Onitsuka Tiger Introduces Mexico 66s Made From CACTFUL, A Sustainable Plant-Based Material

Sustainability and innovation go hand in hand, especially when we’re talking about fashion; with more research into alternative materials, how to manage wastage, and ways to improve the processes involved in refining them, we’re able to come up with more environmentally-conscious means to product the same products. This is exactly the case with Onitsuka Tiger, as they present their most iconic sneakers, the Mexico 66s, in its most sustainable form yet. 

The MEXICO 66™ CACTFUL™ sneaker is a new version of the original signature silhouette, made using a cactus-derived material that represents more than 20% of the shoe’s upper. 

This new plant-based vegan leather was developed in conjunction with DESSERTO® engineers, and is one that uses Mexican cactus fibres as the raw material for the shoe’s upper, while utilising a production process that further reduces its environmental impact.

The CACTFUL bio-material does not use harmful chemicals such as phthalates or PVC (polyvinyl chloride), consumes less water during its production, and also reduces CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process by approximately 80% compared to conventional genuine leather. To meet the quality product standards of Onitsuka Tiger wear, it’s also highly durable and resistant to UV rays.

In particular, the Nopal cactus is used, and is a variety found in large numbers in its home country of Mexico, which coincidentally inspired the birth of the Mexico 66 shoes too — introduced in 1966, the shoe model was most notably worn by Japanese athletes at the 1968 Mexico Games.


As you can tell, there’s quite a jubilant series of colours on display for the MEXICO 66™ CACTFUL™ collection. It debuts with five custom colours that enhance the supple but durable texture characteristic of the new material, with tone-on-tone designs that feature bold and pastel shades often difficult to express with genuine leather. The colours are: white, yellow, green, purple and blue. 

At the same time, expect a comfortable fit thanks to a well-designed midsole and the lightweight cactus-derived material. In addition to the main upper portion of the shoe, other parts such as the sockliner and shoelaces are also made of recycled materials to further the sustainable cause. 


The Onitsuka Tiger MEXICO 66™ CACTFUL™ launch event was held at the Mexico Embassy on 27 October 2022.

It will be available at Onitsuka Tiger flagship stores in 15 countries worldwide, from January 2023.