Words by Bethanie Ashton
Carmen Hijosa co-founded Chesneau Leather Goods in Kilkenny in 1977 and worked as a director of design at the company for 15 years. She was then hired as a textile consultant for the World Bank who asked her to consult on the Philippine leather industry some time in the 1990s.
During her tenure, she was overcome by the detrimental impact of leather export and commercial tanning and she could not continue. Carmen was determined then to find an alternative to leather and while in the Philippines, she observed women utilizing plant matter to weave traditional Barong Tagalog garments. Carmen 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.
Launched in 2013, Piñatex® is today a Certified B Corporation and trademarked company that supplies an international market from automotive to fashion apparel and footwear, inspired by the principals of a Circular Economy. It serves as a lightweight durable alternative to leather without the use of harmful chemicals. The use of pineapple leaf fiber, an agricultural waste product, provides the opportunity to build a scalable commercial industry for developing farming communities, with minimal environmental impact.
This independent London designer creates her deconstructed collections by experimenting heavily with plant-based and byproduct materials like Piñatex, salmon leather, pineapple leaf and mango leather.
Indian-born British designer, Bav Tailor produces her luxury vegan collections in partnership with Italian workshops with an organic, harmonious approach to sustainable fashion. She uses science and technology to laser cut materials, 3D modeling and constructs from natural fibers.
After years as senior designer at Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Tory Burch, Mirco Scoccia branched out independently to develop a sustainable luxury leather goods brand. Using a variety of plant-based leather alternatives and in partnership with Italian engineers and makers, O2 Monde are handcrafted and shipped directly from Italy.
It’s back to the sunshine State, where Svala create luxury vegan handbags from plant-based sources such as Piñatex, elements of cork, plant-based suede, organic cotton and polyester (made from recycled plastic bottles). Originally from seaside Sydney and with an Icelandic lineage, designer Helga designs with clean, Scandinavian principals and her collections have been featured in Vogue, Forbes, Fashionista, Purist and the LA Times.
London brand, Altiir are distinctly utopian and influenced by 60s rock and its style icons such as Jagger, Hendrix and Bowie. Timothy Turner-Sutton and Lincoln Godwin create luxury jackets using Piñatex. Made in Italy by heritage artisan workshops who deliver buttoning and exquisite hardware to Tom Ford and coat linings to Saint Laurent. Our favorite is the Neo Classic Brown Jacket with, wait for it, a detachable Shearling Collar for the cooler months.