It is difficult to offer a vegan leather alternative without using synthetic materials such as plastic that are bad for the environment, but a New Mexican brand by the name of Desserto has found a way to do just that with the help of the nopal cactus.
Desserto has found a way to create organic and cruelty-free leather that is both durable and beautiful. This innovation is the first of its kind and has the potential to transform the leather industry and put it on the path to sustainability.
Partners Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez first debuted their pioneering brand, Desserto, at the International Leather Fair Lineapelle roughly one month ago. The launch of their product has caused a buzz and made many sustainable junkies, prick up their ears with interest.
The leather produced from their Mexico-based cactus farms is not only sustainable but also partially biodegradable, durable yet soft and high quality.
While it is currently being used for mostly for luggage, the material has the potential to be used in other clothing products, accessories and even car interiors in future.
The final product produced from the nopal cactus is the result of over two years of research, development and close attention to details. The cactus leather is on standard with the current specifications required for industries that use animal and synthetic leather as well.
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The idea for Desserto was born when the founders became aware of the plastic pollution crisis. The nopal cactus was chosen for its abundance in Mexico as well as the fact that it needs no water to grow. The nopal cactus is commonly used to feed livestock and is often added to a variety of dishes.
Locals may know the nopal by its more casual name the “prickly pear cactus”. The Desserto brand does not plan to make products from the material themselves but rather sell it to fashion brands and designers to promote sustainable alternatives to leather.
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Many vegan leather products out there contain synthetic materials that consist of toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates. The most common materials used are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU) and while they are technically cruelty-free and more sustainable than the real leather alternative, they are not biodegradable and often end up in landfills and even negatively effecting wildlife in the long term.
This is still better than “real leather”, however, as raising livestock for leather production is costly and consumes a huge quantity of resources as well as pollutes the air and soil. After the tanning process the materials made from natural products become impossible to biodegrade due to exposure to harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and chromium.
The Desserto brand is expected to be worth billions of dollars by 2025 and could revolutionise the way we see leather for good.