Leather from plants

Fique plants

It’s the latest thing. They can now  make vegan leather from plants.

First of all what is vegan leather? Vegan leather is an ethical and cruelty-free fabric that mimics the look and feel of genuine leather. Vegan leather is also referred to as faux leather, polyester leather, or pleather. While genuine leather is made from animal hides, vegan leather is usually made from two synthetic plastic-based materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. While this avoids the cruelty of using animal hides, the plastic-based materials are not biodegradable, so they may contribute to landfills and plastic pollution.

But now there are companies making vegan leather from plants. One company uses cactus. This cruelty-free material allows the brand to cut down on water-use. Another company uses the fique plant, grown in Colombia. The plant has long been used to make fibers and other materials and now can be used for vegan leather.

Gabriel Moreno, an MSC student at Oxford University in England, started up Fiquetex with his father over shared concerns for the environment.

“Fiquetex’s vegan leather reduces the need for cows, which produce 100kg of methane a year per cow and require a substantial amount of land. Our vegan leathers provide a cruelty-free alternative to harming animals or damaging their habitats in terms of pollution and waste both on land and in the sea,” says Gabriel. “We will help provide employment in rural areas of Colombia where the Fique is grown, giving local farmers the skills and resources needed to produce and work sustainably,” he added.

Vegan leather can be used for more things than clothing. It can also be used to make wallets, handbags and purses, and even upholstery. The vegan leather industry is expanding. This year alone saw the release of vegan leather by major brands, including H&M, Weekday, and Hermès. Materials range from cacti to mushrooms and hemp, but fique is new. We look forward to hearing more about Fiquetex in the future.