The latest in eco-friendly fashion

From cork to pineapple to mushrooms, plenty of plant-based leathers are available today. Although these alternative leathers – whether they are plastic or plant-based, or both – are marketed as a sustainable alternative to real leather, the jury is still out on their long-term impacts as most of them contain a type of plastic called polyurethane (PU), which could sit in landfills for decades post-use.

However, with the plant-based leather market expected to reach $139.2M by 2032, it’s of no surprise brands are trying to weed out and harness the sustainable properties of plant-based by-products. And this is an area that is particularly appealing to Gen Z (of whom 67% of Gen Z agree that it is very important to contribute to the well-being of people and nature). Ahead, three examples of conscious upcycling and utilizing agricultural leftovers.


Founders of Desserto; Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez, have developed a method of transforming cacti into vegan leather.

Made from cacti grown on their plantation, the cactus is known for its tough, thick skin, making it the perfect texture to simulate animal leather. So far, the company has created car seats, shoes, handbags, and even apparel used by brands such as H&M and Everlanel. And since it's made of organic material, their leather is breathable, partially biodegradable and doesn't contain any plastic- all pluses for the environment.

— Rebecca, 25, MN (Cassandra Collective)


Continuing on the cactus theme, Ohoskin is made using orange and cacti waste from the food and beauty industries.

Launched in 2019, the startup has designed its material to offer luxury brands in the fashion, furniture, and automotive industries a vegan and sustainable alternative to leather. Now Ohoskin is the first 100% bio-based and non-fossil leather alternative. Thanks to a new recipe with recycled plastics and organic components, it reduces the carbon footprint and extends the product’s life cycle.


Green-fingered sneakerheads can celebrate, as Adidas recently dropped a pair of EQT 93 “Plant and Grow” sandals made from fully vegan materials, including rubber and textile.

Said to be inspired by “guerrilla gardening” (cultivating plants in public places that are not being cared for), the sandals take inspiration from nature for their color palette of Green Oxide, Brown, and Easy Yellow and have been designed with community gardening projects as a key inspiration.