Introducing the first range of Weejuns fully non-leather shoes. Originally devised to reinvent a staple of the collection, we've expanded the access of the classic loafer in our first range of loafers made from Desserto® a plant-based vegan alternative to leather, that not only fits our exacting design criteria, but has an ecological impact that is many times lighter than animal or synthetic leather.

This incredible material is applied with the same time-honoured techniques as our standard shoes, including original penny loafer design, tubular moccasin construction and skilled hand stitching by artisans. The result is a classically crafted Weejuns shoe reinvented for today’s demands.

Never Prickly

Producers across all sectors are looking at ways to shake up their industries in the face of climate change, and fashion is no different. But Desserto® cactus leather stands out and has swept up multiple awards and recognitions in just three years. This includes a Green Product Award, Good Design Award Gold, LMVH Innovation Award, Peta certification and recognition as vegan, and USDA organic certification.

What makes it so special?

Desserto® is a cactus-based biomaterial that is an alternative to leather. Made with nopal cactus leaves and developed in Mexico, Desserto® is a cruelty-free and sustainable leather made without toxic chemicals and PVC. It is a highly organic product that offers high resistance to abrasion, rubbing, tearing, tensile and great durability.

Eco-entrepreneurs Adrian Lopez Velarde and Marte Cazarez created Desserto® cactus leather and, in their own words, describe it as a “highly sustainable vegan biomaterial developed in Mexico as an alternative to leather, often distinguished by its softness to the touch.”

In short, it looks like quality leather, and is particularly soft, but is made entirely from nopal cactus leaves grown in sustainable and organic farms in Mexico. Because it’s outside the livestock farming cycle - and thanks to the production techniques used - it has a significantly smaller carbon, energy, and water footprint than traditional or synthetic leathers.

What’s more, it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals including petroleum, either in the production process or post-life cycle as waste, like those associated with synthetic leather alternatives like PVC.

How is it made?

Weejuns’ time-tested commitment to crafting good shoes for the purpose they’ve been made means credentials matter. And Desserto®’s eco-credentials stack up.

The cactus farm that supplies Desserto® leather works on a carbon negative farming model, meaning it actually absorbs more carbon per year than it releases. The farm generates 15.3 tonnes of C02 each year but absorbs an incredible 8,100 tonnes of C02.

Desserto® cactus leather production also uses less water than animal and synthetic leather. 0.02 m3 of water per m2 compared to 33 m3 and 2.9 m3, respectively. And uses considerably less energy (34 MJ) than these other types of leather too (336 MJ for animal leather and 93 MJ for synthetic leather).

Once the mature cactus pads are harvested by hand, the producers dry them under the Mexican sun for three days. They extract the plant’s proteins and selected fibres, transform them into a bio-resin that’s mixed with organic pigments that go on to become Desserto® cactus leather 

Weejuns x DESSERTO®

Hand-stitched using our traditional tubular moccasin techniques, seen across our classic Weejuns loafers, the soft, and pliable leather has a subtle grain with a slight sheen.

The shoes  rest on our traditional Weejuns lug outsole which is made from 100% recycled rubber, prized for being remarkably lightweight while being tough against all terrains.

 The loafers come in three colourways for Men (Green, Burgundy & Black) and one colourway for Women (Black).

The loafers will retail at £175 & €205 for menswear styles £170 & €200  for womenswear. Styles available to purchase October 2022 at and in select shops.

Products in this article