By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
What if we could replace animal leather with something made from pineapple bush waste? Well, it turns out we can do just that, thanks to Spanish designer Dr Carmen Hijosa. Dr Hijosa is the brains behind Piñatex, a new leather-like material that’s replacing not only cruel animal products, but also environmentally disastrous ‘vegan leathers’.
She had been working for years in the leather industry, and became keen to find a cruelty-free alternative to animal hide – the critical factor, though, was that it also had to be planet-friendly. On one particular business visit to the Philippines, she had a lightbulb moment when she learned that women in the Philippines wore traditional shirts made from the pineapple leaf fibres that were left over after harvesting the fruit. This sparked years of research and development, and finally, a new eco-friendly leather alternative was born. She called it Piñatex.
Since then, it’s been used by everyone from daring designers like (Philippine born) Ezra Santos, who stunned Dubai’s Fashion Forward event with his incredible gowns made from the stuff, to more practical shoe label Puma, who have most recently launched a line of Piñatex footwear.
Here, I’ve rounded up 10 of the best brands using Pinatex in their designs.
The brand: Svala is a vegan L.A. based fashion house that makes handbags using innovative, animal-friendly, PVC-free fabrics. The main textile used is Pinatex, but elements of cork, plant-based suede, organic cotton and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles is also incorporated into their work.
The Eva fold-over clutch is perfect for any occasion, be it a fancy gala or a casual night out with friends. Flat, lightweight and versatile, it is perfect to carry around all of your essentials.
2. Nae Vegan
The brand: Of all the brands using Pinatex, this is one of our favourites! Nae is the acronym for No Animal Exploitation, which is at the core of the philosophy of the ethically made Portuguese label. The vegan footwear brand focuses on using natural and ecological materials that can exalt both design and style.
Our pick: The Bare sneaker is a unisex design that’s comfy and solid. Perfect for wearing with jeans or shorts in summer, this design truly epitomises how Nae creates modern, inclusive products that are designed for everyday use, giving a touch of edge and personality to whoever wears them. We love how you can choose from black or gold in this style!
3. Hugo Boss
The brand: The famous German luxury label has a history that goes all the way back to 1924. However, despite being almost a century old, Hugo Boss keeps up with the times by introducing new sneakers that take bold steps towards more responsible design by using this innovative leather alternative.
Our pick: Their Limited Edition 100% vegan trainers in Piñatex pay exceptional attention to detail and are available in a range of naturally-dyed colours for both genders. They all feature lightweight recycled TPU soles and fasten with organic cotton laces, demonstrating how the entire shoe is eco-friendly.
The brand: Bourgeois Bohème is a London-based vegan footwear brand that was founded by a former podiatrist. The dedication to sustainable fashion is shown by the materials used by the brand, such as Bio-Polyoils (derived from grains and seeds), recycled rubber, and of course, Piñatex.
Our pick: The Annie Pinatex boots for women were first presents for Bourgeois Bohème’s SS17, but are still a hit. The shoes’ pineapple textile is soft but strong, light and breathable, with a conceptual look and feel that is beautified by an ageless design.
The brand: Po-Zu’s philosophy is to bring the exceptional performance of the natural world to footwear. All materials are carefully selected to offer comfort, warmth and durability and are sourced from some of the best available renewable sources. The pineapple fibres are the result of the harvest grown by farmers in the Philippines and require no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides to produce them.
Our pick: Po-Zu’s timeless feminine flats have been finely crafted in a range of sumptuous materials and are furnished with a slim-lined Foot-Mattress, which can be removed if you prefer a somewhat more barefoot shoe experience. The Ello Old gold Piñatex flat is a must-have for its simplicity of the style, which makes it a great match for any kind of outfit.
6. Eve and Adis
The brand: This accessories label hails from South Germany, and brings to life minimalist pieces with a touch of boho-chic. It was established in 2009 by Eva-Maria Scheyer and Adis Mataruga with the mission of using eco-friendly materials in every collection, including the wondrous Piñatex.
Our pick: The Eve + Adis backpack blends together pineapple fibre with hard-wearing canvas, resulting in a unique and timeless item that makes a stylish and functional travel companion. The adjustable straps give you the chance to adapt it according to your preferred length.
The brand: Ahimsa Collective is determined to makes a significant change in the world through fashion. This label, which produces luxury handbags and accessories, was created by a team of creatives focused on minimising the carbon footprint of fashion. This is done by upcycling textiles, using would-be waste materials, such as Ecoprene and Piñatex.
Our pick: If you want a piece in your closet that merges functionality with style, their gold Pinatex clutch will be just your cup of tea! The chain handle is optional, and can be used for a more casual daytime look.
The brand: This marvellous handbag brand from Spain could not have any other name but Maravillas Bags! The label, designed by Christina Bussmann in Palma de Mallorca, combines modern urban design with traditional craftsmanship.
Our pick: The Amsterdam.Africa Piñatex Satchel Bag brings together the joyfulness of two different continents through an explosion of polychrome nuances captured on a geometric shoulder bag that goes with just about any outfit.
The brand: Velvety is a vegan online store based in Melbourne that serves as a platform to emerging ethical brands that create cruelty free products. On this Australian portal you will find a wide variety of upcycled and organic fashion items that you will want to have.
Our pick: The Pinatex Bags by Camille are ethically made in France and are practical and fancy. This sporty, PETA approved shoulder bag boasts black and gold Piñatex, inside pockets, and a magnetic snap closure. Great for shopping or hauling around larger items like extra shoes or a laptop!
10. Grey Whale
The brand: This brand is the result of Tempy Osborne’s creativity. Tempy is an Irish artist and designer living in Brussels who makes lovely handbags and purses that will grace any kind of attire. Sophistication is instilled into urban minimalism within the items she makes, using this beautiful pineapple leather alternative.
Our pick: The collection is so gorgeous, it was hard to pick just one item! But I do adore this special 2 in 1 tote and a light crossbody bag. This unique design combines a wallet within a handbag, and its option strap gives you different ways to wear and use it.
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