Sustainable fashion: How Cactus Leather is becoming a leather alternative – fashion and trends

Being mindful of the environment has never before been more significant, considering the year we are having. From the Australian bushfires to the all-consuming coronavirus pandemic, we should know by now that Nature is not to be trifled with and we should all do our part when it comes to contributing to its preservation.

When talking about the safety and preservation of the planet, every little step counts. And inventing an alternative to leather, is certainly no small achievement. There are some inventions in the world that are so brilliant that people are left wondering how nobody could have thought of it before.

México-based entrepreneurs, Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, have developed a new method of transforming cacti into a leather like material that is just as durable and textured as the genuine article.

The finished products are elastic, and breathable. Almost anything can be made out of Vegan leather, without the added price tag of genuine leather and is great for the environment, being an important step towards slow fashion. This alternative brand has been given the name ‘Desserto’, which is fitting, considering where the cacti inhabit. Desserto is the first organic leather made from the nopal (or prickly-pear) cactus.

ALSO READ: How pineapple leaf fibre, orange peels, algae biomass, pet bottles are contributing to sustainable fashion choices

Adrián and Marte are friends who were working together in the fashion and furniture automotive industry but once they came to see just how toxic the production of certain objects were, they decided to pursue a more sustainable type of fashion alternative. After almost two years of working hard on this project, they finally came up with a finished cactus leather product which was marketable in 2019.


With regards to the material used for the production of vegan leather, cacti fibre work surprisingly well as it is highly durable and reliant. It can survive in extreme weather conditions and does not require a lot of water to grow. According to Adrián and Marte, the production does not involve the use of any toxic chemicals, making the brand sustainable in its own right.

In recent years, several brands have been coming up with new forms of vegan leather made from plants such as pineapple and olives. In early 2019, fashion retailer H&M debuted a vegan jacket made from pineapple leather and other products under their Conscious Exclusive collection. Luxury brand Hugo Boss debuted vegan sneakers made from pineapple leather in 2018.

ALSO READ: Sustainable fashion: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

Celebrated fashion designer Stella McCartney has been an early adopter of sustainable fashion on the runway and her recent collections are proof of the choice made by the designer.

Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a polymer that can be made to order according to the product being created. Pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, fruit waste, recycled plastic and many more can be used to create these products. Ralph Lauren Polo too is known to have made a tee-shirt using ocean plastic, while some brands have also used coffee bean waste and turned them into durable sneakers that are also good to look at.

— additional inputs by Saumya Sharma

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