Leather is well-sought and a part of $80 billion industry. And if I’m to be honest with you, I do like it because it lasts. My 6-year-old leather wallet is still in good shape and it still has that distinctive smell I really like (and sniff once in a while). And that’s without proper maintenance.
Although, I realize that leather leaves negative impact on the environment. Not to mention that it’s from living animals. As much as I like leather, I’m completely open to the eco-friendlier alternatives because of that reason.
Well, thanks to these two Mexican entrepreneurs, we’ve got another sustainable leather alternative. This one has the look and feel of real leather as well. Since you’ve read the title, yes, this faux-leather is from cactus.
Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez have developed a method of transforming cactuses into vegan leather that looks like the real thing. At first glance, you’ll never guess that the material is a type of desert plant.
Fittingly, the two entrepreneurs called their vegan leather Desserto. They grow their cactuses on their plantation in the Mexican state of the Zacatecas. Because of its rugged, thick skin, cactus becomes the perfect texture to simulate animal leather.
López Velarde said, “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,
“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.”
Highly sustainable, the prickly pear cactus requires very little water to thrive and harvesting the plant doesn’t cause any harm.
How does one get leather from cactus? First, they cut mature leaves from organic cactus plants. Then, they clean, mash, and leave the leaves out in the sun to dry for three days before processing.
After all that, they dye those processed leaves naturally using methods developed by the two entrepreneurs. The result is vegan, organic-certified leather that can hold up to regular usage for nearly a decade.
What’s more, Desserto’s vegan leather is on par, in terms of pricing, with genuine leather. So far, the company has made car seats, shoes, handbags, and apparel.
Since the leather is organic, it’s breathable unlike synthetic alternatives. And, another plus for the environment, Desserto is partially biodegradable and the resin finish uses less PU, also making it partially recyclable.
Oh, and it doesn’t contain any plastic. Which is another problem with synthetic leather.
This makes Desserto another alternative to animal leather that has very minimal impact on the planet. And that’s great, because eco conscious people will have even more options.
The company debuted in 2019 at the world’s most important fair for leather manufacturers, Lineapelle. When they did, the cactus leather received overwhelmingly positive reception.
Many lauded Desserto for its flexibility, softness, touch, and color. Currently, the brand is negotiating projects with major players and working to make the material more accessible to medium and small business.
Who knows? We may get ourselves some cactus leather goods soon.
Vegan handbag called the WEEK/END by FRIDA ROME
Indiegogo and Kickstarter are places where you can find lots of eco-friendly stuff. There’s a new addition: vegan leather handbags with a lot of brilliant features that are worth backing.
Did you guess that the vegan leather is from cactus? You’re right. This bag uses Desserto’s product. Compared to some faux leathers (and of course, real leather), the cactus one rates highly on the sustainable scale.
Now, the lining itself is a vegan luxury eco-suede from Italy. It provides the WEEK/END with a smooth interior, adding sumptuous, luxurious feel of the bag.
I don’t know about the materials for the suede, but the manufacturers use exclusively water-based dyes and are committed to low wastage and reduced energy resources in their production process.
UK-made, by artisan bag crafters
If you live in the UK, it’s a good chance to support local business. The founders aim to reduce their carbon footprint, so they choose not to manufacture overseas. That’s also a matter of ethics for FRIDA ROME.
“It was important to us to manufacture at home in that way we could support people like Carol, our artisan bag maker, who has over 30 years’ experience. We’re proud to know our bag makers personally,” said co-founder, Natalie.
Co-founder Rebecca added, “And we’re privileged to be able to spend time in their workshop whenever we need to. We get to see their working conditions first hand and marvel at their talents. We can be on hand so that, together, we can make sure our bags are made to the highest standard.”
The features you shouldn’t miss
I mentioned that the handbags have a lot of brilliant features. Firstly, the bags are deconstructable. Thanks to the ingenious design of WEEK/END, we’ll no longer have to compromise when we travel with this bag.
It packs flat, but the bags still have structural integrity. And, the storage will be effortless. A big win for us who like to change bags and just tuck them away when we don’t use them.
Secondly, the brand’s not afraid to be casual in terms of eroticism. FRIDA ROME has already established that their brand is for “bad girls who do good things” and they want to “make sustainability sexy” (per their Instagram account).
On a bespoke label, hidden inside the WEEK/END is a tasteful erotic story chapter written for women, by women. If you’re tired of prudish brands or something like that, then you should get this bag.
Thirdly, you can wear this bag three ways. Whatever fits your style and comfort, you can wear this bag as a crossbody, shoulder or clutch bag.
Moreover, it has extendable strap, making it suitable for women of any height. There are additional matching extenders that attach to the shoulder strap (this is a reward add-on on Kickstarter).
WEEK/END also has its own companion called the FRIDA ROME eco-tote. It pairs so well with the compact crossbody and folds away neatly inside. Like the extenders, this is also an add-on when selecting a reward on Kickstarter.
Lastly, you can have custom-made dust bag. So when you deconstruct this bag, you can keep it clean and safe without fuss in the bespoke dust bag.
If you’re interested in this bag and/or cactus leather, maybe for gift-giving in the festive season, go here for the bag (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-weekend-a-vegan-handbag-with-an-edge#/) and here for the leather (https://desserto.com.mx/ordering).