Fashion Industry Eyes Alternative Leather Made Out of Cactus–And it’s Sustainable and Eco-Friendly

Photo by Adriano Di Marti

Two men have succeeded in developing an alternative to animal leather made out of Mexican cactus—and it could save millions of animals worldwide.

Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez created their vegan fabric out of the nopal cactus and spent two years researching and developing their design. They then perfected the manufacturing process in July and unveiled the fabric to the fashion world in Milan, Italy in October.

The entrepreneurs realized the environmental impact of animal leather spending years working in the furniture, automotive, and fashion industries. Upon quitting their jobs, they co-founded Adriano Di Marti to find an innovative leather replacement.

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Their patented “Desserto” fabric is made out of cactus leaves that are sustainably harvested every 6 to 8 months. The material is designed to breathe easily while still being durable and partially biodegradable. In addition to the cactus-based material requiring a minimal amount of water to develop, it is grown organically in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

The material, which is available in a variety of colors produced using natural dyes, has now been used to make everything from bags and automotive seating to shoes and jackets.

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