You know the song, but did you know about the fabric? (I didn’t.) Called “Piña” (Spanish for pineapple) in the Philippines, where it originated, this textile has been around for ages and is now experiencing a small – and hopefully growing – revival.
History of Pineapple Silk
Though the Spaniards introduced the pineapple plant to the Philippines, there is evidence that the textile was produced even earlier, with traders bringing it as far as Egypt and Greece several hundred years ago. It was traditionally worn by the Philippine elite, and is often used for formal and wedding attire.
If you’re a patient and curious type, check out this 1918 silent film about the making of piña lingerie. How cool is it that this is on YouTube?
Piña production is rather involved, from what I’ve read. One source says that it can involve up to 30 people to complete the process from start to finish. It begins with scraping the fiber from the pineapple leaf:
The fiber is then washed, dried, waxed, and bound into yarn before being woven into fabric that is silky and translucent.
Modern Pineapple Silk Fashion
I first discovered piña while perusing the website of the Canadian sustainable fashion brand Elroy Apparel. The designer makes several pieces of various blends of the stuff, combining the eco-friendly textile with classic silhouettes.