Vegan Leather made with Cactus Leaves


The perfect balance between sustainability and performance

The race to produce the cleanest and most sustainable alternative to leather will no doubt continue for years to come, but has the answer now been found?  Well, the latest innovation to challenge the leather industry is here... and it looks and feels really good!

Is it becoming more popular than ever for innovators in the textile industry to use organic plant-based materials to produce durable, low impact alternatives to leather.  So, let us introduce you to Desserto, an innovative vegan leather made from cactus leaves, a raw material which grows in abundance with very little water.

Grown and fabricated in Mexico, Cactus Leather by Desserto is an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to animal leather and it's partially biodegradable too.

How do you make cactus leather?

It's a good question. The process for cactus leather involves using either the new young leaves or the mature leaves of the plant. The the case of Desserto, they use the young leaves from the prickly pear cactus.  These leaves are harvested from organically grown cactus plants, cleaned, mashed, and left in the sun to dry for three days before being processed.

Innovative Vegan Cactus Leather | Watson & Wolfe
The Nopal Cactus Leaf and Cactus Leather

What is the prickly pear cactus?

The prickly pear, also called nopal is a flat-stemmed spiny cacti, which is mostly found in warm, dry climates. It prefers sandy and rocky conditions and requires very little water to grow. In fact, watering is only necessary once every two to three weeks during the hot and dry summer months.

The cactus fruit, sometimes called a "Prickly Pears" can also be eaten. They are very sweet and can be eaten raw, right off of the plant. The fruit of this cactus is said to have many nutritional and health benefits.

New leaves of the cactus are harvested without harming or stunting the growth of the mother plant. It is these young leaves which are used to make Desserto, and the plant regenerates and grows new leaves within a matter of months.

Is Cactus leather sustainable?

Cactus material is highly sustainable. Cacti can survive and florish in desert conditions, so there is no need for irrigation systems, which significantly reduces it's use of natural resources.  When you compare the process of obtaining the raw material, the energy and water usage you would already be hard pushed to argue in favour of animal leather.Add to this, the lack of chemicals. Desserto is made without any toxic chemicals, phthalates or PVC and it has a 10 year life span.

How can cactus leather reduce the impact of fashion?

With so much focus on biodiversity and the urgent need to reduce the global devastation caused by the fashion industry, the hope is that materials like this new Cactus Leather will replace the use of animal leather in fashion, automotive, aeronautics and footwear.

What can you make with cactus leather?

The material can be used in the application of upholstery, automotive, fashion, shoes, handbags and more. In fact the material can be used for anything which you would use raw animals hides to produce.

Unsurprisingly, Desserto has already won an Internationally recognised award. The founders and innovators Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez beat more than 1,400 nominees from 52 countries to win the VII International Green Product Award in Munich, Germany.

If you are inspired by this material, then we have great news!  Cactus Leather will be making a debut in our collection very soon. To be one of the first to know more, be sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook, or sign up to our email newsletter.

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