This week, luxury fashion house Karl Lagerfeld debuted its first collection made with vegan cactus leather. The label partnered with supermodel and sustainability advocate Amber Valletta—a friend of the late Karl Lagerfeld—to create the Lagerfeld x Amber Valletta collection which features Desserto, a vegan leather made from nopal (prickly pear cactus) by Mexican entrepreneurs Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez. During his lifetime, Lagerfeld was a fan of using fur in his fashion collections. However, Valletta’s interpretation of Lagerfeld’s designs—the brand’s first collaboration—features a sustainable cactus leather version of the iconic K/Kushion bag which comes in a dark green or black hue (colored with organic pigments) in a pleated or seamless design. The collection also features a GRS (global recycle standard) cotton version of the K/Kusion bag and toiletry bag, along with a wallet and cardholder made from award-winning Desserto. “This collaboration shows that we don’t have to sacrifice great style to make responsibly made fashion,” Valletta said. 

The Lagerfeld x Amber Valletta collection—priced between $58 to $470—is available exclusively on the Karl Lagerfeld website and on e-commerce platform Zalando. A portion of sales from the collection will be donated to Ocean Cleanup, an organization that works to rid the oceans of plastic. A second Lagerfeld x Amber Valletta collection with ready-to-wear clothing will debut for spring 2022. 

Designers ditch leather

Lagerfield joins a growing number of fashion labels that have opted to incorporate new vegan leathers made from other sustainable materials in their collections. In 2020, biotechnology company Bolt Threads partnered with major fashion brands such as Stella McCartney, Adidas, Lululemon, and Kering to give them access to its Mylo vegan leather (made from mycelium, the fast growing root-systems of mushrooms). Last month, McCartney became the first designer to showcase Mylo in two concept pieces: a bustier and trousers. Another company in the mycelium space, MycoWorks is working with luxury brand Hermès to release a new version of its Victoria handbag made using mycelium-based Sylvania. 

Outside of the luxury designer realm, other fashion companies are now using plant-based leather made from myriad materials such as wine industry waste, pineapples, recycled ocean plastic, and other alternatives to both animal leather and plastic-based vegan leather.

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