A fabric and leather alternative made of the Fique plant
Oxford University master student Gabriel Moreno created a biodegradable and renewable textile alternative called Fiquetex, made from the Colombian Fique plant, which can be used as a leather alternative, or to make things as carrier bags and packaging material.
Along with his father Alex, a textile engineer, Moreno created the fabric as an alternative to harmful materials such as plastics and synthetic leathers. To make the fabric, only 10 per cent of the energy needed to make the same amount of nylon is used.
Fique is a fibre that can be obtained from several species of Furcraea plants. Indigenous peoples of the Americas have extracted and used the fibres to make clothing, hammocks and rope for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish colonists. However, currently, farmers only use the plant for small fibres. To make Fiquetex, they are paid fair-price to harvest the entire plant, which accumulates more income and employment to rural farmers in Colombia.
Mixed with natural rubber, the fique fibres are processed in a non-woven fabric that is fully vegan and biodegradable. It has applications in different industries including packing, home cleaning products, wrapping for the cut flower market, and vegan leather for the automotive and shoe industry, among others.
Fiquetex was awarded ‘Best Postgraduate Idea’ at Oxford University’s All-Innovate competition.