Apr 09, 2021
by Sidney Pacampara
New Material Upstart Uses Colombian Fique Fiber For Vegan Leather Alternative
by Sidney Pacampara
Apr 09, 2021

As you know, we at FUTUREVVORLD see the development of alternative materials as a key component for any Earth-friendly project. How do we move away from relying purely on animal products? How do we become more sustainable by not settling for harmful synthetics? How should brands even start this process? From Stella McCartney’s use of “mushroom” leather, to PANGAIA’s grape-based leather, many designers, startups, and brands around the world, big and small, are actively addressing these questions – or at least trying.

This includes Gabriel Moreno, an Oxford University postgraduate student who has been able to produce a vegan leather alternative out of the Colombian fique fiber.

Moreno and his father, a textile engineer with over 30 years of experience, own and operate an eco-friendly textile company called Fiquetex, where they offer fully sustainable, alternative materials. They realized the great potential of the fique fiber and how much of it was going to waste in Colombia. Through Fiquetex, the father-and-son team aim to produce fully biodegradable materials which naturally break down in 100 days after being buried. They also support farmers through employment in rural areas of Colombia, and developed a production process that uses 10 percent less energy than plastic materials like vinyl or nylon.

fiquetex leather fique fiber colombia vegan plant based fabric Alex Gabriel Moreno alternative natural

Fique is a natural fiber that grows in the leaves of plants in the Furcraea family. It has been used to make garments, ropes, bags, rugs and more for centuries across South America, with Colombia now the largest importer of the fiber in the world. This however, is the first time we’re hearing of the plant being used as a scalable leather alternative.

It’s a promising feat that’s worthy of recognition. Moreno has worked with the Royal Academy of Engineering in London to help develop Fiquetex’s innovative process. He also received an entrepreneurship award at Oxford’s “All-Innovate” competition.  

With plans to rollout out their fique materials, including the fique vegan leather, in July for industry use, we’ll definitely keep an eye out and update you all on any developments coming from Fiquetex, as well as brands who we hope decide to partner with the startup.

Source: Plant Based News