Two Mexican entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez have created a sustainable, cruelty-free alternative to animal leather. Desserto appears to be the first organic leather made entirely from the nopal cactus. The cactus is sometimes referred to as a prickly-pear cactus.
Nopal vegan leather is suitable for general leather goods and fashion, including for the car market as it has elasticity, breathability and can last at least 10 years. It is also partially biodegradable. Desserto’s cactus leather is therefore nicely poised to take advantage of the growing trend in vegan fashion.
It is a typical story of committed entrepreneurs. López Velarde and Cázarez both left their jobs to develop Desserto.
The pair have two hectares where they cultivate nopals and have the potential to expand to forty hectares when necessary.
Nopal Cactus: a workable alternative to traditional leather
After two years of research and development, the business partners realised that nopal could be a workable alternative to traditional leather.
“We managed to produce a suitable material that complies with the features and technical/mechanical specifications required by those industries that use animal or synthetic leather,” López Velarde told Fashion United.
“Also, thanks to its organic composition, it is breathable, which makes cactus or nopal vegan leather similar to animal leather.”
Desserto managed to create a marketable leather in July and first showcased its products in October at the International Leather Fair Lineapelle in Milan where it was well-received.
The brand is working on potential applications in various different industries to replace the use of animal leather and various synthetic materials that are not environmentally friendly. The brand believes that nopal cactus leather is particularly well suited to the luxury market.
Deserto sees its biggest challenge to be a way to make their materials available to small to medium-sized companies.