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How it's Made: How Pinatex Turns Pineapples into a Sustainable Leather Alternative

Posted by on 10/4/2017 to Community
Pinatex - HFS Collective
Classic belt bag in Pinatex,

I don't think we have ever been as excited to launch a collection as we are now with the launch of our new Piñatex Collection. Maybe that's because we have waited almost two years to get our hands on this innovative material that is still being made in relatively small runs across the pond-- or it could be because we are one of the very first American brands to be using it--or maybe because it is the most sustainable material we have ever used. So, what exactly is Piñatex? and what's all the buzz about? 

pinatex tote

Piñatex™ was created by Dr. Carmen Hijosa, founder of London based startup Ananas Anam, which manufactures it. She worked in both the design and manufacture of leather goods for many years before she began research into the development of products made from natural fibres. She wanted to bridge the gap between leather and petroleum based leather alternatives with the goal of developing textiles using only processes that enhance the well-being of the planet through the entire life cycle of the products.

Pineapples harvested from the Labo Multi Purpose Farming Collaborative, the farming community which partners with Ananas Anam on the production of pineapple leaves to make Pinatex. Photo: Ananas Anam

Farmers cutting pineapple leaves in Labo region of the Philippines. Photo: Ananas Anam 

A big breakthrough came when she realized that she could make a non-woven textile (a fabric bonded together without knitting or weaving) from the long fibres found in pineapple leaves. The culmination of her work resulted in the creation of Piñatex, a unique natural and sustainable textile made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product from the pineapple harvest.

The process of decortication, where the fibers are extracted from the leaves. Photo: Ananas Anam

Ananas Anam
The fibers are then hung to dry before they are turned into a non-woven textile. Photo: Ananas Anam

The fibres that make Piñatex™ come from pineapple leaves from the Philippines. The fibres are extracted from the leaves during a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community. Furthermore, the by-product of decortication is bio-mass, which can be further converted into organic fertilizer or bio-gas. Both the extraction of the fibers and the consequent bio-mass will bring added revenue stream to the farming communities. The fibres then undergo an industrial process to become a nonwoven textile, which is the base of the material. The final step is finishing the fabric which is done by a company in Spain before being shipped all over the world.

Pinatex Belt bag
Bum Bag in Pinatex,

pinatex tote
Crossbody Tote in Pinatex,

Classic belt bag in Pinatex,

We are so excited about our new Piñatex Collection, not only because we are using this new, innovative, sustainable material, but also because it is the first time we are launching products in addition to the belt bag. Our new collection includes two belt bags, of course, but also a crossbody commuter or overnight tote and a small, matching zippered wallet. 

For this collection, we combined the rugged, edgy look of the Piñatex with our soft, elegant, eco-suede (made from a mixture of recycled plastic bottles and post-industrial recycled polyester) to create a sophisticated, unique collection that goes with just about anything. Which style is your favorite?