🍍Piñatex Pineapple Leather: The Fascinating Story of Transforming Waste into Fashion

Written by: Matt



Time to read 11 min

🍍Welcome to the world of Piñatex Pineapple Leather, a revolutionary plant-based vegan leather material that is reshaping the fashion industry with its unique attributes and sustainable approach. Piñatex is an innovative fabric which has successfully turned the concept of vegan leather from a dream into reality. It's a trailblazer in a new era of sustainable fashion, boasting qualities such as durability, versatility, and alluring aesthetics, akin to traditional leather. Yet, its distinctiveness lies not only in these characteristics but also in the unconventional raw material it employs - pineapple leaves. So leaf behind any reservations and come learn about this fantastic material.

Introduction to Piñatex: A New Kind of Leather

Who knew that pineapples could be so eco-friendly?

Pineapple leaves, often discarded after the harvest, play a pivotal role in the creation of Piñatex. They are transformed into a fibrous material that is both sheer and robust, making it an ideal alternative to conventional leather. While pineapple fibre on its own creates a light, stiff, and perfect material for sub-tropical climates, when crafted into Piñatex, it takes on a heavier duty form. This transformation gives rise to a material that can be tailored into a wide range of products, from bags and shoes to watch bands and seat covers, and even clothing.

Beyond its functional benefits, Piñatex offers significant environmental advantages due to its use of agricultural waste. In a world grappling with the harmful impacts of fashion industry waste, Piñatex stands out as a beacon of sustainability. The process of creating this unique fabric involves turning environmental trash into a valuable commodity, offering a way to manage waste while also producing a desirable product. By harnessing the potential of what was once considered waste, Piñatex contributes to a more circular economy where resources are reused rather than discarded.

Piñatex is more than just a new kind of plant-based vegan leather. It's a testament to the power of creative thinking and innovation in the face of environmental challenges. It's proof that sustainability and style do not have to be mutually exclusive, but can instead go hand in hand. And, most importantly, it's an invitation for us all to rethink our relationship with fashion and choose more sustainable alternatives.

The Creative Mind Behind Piñatex

Dr. Carmen Hijosa

Dr. Carmen Hijosa, Founder and Chief Creative & Innovation Officer for Ananas Anam Ltd,
David Stewart for Wired Magazine

The unique and sustainable fabric, Piñatex, didn't just sprout from the ground like the pineapples it's derived from. It was the fruit of a vision embraced by an innovative woman with an eye for fashion and a heart for the environment. That woman is Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the creative force behind Piñatex.

Born in Spain, Dr. Hijosa started her career as a fashion designer. She spent years spearheading the production of leather goods in the Philippines, but she soon realized the massive environmental toll this industry was taking. Traditional leather production involves toxic substances that harm factory workers and the environment. Synthetic alternatives, while less harmful to animals, were not much better due to their reliance on petroleum products. This realization sparked a desire in Hijosa to make a difference.

Armed with her insights from the fashion industry and a newfound passion for sustainability, Dr. Hijosa decided to undertake a journey that would revolutionize the world of vegan leather. She returned to school to pursue a Ph.D. in textiles at the Royal College of Art in London. Amid her studies, she discovered the potential of pineapple leaf fibers, a commonly discarded by-product of the fruit's harvest. Inspired by this overlooked resource, Dr. Hijosa dedicated her research to developing a process that could transform these fibers into a viable alternative to traditional animal leather.

After years of meticulous research, Dr. Hijosa successfully invented a method to convert pineapple leaves into a durable, flexible material perfect for fashion applications. She named this material Piñatex, a nod to "piña," the Spanish word for pineapple, and "tex," short for textiles. With Piñatex, Dr. Hijosa had achieved her goal: creating a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather.

Dr. Hijosa's journey from fashion designer to eco-friendly entrepreneur demonstrates the power of innovation and persistence. Her dedication has introduced a product that not only benefits the fashion industry but also contributes positively to the environment. Every piece of clothing or accessory made from Piñatex represents a small victory in the fight against environmental degradation, a testament to the impact one person can make with a clear vision and unwavering determination.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Hijosa's for being a true pioneer in the plant-based vegan leather , and bringing these sustainable vegan leather alternatives to life.

“Design is a connecting tool between people, economics and the environment - and out of this communion, understanding and respect new ideas and products with integrity can come about.”

- Dr Carmen Hijosa

The Making of Piñatex

Tha Manufacturing Process

A 7 step process


Unraveling the process behind the creation of Piñatex is an exciting journey that takes us into the heart of innovation and sustainability. It all begins with the humble pineapple leaf, a byproduct of the pineapple farming industry. Traditionally discarded or burned, these leaves found a new purpose when Dr. Carmen Hijosa discovered their potential in creating a sustainable alternative to traditional leather.


Pineapple leaves are a by-product of the existing pineapple harvest and are normally burnt. So, not only does the raw material require no extra land, water or pesticides but by not burning the waste significant CO2 emissions are saved.

Infographic showing how Pinatex is made
Ananas Anam

The initial step in the transformation of these leaves into vegan leather involves extracting cellulose fibers through a process known as decortication. This extraction is performed manually in the Philippines, where the majority of the world's pineapple farming takes place. The fibers are then washed and hung to dry, resulting in a non-woven substrate – the very foundation of Piñatex.

Piñatex's production journey doesn't stop there. These prepared fibers undergo a mechanical process, avoiding the use of harmful chemicals typically involved in leather production. A resin top coating is then applied, providing strength and durability to the material. This careful, eco-friendly process creates a robust material that not only mimics the aesthetic appeal of traditional leather but also has the ruggedness to match.

Cradle to Cradle approach

What sets Piñatex apart from many other materials is its closed-loop production system. Inspired by the Cradle to Cradle approach, every aspect of Piñatex's life cycle is designed to be environmentally efficient. After the decortication process, the leftover biomass from the pineapple leaves is converted into organic fertilizer. This fertilizer can then be used to enrich the soil for future pineapple crops, creating a sustainable loop that minimizes waste and maximizes utility.

The making of Piñatex is an inspiring tale of how innovation can transform waste into wonder. Its production process is a testament to the power of sustainable practices, offering a blueprint for other industries to follow. In the next section, we will delve deeper into the sustainability factor of Piñatex and its far-reaching implications for the environment and beyond.

Through waste valorisation, Ananas Anam reduces the amount of pineapple leaves being burnt which reduces CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere. Each linear meter of Piñatex prevents the equivalent of 12kg CO2 from being emitted.

Material composition and details

The composition of the Piñatex Pineapple Leather that Rahui uses in its products

Piñatex Performance material composition:

  • 46% PALF (Pineapple Leaf Fibre)
  • 36% PU (REACH compliant)
  • 12% PLA (Polylactic Acid – renewable corn starch based)

Piñatex Original material composition:

  • 72% PALF (Pineapple Leaf Fibre)
  • 18% PLA (Polylactic Acid – renewable corn starch based)
  • 5% Bio PU
  • 5% PU

All Piñatex materials are:

  • 100% animal free, PETA approved and registered by the Vegan Society
  • GOTS certified pigments
  • Sourced and manufactured in the Philippines, finished in Italy   
Rahui London Mini Clutch in Pineapple Leather
Rahui London - Mini Clutch - Pineapple Leather

The Sustainability Factor of Piñatex

As we journey through the world of Piñatex, one factor stands out prominently - its sustainability. This innovative material ushers in a new era of eco-friendly fashion with its remarkably biodegradable nature. Unlike traditional leather, which contributes to environmental degradation through its manufacturing process, Piñatex takes a different route.

Piñatex is fundamentally biodegradable, owing to its primary raw material—pineapple leaves. Pineapple fibers account for approximately 80% of the content of Piñatex, sourced from the leaves discarded after the fruit's harvest. This use of agricultural waste not only adds value to what would otherwise be burned, releasing harmful greenhouse gases, but also requires no extra environmental resources for its production

Piñatex Products and Their End of Life

In addition to its environmentally friendly production process, Piñatex also shines when it comes to the end life of its products. Unlike many synthetic materials that contribute massively to landfill waste, Piñatex products do not suffer the same fate. This is largely due to their biodegradability, which allows them to decompose naturally over time rather than persisting in the environment for years.

Furthermore, the manufacturing process of Piñatex ensures that there is minimal waste. Any remaining biomass from the extraction of fibers can be converted back into organic fertilizer, contributing to a closed-loop production system that is both efficient and sustainable 

Piñatex and Soil Quality Enhancement

Not only does Piñatex contribute positively to reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, but it also plays a role in enhancing soil quality. The left-over parts of Piñatex after product manufacture can be composted and returned to the soil, enriching it with nutrients. This, in turn, strengthens the soil quality for future pineapple crops, creating a virtuous cycle of sustainability.

In essence, Piñatex embodies the principles of a circular economy. It takes a waste product, adds value to it, and then ensures that any leftover materials are returned to the earth in a beneficial way. This thoughtful approach to product life cycle management is what sets Piñatex apart as a truly sustainable material.

Piñatex presents an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional leather through its use of agricultural waste, biodegradable nature, and contribution to soil enhancement. In the next section, we will explore the versatility and aesthetics of this fascinating material.

The Versatility and Aesthetics of Piñatex

Poised to transform the landscape of sustainable fashion

Not only does Piñatex boast an eco-friendly production process, it also shines in its versatility and aesthetic appeal. As a revolutionary material, Piñatex isn't confined to one color or shade. Instead, the fabric embraces a rainbow of hues, thanks to natural dyes that enrich its visual charm.

One of the intriguing aspects of Piñatex is its ability to borrow colors from the palette of nature. Using natural dyes, the fabric can be fashioned into just about any color imaginable - from earthy browns and vibrant yellows to calming blues. This adaptability to color variation opens up a world of possibilities for fashion designers, allowing them to experiment with different shades while still maintaining their commitment to sustainability.

Apart from its chromatic versatility, Piñatex also holds its ground in terms of durability and longevity. Much like traditional leather, Piñatex products are designed to withstand the test of time. However, care must be taken when handling these items. For instance, Piñatex garments should be air-dried and ironed at the lowest possible temperature to preserve their quality. Also, they should be stored away from chemical-based substances that could damage the fabric. These simple yet crucial measures ensure that the product retains its beauty and functionality over time.

The fascinating qualities of Piñatex don't stop at its colors and durability. It's equally remarkable how this innovative material has carved out a niche for itself in the fashion industry. From bags and shoes to clothes and accessories, Piñatex finds diverse applications in the creation of stylish, cruelty-free products. Companies worldwide are leveraging this sustainable material to craft items such as watch bands, seat covers, and even upholstery. The fabric's potential is not just limited to personal fashion but extends to home decor, furniture, and more.

As the fashion industry continues to evolve, the demand for ethical and sustainable alternatives like Piñatex is set to increase. With its captivating aesthetics, durability, and wide-ranging applications, Piñatex stands poised to transform the landscape of sustainable fashion. And as we look forward to a future where style meets sustainability, one thing is certain - Piñatex is here to stay.

Rahui London's Piñatex Collection

Piñatex is one of the most established plant based leather alternatives. Rahui has been working with Piñatex since the we founded the company and have always been impressed by its high performance and premium look and feel. Our original Pineapple Classic Collection is made from Piñatex and is complete with a Rahui's signature pineapple print lining.


The Future of Sustainable Fashion with Piñatex

As we have discovered throughout this article, Piñatex is not just a trend but rather a game-changer in the world of sustainable fashion. This innovative material, born from the creative mind of Dr. Carmen Hijosa, is made from pineapple leaves, a by-product of the existing fruit harvest. Piñatex’s production process is primarily mechanical and non-toxic, meaning it doesn’t strain natural resources or produce harmful waste. With its versatility, durability, and aesthetics, Piñatex is revolutionizing the fashion industry, offering an ethical and eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather.

The potential of Piñatex to transform the fashion industry is immense. The material's closed-loop production system minimizes waste and maximizes utility. Its biodegradable nature ensures that Piñatex products do not end up in landfills, unlike many other fashion items. Remarkably, remnants from its production can even be used to enrich soil quality for future pineapple crops. In essence, Piñatex embodies the principles of circularity and sustainability, which are increasingly becoming the cornerstones of the fashion industry.

Cutting edge sustainability focussed brands around the world  like Rahui London  are using this innovative material. Brands are beginning to explore and incorporate Piñatex into their product lines, signaling a shift towards more sustainable fashion choices.

The Choice is Yours

The transformation of the fashion industry cannot happen without the conscious participation of consumers like you. Your choices matters. Every time you choose a Piñatex product, you are voting for a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry. It's time to embrace materials like Piñatex that are kind to our planet and its inhabitants.

The future of sustainable fashion appears bright with the emergence of innovative materials like Piñatex. This pineapple leather is not only environmentally friendly but also versatile, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. By choosing Piñatex, we can all play a part in transforming the fashion industry into a more sustainable and ethical one. So next time you're on the lookout for a new bag why not consider a Rahui London Piñatex product? After all, fashion should not just be about looking good, but also doing good.

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