Its two founders, Adrián and Marte, are two Mexicans who set out to solve a very important environmental problem. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world, with serious consequences for animals and water.

After several years working in the fashion and automotive sectors, respectively, Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez made a clear decision. They would “get down to business” to achieve a greener future .

Their experience allowed them to learn about the problem closely: the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world . Its waste exceeds 100 million tons each year; almost nothing.

Much of this quantity is not biodegradable, as it is composed of different chemical elements, negative for nature. And how to solve this situation, with the high demand for clothing that exists?

Yes, cactus. These two young Mexicans have developed a vegetable leather, made with cactus, under the name of Desserto .

Saving water

In Mexico, this plant is very abundant; in fact, it is so popular that it is one of the national icons. In addition, as they explain in the video , it hardly needs water ; just the opposite of animal leather, which comes largely from cows. And these consume a lot: almost 7,000 liters each year.

If we multiply them by their population, the numbers skyrocket. To these must be added the water used in the processing of leather and other textiles. We keep counting. The fact of the matter is that water is not an unlimited resource , although it may perish.

However, this does not happen with Desserto. Adrián and Marte chose this plant precisely because of its ability to survive with very little quantity .

How is the proccess?

They have a plantation in Zacatecas. There, they cut the mature leaves of the nopal cacti, clean them and crush them. Afterwards, they let them dry in the sun for three days. Then they are ready to be processed and turned into leather fabric. All this, without chemicals , so it is biodegradable.

A “vegan” leather with which they prepare different garments , such as capes, bags, belt and watch straps, shoes, car upholstery and even sofas.

Very soft to the touch and elastic, they ensure that its useful life is at least 10 years. Also, they already sell it in different colors , to personalize it more.

They presented it for the first time a year ago, in Milan. Now they have risen to fame, again, after being classified as one of the three finalist projects in the LVMH Innovation Award 2020 for startups .

Its ambition is not only to change the problem posed by the animal or artificial leather industry – made of plastic – but also to create jobs in an alternative that is still quite incipient.

Other companies that are committed to an ecological leather

However, despite its low current market share, sustainable leather – like sustainable industry in general – is steadily gaining importance. Proof of this are the vegan leather sneakers by No Saints , made with pineapple leaf fibers, the Mylo bags made with mushrooms or the interior of the Porsche Taycan , available in vegan leather. Tesla has also announced its intention to remove animal leather from its vehicles.

The environmental concern leads and accelerate these initiatives. It is still too early to assess whether they convince the public or not, but for now, they are already available to anyone looking for compromised options .