Leather is a fashion paradox. From shoes to outerwear, it’s a material that people would always want. Despite the fact that it’s made of animal skin and treated with harsh chemicals that end up in waterways, someone wearing a leather coat would be met with much less ferocity than someone wearing a fur coat. This still applies in a time when everyone is preoccupied with questions of sustainability.
Sustainable leather has been the focal point of Dr. Carmen Hijosa’s scientific career. Working as a consultant to leather companies in the Philippines, she was alarmed how harmful production was to everyone: animals, the environment, and the factory workers. Around the same time, she was fascinated with the employment of plant fibers in traditional Filipino clothing, notably in the national costume made with Pineapple fibers. It’s basically taking a byproduct, parts of the plant we do not consume, and asking what else can be made from it.
With this idea, she went back home to Europe and developed Piñatex, a vegan leather made from the Philippine Pineapple leaves. Available in black, white, brown, paprika red, laminated gold, and silver, they are slowly building their company: reaching out to designers and developing sustainable farming communities.
Paris-based Liselore Frowijn is one of the first fashion designers who used Piñatex leather. For her S/S18 collection, she used the laminated silver variant in to create metallic A-line dresses, turtleneck, as well as an accent fabric and pockets. Striking, ecological, and socially responsible, Piñatex is a great invention, one that I could not wait to see more of in the design industry.