The little pineapples that could

It was actually my brother who told me for the first time about the stuff. “have you heard about that new clothing material that’s made from pineapples?” he asked, on the other side on the phone. What? No, I’d never heard of it. “what do you mean, clothing material made from pineapples?” He wouldn’t know; he’d read about it somewhere – maybe browsing, half awake, some magazine, waiting to enter the dentist’s office, maybe on one of those websites where we don’t spend more than half a minute before drifting our attention elsewhere (It turned out, by a stretch of anamnesis, that he first saw it as a short documentary on television).

The idea of pieces of clothing being made from fruit seemed so incredible that I had to learn more about this surreal material. And, as always, reality turned out to be more outlandish than any fictional ideas I might have had about that mysterious new cloth my brother told me about.

Here’s its (very brief) story: a little more than twenty years ago, Carmen Hijosa, a leather goods expert, decided to create an alternative to the highly wasteful, resource-intensive leather industry. After seven years of R&D, a non-polluting, all-natural , sustainable method was created so that pineapple leaf fibers gathered by Philippine farmers wouldn’t go to waste. To sum it up, Piñatex basically consists of chemical-free, treated pineapple leaf fibers.

We’ve been working with Piñatex for almost three years now and can proudly say we were one of its first costumers. The material itself is an amazing thing on several levels: it’s biodegradable, has an almost non-existent impact on the environment, it’s sustainable, vegan, and socially responsible as well. Farmers gather the leaves that would otherwise go to waste from the pineapples they grow, so there’s no impact on the environment, and it provides them with a new source of income, strengthening the local farming communities. It’s also highly durable, resistant and water-proof.

At Ina Koelln we are always trying to find and incorporate the best, newest materials that fit our company’s vision: high quality but also organic, naturally harvested, chemical-free, with the least impact on the environment possible. And that – if possible – create a positive impact on the local communities where they’re produced. These materials aren’t some unicorn hidden in the depths of unexplored forests or rare, exclusive things that you have to work hard to find; quite the contrary, they’re just waiting to be used and shown to the world. Piñatex is one of those materials.

Piñatex is a curious thing. It’s very durable, thin – but not too much – and highly flexible. Its texture resembles that of a lightly crumpled piece of paper, but it’s smooth to the touch; light spills on its tiny, multiple ridges, but the Piñatex itself doesn’t shine much – at least not in black, the color we chose to first work with (because, really, how can you mess up black?) The end result is unlike anything you’ve ever seen; more importantly, it looks good. Piñatex is just waiting to take over the world by storm – or, rather, by pineapples. One vegan step, or clutch, or duffel bag at a time.