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Materials that matter: Desserto®

Soft, supple and made with a little help from nature’s favourite prickly plant, meet the bold new biomaterial behind COS’ first ever plant-based bags and cardholder collection.

The idea of any piece of clothing or accessory made from ‘nature’s favourite prickly plant’ may sit, well, rather uncomfortably for most of us. After all, the words ‘soft’ and ‘supple’ aren’t usually synonymous with any succulent, never mind the cactus plant. However, COS’ special capsule collection is here with a point of its own to prove.

Each piece is crafted from a material innovation called Desserto®, which uses biomaterials that derive from a special type of cactus known as ‘the nopal’. Created by Mexico-based brothers Adrián López Velarde (he/him) and Marte Cázarez (he/him), this plant-based material is designed as an alternative to animal leather to help reduce the environmental impact caused by the production process. According to Adrián and Marte, the nopal cactus is a ‘miracle of nature’ as it can be grown on land where other crops usually won’t prosper. In their ‘Top 10 Sustainable Facts of Desserto®’, they celebrate a range of biodiversity benefits, from using no herbicides or pesticides to grow to having a great CO2-sequestering capacity – which helps restore the atmosphere by lowering levels of CO2 emissions. This, they claim, will help tackle ‘climate change… one of the biggest challenges that humanity has to face.’

Though the production of animal leathers raises questions around chemical emissions, the sustainability credentials are still widely debated in the industry. The fact remains that well-made leather has more staying power than most materials. Investing in something with a longer lifespan and wearing it over and over is, in itself, a more responsible way of updating your wardrobe. There are also more environmentally friendly animal leathers available now too, such as ones made using chrome-free tanning methods. Currently COS is using chrome-free leather for a range of pieces in its collection – from clothing to bags and accessories. But there’s no doubt that the introduction of more plant-based alternatives can only be seen as a positive thing – and they have been welcomed by brands, such as COS, who are backing the movement into more sustainable production processes.

Desserto® is the first of its kind and not only promises a lighter environmental impact, but also boasts a high-quality look and feel that will stand the test of time. As COS continues its commitment to creating more sustainably minded collections, it has embraced the power of plant-based to create a series of bags and cardholders for women and men made from entirely from this innovative material. The capsule consists of a classic cardholder, lanyard, crossbody bag and 48-hour travel bag – all of which feature a range of practical details, such as passport pockets, phone and laptop sleeves and handy zip pouches. Plus, each piece comes in classic black or a bold shade of botanical green – for those who want to truly embrace the nature of the cactus in their wardrobe this season – and beyond…

The collection is available to buy in stores and online at


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