WorkInFashion Presents: Pinatex®
By Yasmin Jones-Henry
I was asked the other day, why I write about ethical fashion. The answer was obvious, but only to those who understand what ethical fashion is about. The reason I built @WorkinFashion.me and populated it with articles, was for this very purpose. Although many are influenced by ‘fashion’ – some still do not understand or appreciate the fact that fashion serves a purpose. What is fashion for? To tackle this question – I began with my first article: Functionality vs The Aesthetic where I argued that fashion is an art form. I also presented the argument that fashion ultimately serves various functions, but it is primarily an extended form of self-expression and self-advertisement. The things you choose to wear, the items that you select and curate are a reflection of your inner tastes and preferences. So ask me again why I choose to write about ethical fashion.
Part of the derision that many eco-warriors and supporters of ethical fashion face – is rooted in the misunderstanding of what fashion represents in modern society. In Welcome to 2017 when I assessed the state of the fashion magazine industry I explained that fashion’s role at large has always been political. Fashion represents the beacon signalling to the masses what to do and when. If fashion is the arbitrator of what is deemed acceptable in our society then whatever is deemed ‘fashionable’ automatically forms the fabric of our culture. With this taken into consideration, the question of whether something has been ethically produced is not one that should be dismissed or overlooked.
‘Ethical’ by definition is derivative of ‘ethics’. The dictionary defines ethical as: ‘Relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these; Morally good or correct’ (Oxford Dictionary, 2017). So any discussion about ethics, is a discussion about the basis upon which our understanding of right and wrong, fairness and morality is built. Look out of the window. Open your newspapers, turn on the television. This is a conversation we need to have.
Greed perverted capitalism, enticing some to develop the myth that being ‘ethical’ and being ‘profitable’ were incompatible. Slavery as an entity has been used worldwide across various civilizations throughout history, and has sought validation from this myth. The British Empire, American capitalism, the emergence of sweatshops, are all fruits of this evil ideology. The truth behind economics suggests something very different. As I mentioned in the article ‘Fast Fashion: You Buy Cheap You By Twice’ if we look at Xenophon’s representation of the ideal state in his treatise Oikonomia (he’s the guy who coined the term and the study of economics), it becomes apparent that mutual benefit between the trader and consumer, lies not only at the heart of good business, but is also considered as being essential for a cohesive and successful society. So really, a conversation about ethical fashion is much greater than discussing whether something is organic and pesticide free.
Ethical fashion as a movement represents the counter revolution that has been mobilised to clean up the mess that global greed and unethical trade practices have left behind. Make no mistake, if you look at nature and its reliance upon seed and harvest for survival, nature is a capitalist. But in it’s natural state, capitalism is sustainable too. What is needed now is for the industry and the firms that support it – to ensure that their practices are ethical at all times. This means paying their staff, factory workers and farmers a proper wage that is reflective of the value of the product, as opposed to their desire to satiate the shareholders’ appetite for growing profits and lower production costs. Sustainable fashion also ensures that profit is not the only objective. A heightened awareness of the state of our planet and the need to take care of our shared home and resources, has forced many conglomerates to pivot towards investing in methods that are not only cost effective, but ensure that minimal damage is done to the environment in the production process.
So is it any wonder, that when I heard about the Pinatex® technology, felt its texture and its proximity to leather, that I almost fell off my chair when I was told this beautiful material is not a hide, but the product of pineapple leaves! You have all read WorkinFashion Presents…Taikka, so you know the long standing affection I have for their ethical luxury clutch bags that are made using this new technology. I love the texture of leather. I love how it looks, but what I love the most, is that with Pinatex®, your senses are still satisfied without an ounce of guilt. No animals are harmed or slaughtered in the process of manufacturing this material.
So, without further delay, ladies and gentleman allow me to introduce you to Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the founder of Ananas Anam, and innovator of the Pinatex® technology….
- What provoked you to develop Pinatex®?
The spark that led to the development of Piñatex® was seeing firsthand the ecological impact of mass leather production. My career was founded in upmarket leathergoods design, and from this I became an industry consultant. In the 1990s I was in the Philippines with the brief to ‘upgrade’ the leather product export market, which took me to a leather tannery. Becoming aware of the toxic reality of the tanning process, and the broader environmental impact of cattle farming, I decided there and then I could no longer work with this material and was determined to find a more sustainable alternative.
2. It is clear from my interactions with Riikka Juva (founder of Taikka bags) that you inspire others to join the Pinatex® revolution as a result of your genuine passion for creating sustainable and ethically produced products. What is your vision for Pinatex® in the future? Where would you like to see Ananas Anam in 10 years time?
Thank you – I would not have gotten to this point without passion for what I am doing, and I’m lucky to have a team that shares that passion. We are always working towards achieving the next steps in the vision, which at the moment is focused on upscaling production capacity to meet demand, developing new partnerships with farming communities and continued research and development to improve the finishing processes of the textile. In 10 years I would like Ananas Anam to be supplying sustainable, low-impact textiles to the mass market, reducing the need for the use of leather and synthetic textiles worldwide – the vision has always been to achieve a true global impact, which necessitates scale.
- If you could give one piece of advice to the next generation of fashion and design graduates who are about to make their mark on the industry, what would it be?
Thinking outside of the box, research and joint interdisciplinary collaboration is key. Solutions come from looking at issues from new angles. Have a strong vision, which is good for the world and its people. Think globally, be resilient and be prepared to work very hard. That is more than one – but all equally important! [End]
“Design is not just about product. Design is about responsibility” (Hijosa, Ananas-Anam, 2017). With Ananas-Anam, it is safe to say that aesthetic beauty has been achieved without an ounce of pain. What do I think about ethical fashion? The future is bright. The future is pineapples.
Visit www.ananas-anam.com for further information