H&M X Desserto: Fashion Giant Uses Mexican Startup’s Cactus Leather In New Sustainable Collection

3 Mins Read

Clothing giant H&M recently launched its new sustainable concept, Innovation Stories with its debut collection, Science Story that includes pieces developed using plant-based leather developed by Mexican-based brand Desserto.

H&M announced its new concept Innovation Stories which will launch multiple collections this year, each representing a sustainable process and alternative materials and with Science Story, its debut collection, prickly pear cactus was transformed to create smooth vegan leather.

Developed in 2019 by Mexican entrepreneurs Adrian Lopez and Marte Cazarez, Desserto offers a plant-based alternative to leather, developed from cactus plants.

The company claims that the naturally-tanned cactus-based organic material is quite similar to animal leather but without harming any animals. The process uses a species of cacti called prickly pears, which require hardly any water to grow and can easily survive in different climate zones. 

Desserto’s vegan-friendly, non-plastic leather alternative has put Mexico on the map of the sustainable fashion industry. The material is also cruelty-free, free of toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC-free.

Source: Adriano Di Marti

A report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) points out that fashion is one of the most damaging and polluting industries for the environment with textile production responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions.

Aside from using cactus leather, the Science Story collection also includes pieces made from other eco alternative materials, for instance, one process includes converting castor beans into ultra-light and stretchy fabric thus using EVO by Fulgar, a bio-based yarn obtained from castor oil, a renewable resource.

The womenswear includes clothing such as a wide-leg bright white jeans with removable double waistband, a lightly-cropped chalk-white shirt with oversized breast-pocket, and also boasts of accessories such as a necklace with orange swirls and rhinestone detailing, recycled plastic blue sunglasses, and many more.

Pieces from the Science Story Collection. Source: Desserto

Aside from H&M, last year Karl-Lagerfeld announced the creation of an eco-friendly accessories line with actress and activist Amber Valletta that will feature Desserto’s vegan leather, and in October of last year, Sanabul, a U.S. martial arts and athletic equipment brand launched the world’s first boxing gloves made using the Spanish brand’s cactus material.

The innovation has also won Lopez and Cazarez the VII International Green Product Award in Munich, Germany.

Alternative leather is increasingly becoming mainstream with H&M earlier introducing ‘wine leather‘ made from leftover grapes in their collection, and London-based accessories line Luxtra creating new handbags from vegan mango leather

According to a report, this trend will drive major growth in the global vegan leather market, rising by an annual rate of nearly 50% to reach a massive US$89.6 billion within the next five years. 

READ: Check out this complete guide to cruelty-free vegan leather alternatives that are increasingly becoming popular among sustainable fashion consumers.

H&M also recently joined forces with iconic 1990s jeans brand Lee to unveil a denim collection that will feature recycled cotton jeans developed out of 80% post-industrial waste and leather-free backpacks made out of cork and jacron paper.

Earlier this month, H&M issued a €500 million (US$606 million) SLB, which in contrast to green bonds, are tied to companies meeting their defined sustainability targets and with a maturity of 8.5 years drawing in a whopping US$4.6 billion orders, the debut was so strong with investors oversubscribing by 7.6-times, allowing the fashion giant to cut the interest yield rate offered by half between initial price talk and final terms.

Science Story is now available in select stores and on H&M’s website for U.S. and Canadian consumers.

Lead image courtesy of Desserto.


  • Tanuvi Joe

    Born and bred in India and dedicated to the cause of sustainability, Tanuvi Joe believes in the power of storytelling. Through her travels and conversations with people, she raises awareness and provides her readers with innovative ways to align themselves towards a kinder way of living that does more good than harm to the planet. Tanuvi has a background in Journalism, Tourism, and Sustainability, and in her free time, this plant parent surrounds herself with books and rants away on her blog Ruffling Wings.

You might also like