Dr. Carmen Hijosa founded Ananas Anam to develop an alternative to animal-based leather. In the 1990s, she worked in the Philippines as a consultant in leather exports and became aware of the detrimental environmental impact of animal leathers. Inspired by the use of pineapple leaf fibers in textiles, she wanted to explore using this raw material to create nonwoven fabric. Her background in design and further study at the Royal College of Art in London led to the creation of Piñatex.
Piñatex has been on the market since 2016 and is available in five collections. Piñatex is used by hundreds of designers for clothing, footwear, and accessories in the fashion industry, as well as for upholstery in the home goods and automotive industry. See their website (https://www.ananas-anam.com/products/) for dozens of examples of products using Piñatex.
Piñatex is a leather-like composite material created from pineapple leaf fibers and polylactic acid in a patented process. The fibers are sourced from small farms in the Philippines, providing additional income to farmers and diverting waste that would otherwise be burned.
Piñatex is available in five collections with multiple finish and color options. The Original, Pluma, and Mineral collections are coated with a water-based PU resin to increase strength and durability. All pigments used are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. Original is available in 11 colors. The thinner, softer Pluma collection is available in 10 colors and is their most popular for use in the fashion industry.
The Mineral collection uses mineral pigments for 3 color options. To create the 6 color/texture options in the Metallic collection, a foil is heat pressed on to the base material. This collection is mainly used for apparel and accessory accents.
Piñatex Performance is their newest product, made by adding a stronger PU coating to the base material. Waterproof and available in 3 colors, this collection has the durability desired for upholstery in the home goods and automotive industries as well as for high performance fashion.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
After pineapple harvest, plant leaves are collected and fibers are machine extracted, washed, and then either sun or oven dried, depending on the season. Fibers are purified using the company’s patented enzymatic process that preserves fiber strength and quality without the use of harsh chemicals. The purified fiber is mixed with corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) to produce Piñafelt, a non-woven mesh that is the base of all Piñatex collections. These rolls of Piñafelt are sent to facilities in Europe for finishing.
Piñatex is made primarily from the by-product of pineapple harvest and offers significant advantages over both bovine and synthetic leathers in terms of sustainability. Ananas Anam prioritizes sustainability and ethical treatment of workers. The founder visits the pineapple farms in the Philippines that produce fibers for Piñatex to ensure high standards are maintained. All plant waste from fiber production is used as fertilizer or compost. The use of enzymes for fiber purification eliminates the need for harsh chemicals. Piñatex is free of all animal products, but the use of polyurethane as coating means that it is not biodegradable. One of the company’s future goals is to be able to separate the product for recycling of the fiber and disposal of non-recyclables.
Ananas Anam contracts for the manufacture of Piñatex with several long term partners. Because manufacturing does not require novel equipment production can be scaled rapidly with current partners and new contracts.
ACCESSORIES, CLOTHING, UPHOLSTERY, AUTOMOTIVE
Piñatex is used by hundreds of designers in fashion apparel and accessories, upholstery, and in automotive applications. Handbags and apparel are available from boutique designers, including Tara Gannon, founder and designer at Maniwala, who says: “On top of its innovation, durability, and luxurious feel, we choose Piñatex® because it’s a cruelty free by-product of the agricultural industry.”
Images from Ananas Anam.