Oxford University postgraduate student Gabriel Moreno recently created vegan leather made from the Colombian Fique plant and natural rubber latex. The material is part of eco-friendly textile company Fiquetex, founded by Moreno and his father, Alex. Fiquetex produces 100-percent sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable fabric and leather products from the Colombian plant. 

The father-and-son team spent five years researching and designing their Fique fabrics in an effort to create a fully sustainable textile alternative to environmentally damaging materials such as plastic and synthetic leather. Their Fique fabrics use just 10 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of nylon. Its unique circular economy process also means the material will biodegrade in just 100 days after being buried in the ground once its useful life is over. In developing and patenting the Fiquetex process, Moreno also worked with the Royal Academy of Engineering in London to perfect their innovative process.

Award-winning vegan leather startup

Moreno, who is currently studying Latin American economics at Oxford, recently received an entrepreneurship award at the university’s “All-Innovate” competition, which boosted his confidence in his startup. “I’ve always been passionate about how we can live more sustainably today to secure a healthier and greener future for the planet,” Moreno said. “Companies from H&M to Forest Green Rovers football club are looking for new sustainable alternatives. Countries such as China and Canada are banning single-use plastics and we have the environmentally friendly and economical solution the world needs.”  

Moreno plans to launch Fique Fabric and Fique Vegan Leather in July for industry use worldwide.

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