Making Shoes with Pineapple is Real: The Story of Piñatex

Pinatex pineapple leather material

Ah, pineapple. Slicing up this aromatic fruit at home tends to magically give you those “vacation vibe” feelings. Just the symbol of a pineapple stirs up feelings of sweet relaxation.

You can snack on it guilt-free. It’s a tasty addition to a cocktail. You can freeze and then blend it for a mouthwatering pineapple whip. We know it’s controversial to say, but you can toss a few chunks on your pizza, too, if you’re so inclined.

You can wear it.

Wait – what?

It’s true. Pineapple is being used as a sustainable alternative to leather. Developed by Dr. Carmen Hijosa, Piñatex is growing in popularity. It’s a promising possibility for any business that currently uses leather, including the fashion industry, furniture production, and car upholstery.   

The Story of Pinatex

In the 1990s, Dr. Hijosa was working as a leather industry consultant. During a trip to the Philippines, she saw the negative effect that local tanneries had on both the environment and the people involved. In addition to this, she observed that the leather itself was of poor quality.

After seeing the Barong Tagalog – a Philippine garment that utilizes plant fibers – Dr. Hijosa was inspired to create an alternative to leather. Motivated by the possibility of a textile that would provide a positive social and environmental impact, she began developing Piñatex.

This seven-year journey included pursuing a doctorate degree at the Royal College of Art in London. Through the college’s incubator program, Dr. Hijosa created Ananas Anam, the company that produces Piñatex.

How is it Made?

Pinatex pineapple material

Pinatex is made from the fibers of pineapple leaves. After these fibers are extracted, the leftover biomass is used as a fertilizer or biofuel, ensuring that no part of the plant is wasted.

Once the fibers are separated, they are degummed and processed into rolls of non-woven mesh. These rolls are then sent to Spain for a finishing process that creates the leather-like appearance. With zero animal products being used at any point during the production, Piñatex is a 100% vegan material.

Since Pinatex is a made from a byproduct of existing pineapple harvest, it requires no additional water, land, or other environmental resources. Instead of burning or throwing out the leaves, farming communities are now able to make additional income from them.

Is it Really Leather-Like?

Anyone who has shopped around for leather alternatives can attest to the fact that not all options are created equal. If you’ve been disappointed by a faux leather product before, rest assured that Pinatex offers something different.

Skeptics may be surprised to learn that renowned label Hugo Boss has jumped on board the Pinatex train. The fashion company is now selling stylish, Pinatex-crafted shoes for men. As noted on their website, it’s “footwear that makes a minimal imprint on the planet and offers a sleek BOSS look.”

To see a full list of the designers working with Pinatex, check out their products page.

Patricia Maroday

Hi I'm Patricia. Certified vegan lifestyle Coach. I’m here to help you eat more plants, discover ethical products, help the planet and feel amazing!

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Patricia Maroday

Hi I'm Patricia. Certified vegan lifestyle Coach. I’m here to help you eat more plants, discover ethical products, help the planet and feel amazing!