Now that consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, companies are trying to keep up with the rising demand for eco-friendly and cruelty-free products to help save the nature. Leather is one of the world’s most traded commodities, but the involvement of animal products and harsh chemicals in its manufacturing process is problematic.
Animal lovers and environmentalists have long been lobbying against its use, and now, these two businessmen have found a material perfect for creating faux leather – cacti!
Mexican entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez developed a method that could help save the nature by transforming this desert plant into vegan leather that looks exactly like the real thing!
The cactus-made leather called Desserto is made from nopal (aka the prickly pear) grown on their massive plantation in Zacatecas, Mexico. The rugged and thick skin of the cactus makes it the perfect material to simulate animal leather’s texture.
Adrián worked in the furniture and automotive industries, while Marte worked in the fashion industry. These fields used large quantities of leather, and they realized how harmful it was to the animals and the environment.
They were deeply bothered by this, so they left their jobs and started their own company, Adriano Di Marti. After two years of researching eco-friendly materials to create leather, they hit the jackpot – cactus.
“The idea of using this raw material was conceived because this plant does not need any water to grow, and there is plenty of it throughout the Mexican Republic. Also, symbolically, it represents all of us Mexicans and everybody knows it,” Adrián said.
“Besides, to be able to incorporate this material into various industries, it is essential to count on a stable, abundant supply of raw material. We currently have 2 hectares where we cultivate nopals, as well as an expansion capacity of 40 hectares. Regarding production capacity, we have 500,000 linear meters a month.”
The duo debuted their product in 2019 at the Lineapelle, which is considered the world’s most important fair for leather manufacturers. During the event, many different industries and designers from all over the world expressed their interest in Desserto. The duo received so many congratulations and positive comments for their revolutionary product.
“A Lineapelle presenter in the innovation and sustainability forum said that out of all sustainable materials in the fair, ours was the most appropriate for use in luxury brands thanks to its flexibility, softness, touch and color,” Adrian shared.
Before processing the material, mature leaves from the organically grown cactus plants are cut, cleaned, mashed, and left to dry under the sun for three days. Adriano di Marti developed methods to dye the dried cactus leaves naturally. The result is vegan leather that is certified organic, and that can last for nearly a decade with regular use.
When asked about the greatest hurdle they’re facing right now, Adrian said: “The biggest challenge we have encountered is finding a way to make our materials accessible for small and medium-sized companies, because sometimes minimum purchase quantities are a barrier for them. This is why we always try to have an inventory so they can buy small quantities, and we are also working with potential suppliers who can make our materials available for everyone.”
Adriano Di Marti’s vegan leather costs and looks the same as animal leather and it helps save the nature. So far, the company has produced car seats, handbags, shoes, and apparel. Since it’s made of organic material, their leather is breathable, which is a quality that most synthetic alternatives don’t have.
Also, cactus leather is partially biodegradable and doesn’t contain any phthalates, toxic chemicals, and PVC, which is another plus for Mother Nature! With all these impressive qualities, Desserto is currently the best alternative for consumers who want to sport “leather” without hurting the planet.
Learn more about Adrián and Marte’s innovative creation in the video below.
If more people knew that there was vegan leather of this kind, the demand for it would rise. Let the world know that there’s a better alternative out there and share this story!