Pineapples – but not as we know them

Posted on Sep 20, 2017
Pineapples – but not as we know them


 Looking for inspiration.

Quite often at the start of a new product development project we start by looking at other sectors. In the past, we’ve drawn inspiration for petfood products from baby foods. So this week we had a look at the fashion industry thanks to London Fashion Week. In particular, here are some innovations that caught our eye at Sustainable Fashion London, which took place on Monday. We’ve picked out three examples;

  • one new product,
  • one new business model and
  • one new way of tackling a long-standing problem.

They’ve already prompted us to look at ways we could think differently for some of our clients.

Pineapples – but not as we know them.

Pineapples are having a moment. And not just on stationery or jewellery. Introducing Piñatex… a material made from pineapple leaf fibres – in essence fibres stripped out from the parts of the plant that are left behind once the pineapple has been harvested.


Apparently, the pineapple industry is the second largest natural fruit industry globally. So no new pineapples are planted just to make this material. Even better, the waste product created (the left-overs once the fibres have been extracted from the leaves) can be converted into organic fertilizer or bio-gas. What a great way to transform a problem (the waste from pineapple harvest has been burned up until now) into something useful. We got the opportunity to see some different samples of how the material – similar texture to leather – has been put to use as a handbag, shoes and pictures of a newly upholstered car seat.

Here’s a link to a Wired interview with Carmen Hijosa who is the visionary behind Piñatex –

Would you rent a pair of jeans?

It’s not just new product development where there has been a rise in innovation. Some brands using more innovative business models or revenue streams more associated with different sectors. Mud Jeans is one example that got us thinking.

This Dutch company manufactures organic jeans. You can buy them as normal or you can rent them for a year. At the end of the year, you can decide whether to keep them, swap them for a new pair or return them. If you return them, the jeans will be upcycled into a ‘vintage’ pair that will be available to buy (and will be named after you!). Benefits all round – customers get a continually updated wardrobe without any additions to landfill, free repairs on any Mud Jeans and a financial incentive if they do return their jeans.

It’s early stages for this approach. It’ll be interesting to see how consumers feel about not owning their jeans. However, with styles from Skinny to Boyfriend and a range of different washes there should be enough style appeal to attract a new audience to an ethical / sustainable brand.

Here’s a link to the Mud Jeans website:



Fixing the problem not just working around it

Recently in Campaign magazine, there was an article by David Trott called “Problems are there to be solved.” The article tells the story of Malcom McLean who developed the modern shipping container and revolutionised the shipping industry; so much so that now 90% of the world’s goods are moved by container shipping. As Trott puts it:

“All because McLean didn’t have a good idea and stop there.

He had a good idea and began solving the problems.

And that’s the difference between something we just talk about in the pub and something that actually happens in real life.”

Jan Bigg-Wither made us think of this article. Jan is a tutor at Central Saint Martins. For years she has been helping Fashion Design students and found that a common source of problems was a standard mannequin. Apparently, a typical mannequin doesn’t have shoulder blades. So when students transferred the patterns they had made on the mannequin to a real person the garment wouldn’t fit properly. At Sustainable Fashion London, Jan said “I kept waiting for someone to fix the problem. And then I realised that I would have to do it”. So she created a new generation of mannequin, which more accurately matches the human body. Not only that but they are made using recycled materials. Now students don’t have to use workarounds or continually re-make garments and so there’s less waste. And less frustration too.


Design Surgery mannequins

Jan Bigg-Wither describing her next generation mannequins.

Here’s a link:
And a link to the David Trott article

So now we’re off to have a look to see if we can turn any waste products into future revenue streams and for other ideas that will go beyond the pub.


Thanks to Debbie Moorhouse who organised the first annual Sustainable Fashion London.