Nov 08, 2022
by Contributor
Onitsuka Tiger’s New Mexico 66 Cactful Looks Quite Sharp
by Contributor
Nov 08, 2022

What do Onitsuka Tiger’s MEXICO 66, the adidas Samba and Birkenstock’s Boston clog have in common? They are Gen-Z’s sneakers of choice and lowkey TikTok stars in their own right. Now, Japanese footwear label is taking its cult-loved MEXICO 66 deeper into the zeitgeist with an eco-conscious construction.

Originally debuted in 1966, Onitsuka’s signature MEXICO 66 model has been reimagined using Nopal cactus-derived leather as the primary upper material. Developed by material company DESSERTO, the updated shoe delivers a soft texture, characteristic of this innovative composition, and allows for lightness of wear. The overall design offers both a retro sensibility and a modern feel.

Five new vibrant custom colors that resemble Mexico’s lively nature, one of the countries that inspired the birth of the Onitsuka Tiger’s iconic model, add a touch of playfulness to the brand’s hallmark side-stripes. And if the cactus leather wasn’t enough, the shoelaces and sock liners are made with recycled materials. Altogether, the MEXICO 66 CACTFUL is said to reduce CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process by approximately 80%.

The exact material makeup of DESSERTO’s cactus leather is not fully known, however. The company’s website states that the material is “65% biobased content.” Ecocult dove into DESSERTO back in August, and included findings on the toxicity of its flagship material, but they were mostly inconclusive. We hope with a greater spotlight on DESSERTO we’ll get greater transparency.

Worn by Japanese athletes at the 1968 Mexico Games, Onitsuka Tiger’s Mexico 66 has consistently served as a low-profile, everyday shoe loved across different subcultures for over half a century. Even the not-so-shy Gen Z are increasingly adopting the silhouette thanks to its trend incubator of choice, TikTok.

According to Highsnobiety, the search word “Onitsuka Tiger” has over 30 million views on the popular short-form video app, with numerous users unboxing the Mexico 66 and its many colorways. A viral video, “liked” almost 13,000 times commented: “I think the next it sneaker after adidas Sambas will be the Onitsuka Tigers.”

Priced at $140 USD, we might need to wait for a little bit to see The MEXICO 66 CACTFUL crowd our feeds as the official worldwide release is January 2023. In the meantime, take a closer look at the sneakers in the gallery above and head over to Onitsuka Tiger’s website for more information.

Author: Sofia de la Cruz