I recently read a blog post by Joshua Katcher of The Discerning Brute that piqued my interest, particularly as it was about a product that we are developing here in the UK...
The holy grail for vegan fashion designers surely is to find the ultimate alternative to leather. A material that is at once aesthetically pleasing, strong, durable, ages well and can be used to create the appearance of the various animal skins that are currently used in fashion such as snake skin and supersoft lambskin (I know... it's sad even talking about babies' skins being used for handbags :(...).
The Royal College of Art think they are on to something and have been supporting research into an innovative, natural and sustainable non-woven textile called Piñatex™ for nearly four years.
Piñatex™... "is produced from the fibres of pineapple leaves which are a by-product of the pineapple harvest. Initial product work was undertaken in the Philippines and significant research & development is now being undertaken between the UK and Spain, specifically to enhance the finishing technology". http://www.rca.ac.uk/research-innovation/innovation/innovationrca-start-up-and-fellowship-projects/ananas-anam/pinatex/
Piñatex™ is a mass-produced sustainable and versatile textile that could offer vegan fashion designers another alternative other than PU and suedette to use in bags, shoes and other leather-effect goods. It is made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product of the pineapple harvest, created and developed by Dr Carmen Hijosa, social entrepreneur and founder of Ananas Anam Ltd after 5 years of thorough research and development. As a by-product it does not require any additional land, moreover the waste produced by Piñatex™ is one fifth that produced by leather production.
What I really like though is the idea that this material has stand-alone value not just as a replacement, or look-a-like... “We are completely new. We are not replacing, we are an alternative. We are an alternative to leather and an alternative to petroleum-based textiles which is sustainable and has a strong sociological and ecological background,”. (Hijosa)
Ethical, environmentally friendly, strong, durable and aesthetically pleasing. Piñatex™ could be used for sofas and car interiors in addition to handbags, shoes, belts and wallets... Oh to never have to lay eyes on another leather sofa.... Yes please!!