 8th edition of Conscious Exclusive, a line of clothing designed from sustainable materials. Besides a product from citrus fruit juice residues and nettle textile fiber, the Swedish giant presented, for the first time, a jacket made from Piñatex, a pineapple leather.
Robust and light, this fabric which folds without tearing, is a great success. This substitute for leather created from pineapple leaf fibers is attracting brands from all horizons. Fashion, furniture and leather goods, they were more than 400 last September to have succumbed, including Lancel and Hugo Boss.
“It is a booming market. Given that pineapple production creates 13 million tons of waste from leaves each year, if all of it could be used, Piñatex could replace half of the global leather market,” explains Mélanie Broyé-Engelkes, president of Ananas Anam, the factory that distributes Piñatex.
It is a Spanish designer of leather goods who created this new trend. Carmen Hijosa developed this tropical textile after working as a consultant in the Philippines. There, the researcher discovered the barong tagalog, a ceremonial dress worn by locals and made from the famous fabric. She founded the company Ananas Anam in 2011.
The pineapple leaf fibers are extracted, then sent to a Spanish textile factory where they undergo industrial and chemical treatments similar to those used in the preparation of felt. They are compressed and made to look like they are woven. 480 leaves, which is 16 pineapples, are necessary to produce a little more than 10 square feet of Piñatex. It is sold at 45 euros [50.6 USD], which is 20% less expensive than leather, and can be found in four shades: coal, natural (cream), brown or metallic.
On the other hand, Piñatex is not entirely ecological. Indeed, the textile is not yet biodegradable. Moreover, the production of pineapples, which are often treated with pesticides, causes a lot of damage in Costa Rica, for example.