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Time-Honoured Millinery Meets Conscious Innovation With Simon and Mary’s New Range: Cactus Leather

As the fourth generation to join his family’s hat business in Johannesburg, Dean Pozniak has worked to bring sustainable practices to the factory floor. Interested in an alternative to animal leather, his research led him to plant-based leather being made from cactus in Mexico. After some time in development experimenting with this innovative new product, Simon and Mary now launches their first range of hats made from cactus leather: a capsule collection of classic baseball caps and bucket hats in black, beige and cactus green.

“The material works beautifully with the styles we’ve gone for – the colours and shape of the product,” Pozniak says. “We’ve also introduced a new ingot that features our Simon and Mary hat icon.”

Made from nopal (a type of cactus and also the name for its pads), cactus leather is a highly sustainable, partially-biodegradable, cruelty-free material made without toxic chemicals, phthalates or PVC. It requires much less water to farm and manufacture than animal leather does. Both soft to the touch and durable, the potential to be used in the luxury, automobile and furniture industries is tremendous and Simon and Mary are one of the firsts to adopt the material.

The range was shot by long-time collaborator Koos Groenewald of Jana + Koos on a road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town via the Karoo where cacti and indigenous succulents grow readily. With a box of the hats in the car, he stopped whenever he saw something interesting, jumping fences to use cacti as models on the roads into and out of towns like Graaff-Reinet and Prince Albert. He looked for species that showed a bit of character and could wear the hats well.

The Cactus Leather range is an exciting new direction for Simon and Mary. “We want to continue working with it and may look into other products away from headwear,” Pozniak says. The range is released along with the launch of the long-anticipated Simon and Mary online store where the new pieces, along with the rest of Simon and Mary’s classics, are just a tap away. The online store launched on Wednesday 28, October 2020.

Shop the range here.

Cactus leather range credits:
Photography + styling – Jana + Koos
Models – Mother Nature

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