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Nike Taps Pineapple Leather for Sustainable New Sneakers

Nike tapped into eco-minded materials to deliver fruity new footwear.

Joining brands like Chanel, H&M and Hugo Boss, the Oregon athletic giant turned to a niche but growing biomaterial to design the Happy Pineapple Collection. The seven-sneaker release incorporates Piñatex, which uses the fibers of pineapple leaves that are usually discarded, left to rot or burned after the fruit is harvested in the Philippines. It’s among the first to use a newly tweaked version of the material, it said, which now uses 95 percent renewable materials in addition to offering “enhanced performance.”

Nike’s use of a planet-friendly raw material plays into the growing movement toward inputs created with their environmental impact in mind. In fact, scientific advancements, tech breakthroughs, shifting consumer interests and regulatory trends are some of the forces fueling the next-gen materials market to an estimated $2.2 billion by 2026, according to the Material Innovation Initiative’s first-of-its-kind State of the Industry Report on future-forward materials.

Footwear giant Nike created a seven-sneaker collection using a newly tweaked version of Piñatex's pineapple-leaf leather.
Piñatex X Nike Air Max 95 Premium Pineapple Courtesy

For the Happy Pineapple collection, launched Thursday, Ananas Anam’s Piñatex is substituted for traditional animal-derived leather, putting a plant-based spin on seven sneakers across the Free Run Trail Premium, the Air Max 90, the Air Max 95, Air Force One and the Air-Zoom Type franchises, with a graphic of the tropical fruit embroidered onto each shoe’s tongue.

Nike’s latest impact report documented the brand’s struggles with increasing the usage of sustainable materials in footwear, though it made forward progress on the apparel side. The company actually took two percentage steps backward with its goal to pour more eco-friendly components into footwear, dipping from 31 percent to 29 percent over the past 60 months. The Piñatex drop signals Nike’s commitment to exploring the viability of new footwear materials that could reduce its impact on ecosystems.