Chanel is flirting with vegan fashion.
The French luxury brand is offering for sale on its website a gold boater hat made from Piñatex, a faux leather derived from the fibers of the pineapple leaf.
First seen on its pre-fall 2019 runway, the $2,300 topper follows Chanel’s pledge to eliminate fur and exotic animal skins, including crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray, from its supply chain.
“We are continually reviewing our supply chains to ensure they meet our expectations of integrity and traceability,” a Chanel spokesperson said in a statement in December. “In this context, it is our experience that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins which match our ethical standards.”
Piñatex is the brainchild of Carmen Hijosa, a Spanish leather-industry veteran who found herself questioning the social and environmental impacts of mass leather production. She found an answer in the Philippine pineapple industry, which discards, leaves to rot, or burns thousands of tons of strong and flexible waste leaves every year.
Ananas Anam, the company Hijosa founded, employs roughly 480 leaves from 16 pineapple plants for every square meter of Piñatex. Layers of leaves are felted together to form a non-woven substrate, which can be dyed, printed or treated to create a texture similar to animal hide. Farmers who help with the processing receive additional income, and any leftover biomass from the process can be returned to the fields as fertilizer.
Chanel isn’t the first luxury company to adopt Piñatex. In 2018, Hugo Boss introduced a men’s sneaker derived from the material, which it colored with plant-based dyes and paired with a recycled TPU sole. The shoe, it said, was “designed to make a minimal impact on our planet, while also representing the impeccable design credentials that Boss Menswear is known for.”
Piñatex is also popping up in mainstream fashion. Earlier this year, H&M’s spring 2019 Conscious Exclusive collection incorporated the material into a silver jacket and a pair of beige and metallic cowboy boots.