There’s finally a viable alternative to leather (and it’s made from pineapple leaves)

We know, we know, we were shocked too.

With fashion moving more rapidly toward a sustainable and ethical future, it’s a little surprising there’s never been much talk about leather. Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, and yet we still haven’t found a sustainable and viable alternative to the animal skin.

Sure we have PU leather, but lets be real, it’s neither pleasant to touch nor is it the most environmentally friendly option.

This is all about to change though, thanks to Dr. Carmen Hijosa and her creation, Piñatex.

Piñatex is made from bonded fibres taken from pineapple leaves. It has a similar appearance to canvas, can be dyed and treated to change its texture and thickness, and most importantly, is a viable and sustainable substitute for leather. 

No really. Despite still being in its early stages, it may not be too long until products made from Piñatex hit the market. The leather alternative has already been used by both Puma and Camper in the creation of sample shoes.

The creation of Piñatex is a relatively simple one. It begins when the pineapple leaf fibres are extracted, cut up and layered. They are then put through an industrial process to form the textile. The production creates a byproduct of biomass which can be used as a fertiliser and returned back to the farmers. 

To create one square metre of Piñatex, 480 pineapple leaves are needed. It may sound like a lot, but that’s only the leaves from 16 pineapples. The leaves that are usually left to rot on the ground once the pineapples are picked, may now hold the key to sustainable leather.

Not only is Piñatex cheaper than leather, it can be created with very little waste. “We have the advantage that our waste is about 5 per cent, whereas leather’s waste is about 25 per cent, so there is a price to pay for waste as well,” Carmen told The Guardian.

With interest in the leather already high; considering no extra land, water, fertiliser or pesticides are required to create the fabric; with production costs low; and considering the fact it will bring in more income to farmers in developing countries, the future of Piñatex is looking pretty bright.


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