When brands from Karl Lagerfeld to COS start using a material, it’s time to start paying attention. And cactus leather—the vegan alternative made from dried pads of mature desert cacti varieties—is definitely earning its moment in the sun as a new fashion mainstay. Sadly, the design industry has been slow to get on the bandwagon. But the L.A.-based interior, product, and textile designer Natasha Baradaran hopes to change that.
Her Livwell Cactus Leather, likely the industry’s first cruelty-free option, is sourced from an organic farm in central Mexico. The cactus itself is grown without damaging irrigation systems, watered only by rain; it’s dried only by the sun, without additional energy use. The leather is fully biodegradable and complies with the Global Recycled Standard. Little of this would matter, of course, if the vegan leather wasn’t appealing. Fortunately, it’s as beautiful as it is ethical. Baradaran is betting she can herd designers towards iterations in pebbled, canvas, and geometric patterns in colorways like terracotta and sky—and away from their bovine predecessors.