Sustainable fashion is continuing to prove that it is anything but a fleeting trend.
With more and more fashion brands placing a stronger focus on being ethical and sustainable with their creations, there have been some major innovations on making the world of fashion a better place.
But perhaps the most groundbreaking discovery so far has been the invention of an alternative to leather. While there are plenty of faux leather options out there, most of those pleather and 'leather look' pieces are made using PVC which, unsurprisingly, is anything but sustainable.
Thankfully, there is a sustainable option: Piñatex.
Piñatex was discovered by Dr Carmen Hijosa, a leather goods expert, when she learned of the environmental impact mass leather production can cause. Inspired by the use of plant fibres used in Barong Tagalog woven garments, Carmen sought to create a new, non-woven textile that could be produced commercially whilst also maintaining a low environmental footprint.
A process that began in the 1990s, Carmen has now discovered and developed a viable leather alternative which is made from pineapple leaves. According to the company website, Piñatex is made through a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by a farming community. Not only does Piñatex provide a sustainable alternative to leather but it also reduces waste as pineapple leaves are notorious for becoming scraps. Also, once the fibre has been extracted, the leftover biomass is used as a nutrient-rich natural fertiliser or a biofuel, so nothing goes to waste.
To get its leather-like appearance, the fibres are then 'degummed' and processed to become a non-woven mesh, before being shipped to Spain for specialised finishing.
With the meat industry surpassing the oil industry as “the world’s biggest polluter,” it’s clear that an environmental ideal scenario would be for everyone to cut down or completely back on both meat and leather.
But a boycott seems unlikely, even considering that there was a 600 per cent increase in people identifying as “vegan” from 2014 to 2017.
With this in mind, those comfortable with wearing leather can argue for the sustainability of wearing cowhide for as long as it is a byproduct of the meat industry. Calfskin and lambskin, however, do not fit into this argument and should be avoided at all cost.
But there’s also a strong case for those wanting to boycott the entire industry altogether and turn to only vegan alternatives.
For those uncomfortable with wearing leather, more natural alternatives such as Piñatex seem to be the most sustainable alternative until there are some significant advances making lab-grown leather affordable.
Main image by @jorjasmith_