Headquarters: Guadalajara Mexico
Mission: To be at the forefront of innovation, going beyond the needs of the leather goods market, offering high quality materials made with sustainable alternatives.
After working in the furniture, automotive, and fashion industries and seeing first hand the problem of leather’s environmental pollution, Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, both hailing from Mexico, founded Adriano Di Marti to create an alternative to animal leather. After two years of research and development, Adrián and Marte showcased their animal-free leather Desserto, made with nopal (a cactus), in October 2019 in Milan, Italy.
According to their promotional materials, Desserto is a sustainable plant-based leather made from an organic blend of nopal (cactus) and recycled fibers like cotton, distinguished by its softness, while offering performance for a variety of applications and complying with rigorous quality and environmental standards.
The nopal cactus is grown without pesticides or herbicides on a farm in the state of Zacatecas in Mexico. This species (Opuntia ficus-indica) is cold tolerant and grows with rain water only; no irrigation is used. Mature pads are harvested every 6-8 months without damage to the plant itself. The short spines make this species safer and easier for the agricultural team to harvest.
After harvest, the pads are sun dried for three days to achieve the necessary humidity level. No additional energy is used in the drying process. The dried pads are ground and processed as part of their patented formula and a mechanical/chemical process is used to produce Desserto.
Organic formula uses Opuntia ficus-indica species of cactus called nopal, a type of prickly pear.
Coating is a resin composed of their organic formula and polyurethane (PU).
Scaffold/backing can be 100% recycled cotton, 100% recycled polyester, or a 65% polyester/35% cotton blend.
Desserto is likely more sustainable than bovine leather in many categories. Cactus are adapted to grow in dry conditions and no irrigation or supplemental water is needed for growth or processing. The plants are grown on fully organic farms; no herbicides or pesticides are used and organic matter remaining after harvest and before coating is sold to the food industry. No animals or animal products are used in the production of Desserto.
Harvesting of pads does not kill the plant, which can continue to grow and be harvested for 20+ years. Sun drying of the harvested pads requires no additional energy input. Chemical use is far less than for tanning/dying bovine or petroleum-based synthetics. Desserto is free of PVC, DMF, heavy metals, solvents, and phthalate, but is coated with polyurethane.
According to the company, Desserto is highly recyclable mechanically or chemically without freeing toxic substances. With the polyurethane coating, Desserto may have more of the technical specifications required by the fashion, home goods, and automotive industries.
MII has not yet evaluated samples, but the company maintains that Desserto is breathable and mildew resistant and has a number of positive characteristics compared to bovine and petroleum-based leathers. Desserto can be produced in a number of different colors, thicknesses, and textures.
HANDBAGS, FOOTWEAR, CLOTHING
HANDBAGS Available in 4 colors (Green Cactus, Black Night, Sand Beige, and Red Tuna-not pictured).
FOOTWEAR Available in Offwhite Star and Black Midnight.
CLOTHING Available in Black Opuntia.
Images from Desserto.