These days, sustainability is on the minds of every industry—and this includes the production and consumption of fashion. Joining this advocacy is global fashion brand H&M, which will host a Conscious Exclusive event to be held at Metropolitan Museum of Manila tomorrow, April 3.
One of the known proponents of this cause, Piñatex founder Dr. Carmen Hijosa, will be part of a big discussion on sustainability in fashion. Hijosa is a leathergoods expert who was consulting on the Philippines leather export industry in the 1990s. This exposed her to the environmental impact of mass leather production and chemical tanning, which led to her drive to research a sustainable alternative.
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Inspired by the abundance of natural resources, including the use of plant fiber in traditional weaving such as the delicate Barong Tagalog garments, Hijosa sought to create a new, non-woven textile that could be commercially produced, provide positive social and economic impact and maintain a low environmental footprint throughout its life cycle.
This led to the discovery of Piñatex, a textile made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. The fiber is extracted in a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community. Hijosa’s company Ananas Anam developed the first automated decorticating machine to assist with this process, allowing farmers to utilize greater quantities of their waste leaves. Once the leaves have been stripped of fiber, the leftover biomass can be used as a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer or a biofuel, so nothing is wasted.
The fibers then get degummed and undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven mesh, which forms the base of Piñatex. The rolls of non-woven mesh are then transported to Spain for specialized finishing. This unique process is what gives Piñatex its leather-like appearance, creating a textile that is soft and flexible, yet very durable. The finished textile is distributed to designers directly by Ananas Anam, who use it as a sustainable alternative to leather in footwear and fashion accessories, clothing, interior furnishing, and automotive upholstery.
At the event, H&M will also give a preview of their Conscious Exclusive collection, introducing other sustainable materials like BLOOM Foam, which makes use of algae biomass, and Orange Fiber, sustainable silk-like fabrics made from citrus juice by-products.
Attendees to the event are encouraged to do their share in living out an eco-friendly lifestyle. A garment collecting box will be stationed at the event. For every bag of unwanted garments one turns in, from any brand and in any condition, one will receive two 15 percent discount vouchers for that day only.
Photographs from Piñatex's Official Website