Having a pineapple moment: Studio Beej’s latest launch with Piñatex

The Ananas in indigo   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As the world celebrates International Pineapple Day on June 27, Mumbai-based Studio Beej is all set to launch Ananas, a clutch made of Piñatex. A fresh take on their evening clutch, Ditya, the new handmade variant is aimed at popularising the bio-textile made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. Globally, it is used by brands such as H&M, Paul Smith, and Hugo Boss.

This is not the Studio’s first experiment with Piñatex. Last year, they used it in a cross body bag (Laya), a hobo bag (Ananta), and Ditya. With these offerings, the brand joins the list of international names like Chanel, H&M, Hugo Boss, and Nike — who recently launched the seven-sneaker Happy Pineapple Collection — that work with the plant-based alternative to leather.

(right) Arundhati Kumar with an artisan

(right) Arundhati Kumar with an artisan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The startup launched in 2020 is the brainchild of Arundhati Kumar, who believes that being sustainable must go beyond being just eco-friendly. “There are other companies in India who are working with eco materials such as Arture [cork, Desserto or cactus leather], Aulive [Piñatex, cork], but we are the only company that dabbles in multiple sustainable materials. We were the first to bring cactus leather into the country,” says Kumar, whose line of wallets, clutches, bags, belts, laptop sleeves made of bio-based-materials marry the aesthetic of Indian craft with the ethical practices of conscious living. “We currently work with four main materials — cork from Portugal, Piñatex from Spanish company Ananas Anam [which sources from the Philippines], Desserto from Mexico, and Khesh from West Bengal.”

Cork is the bark of the tree which is harvested responsibly every nine years, explains Kumar, adding that it is light because one-third of its cellular structure is air. “So a big bag, unlike one made of leather, will never weigh you down. It’s completely recyclable and comes with cotton backing. It’s also naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.” While earlier bags were designed by her, the new launch has been crafted by their creative director, Abhijit Datta.

A briefcase made from khesh

A briefcase made from khesh   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Recycled zippers and handloom linings

Kumar goes on to explain how Desserto is vegan leather derived from the Nopal Cactus of Mexico, and Khesh is made from old cotton saris torn into thin strips and re-woven to make a colourful fabric. “When we curate a product, while we do look at the hero material, we also try to minimise the impact of the accessories we use.” Bag linings are sourced from Bengaluru-based Khaloom, which creates handloom material from recycled yarn, and occasionally upcycled material from discarded umbrellas is also used. Zippers come from Japanese company YKK which makes them from recycled PET plastic, and logos are embroidered. “We live in a time when customers want transparency. We put out supplier and certification details on our website so they can decide whether the product fits into their conscious buying mode,” says Kumar, adding that their delivery packaging is made of jute and recyclable cardboard.

The hamper for men made from cork

The hamper for men made from cork   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Now exploring

While these materials are the core of Studio Beej, she speaks of two other cutting-edge materials she’s currently exploring: Malai from Kerala, made from coconut waste, and Mirum from the US that combines natural fibres like corn and rice husk with rubber waste. While Kumar is keen on using homegrown materials, she says not much R&D is happening in India. So, will the worlds of luxury and sustainability meet easily? “Sustainable is going to be the new luxury. Luxury is going the conscious way. From Hermes to Fossil, and Nike, every brand is working on such materials,” she concludes.

Products are priced between ₹850 and ₹14,500.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 8:05:02 PM |

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