Shoe brand Camper and fashion brand Ally Capellino have developed prototypes for Pinãtex creator Carmen Hijosa

New material company Ananas Anam has developed an innovative, natural and sustainable non-woven textile called Piñatex™, made from pineapple leaves fibres. Piñatex has evolved from seven years of R&D to create a new material that provides an animal-friendly alternative to leather.

The company was created by Dr Carmen Hijosa. Her journey began in Spain, but her career has taken her across the globe during the past 15 years. She worked in both the design and manufacture of leather goods for many years, before going to the Philippines to carry out further research into the development of products made from natural fibres. The breakthrough happened when she realised that she could make a non-woven textile, a fabric bonded together without knitting or weaving from the long fibres found in pineapple leaves.

London-based studio SmithMatthias has designed a bag and iPad case from Piñatex

Piñatex utilises waste taken from pineapple plantations in the Philippines, with local factories separating the strands and felting them together into a non-woven fabric that can be used for clothes, footwear or furniture. An estimated 40,000 tonnes of this pineapple waste is generated globally each year.

Around 480 leaves go into the creation of a single square metre of Piñatex, which weighs and costs less than a comparable amount of leather.

The fabric is breathable and flexible, and can be printed on and stitched. It’s also available to purchase on a roll, avoiding the wastage caused by irregularly shaped leather hides.

Fashion brand Ally Capellino created prototype products made from the fabric

Currently the material includes a non-biodegradable protective top layer for durability, although the company is working towards a natural alternative that would make the fabric fully biodegradable.

Belgian-Lebanese designer Mayya Saliba made a handbag from the fabric, which also featured in the graduate exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art 

Piñatex harnesses advanced technologies to create a totally sustainable high performance natural textile, and while discovering the possibilities of pineapple fibre and partnered with local weavers to experiment with transforming it into a mesh.

Piñatex not only creates a vibrant new industry for pineapple growing countries, but also provides new additional income for local farmers.

Local factories in the Philippines separate strands and felt them together into a non-woven fabric

Piñatex fibres are the by-product of the pineapple harvest: no extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides are required to produce them. The company also involves a patented pending technology that protects both the process and the finished material; no pineapples are therefore harmed in the making of Piñatex.

Hijosa, the founder of the company, showed prototypes by shoe brand Camper and fashion brand Ally Capellino in 2014 as part of a PhD graduate exhibition at the Royal College of Art. Moreover, she was the recipient of the Arts Foundation’s 2016 Award for Materials Innovation.

Pinãtex can be purchased on a roll, avoiding wastage caused by irregularly shaped leather hides