WORDS Michaela Stehr PHOTOS AND STYLING JANA + KOOS
Leading South African hat atelier Simon and Mary has introduced a new, sustainable, vegan substitute for leather – made from the unsuspecting nopal cactus – to its sartorial offerings.
Family-run Simon and Mary offers an extensive range of popular hats, but fourth-generation hatmaker Dean Pozniak has always wanted to bring a sustainable alternative to the business’s repertoire. After some in-depth research, which took him all the way to Mexico, Dean discovered a substitute to animal leather in the prickly arms of the Opuntia cacti, known in Spanish as nopal. In addition to being cruelty-free, non-toxic and partially biodegradable, the cactus leather is super-sustainable, as farming it uses much less water than farming animal leather.
The new capsule collection consists of peak and bucket hats in three colours: beige, black and cactus green. “The material works beautifully with the styles we’ve gone for – the colours and shape,” Dean says. “We’ve also introduced a new ingot that features our Simon and Mary hat icon.”
Soft to the touch and very malleable, nopal leather is easy to work with, and there are plans to extend the offering to other fashion items. “We want to continue working with it, and may look into products other than headwear,” says Dean.
The launch of this innovative, ultra-covetable cactus- leather range coincides with Simon and Mary’s launch of a new online store, which offers an excellent one-stop shopping experience.