The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. And while the environmental impact of flying is now well known, fashion sucks up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined.
A great deal of innovation is going into crafting lower-impact fabrics. Biocouture, or fashion made from more environmentally sustainable materials, is a growing business. Some companies are looking to use waste from wood, fruit and other natural materials to create their textiles. This is where Orange Fiber comes into picture.
Orange Fiber is the Italian company founded in 2014 by Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena that patented and manufactures sustainable fabrics for Fashion Industry from citrus juice by-product.
We had a conversation with Enrica to understand how is fashion industry becoming more conscious in the way they are producing and what role does Orange Fiber aim to play in this.
Orange Fiber offers the opportunity to satisfy the increasing need for cellulose in the textile sector, thus preserving natural resources.
What differentiate your fabric from the conventional one?
We manufacture the first sustainable fabric derived from citrus juice by-products.
Orange Fiber has the same peculiarities of artificial cellulosic fibers and can be used to create different looks, feelings and types of clothes (dresses, tops, trousers, pochette…) according to the designer's needs.
We are able to manufacture a 100% citrus cellulose yarn that can then be mixed in the weaving stage with other materials. If the fabric is 100% Orange Fiber, it will feel soft and silky to the touch, it will be incredibly light and can be either opaque or shiny. In terms of quality, it can be dyed, coloured and printed like other existing fabrics (inkjet printing and natural colors included).
We have currently developed fabrics such as popeline (adding cotton), jersey (adding elastane) and our twill, either pure or silk blend.
For the ‘Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection’, for instance, we used a 110 dtex filament thread blended with silk, to obtain a silky twill that has the same look, feel and function as its silk counterpart.
Our solution offers the opportunity to satisfy the increasing need for cellulose in the textile sector, thus preserving natural resources. Compared to the existing artificial cellulose fibers, derived either from wood (such as cotton) or from hemp and bamboo, our fiber does not require dedicated alternatives to food consumption or to dwell on natural resources, but it simply reuses a waste while saving land, water, fertilizers and avoiding environmental pollution. Thanks to these characteristics, our Orange Fiber represents a more sustainable alternative to cotton and polyester.
High quality, silky and sustainable fabric from citrus juice by-products. Textile producer_ Orange Fiber. Ph. Credits_ Orange Fiber
Orange Fiber is the world’s first and only brand to produce a patented material from citrus juice byproducts, repurposing them to create beautiful, sensorial materials for Fashion brands. Ph. credits_ Orange Fiber
Can you tell us how Orange Fiber transforms oranges into fabrics?
Following a collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano, an innovative process has been developed. It allows the transformation of virtually more than 700,000 tons of by-product generated every year by the citrus processing industry in Italy - and which otherwise would have to be disposed of with significant costs for the processing industry and the environment - in a high quality fabric capable of responding to the need for sustainability and innovation of fashion brands.
Practically, we process the by-products of orange juice (that is what is left after the industrial pressing of the oranges) in our pilot plant in Sicily, extracting from them the citrus cellulose apt to be spun. Then we send it to a partner in charge of spinning it, and then send the yarn to our selected fabric producer who completes the process of creating our exclusive fabrics.
The more we replace traditional fabrics the more we will contribute to restart the fashion industry and create a greener future for our Planet.
How did the fashion industry and customers respond to the fabric?
Our Orange Fiber has always aroused the interest of fashion brands and customers, in Italy and abroad. Everyday we receive dozens of expressions of interest and - in order to satisfy them - we work hard to increase our production capacity and enhance our process. The more we replace traditional fabrics the more we will contribute to restart the fashion industry and create a greener future for our Planet.
We know that sustainable fashion has a high price. How do you think sustainable fashion brands and companies compete with fast fashion?
In recent years, the increasing awareness by consumers of the true cost of fashion in terms of environmental and social impact, has created an opportunity for sustainable brands and companies that are emerging more and more.
We believe that sustainable fashion brands can win the competition with seasonless fast fashion thanks to their superior quality and lower inventory, using recycled and/or sustainable materials for their collections and packaging, being transparent about the supply chain and working condition of its workers, and maximizing the originality and exclusivity of their products.
We strongly believe that by adopting these strategies sustainable fashion brands will become more popular, thus contributing to preserve natural resources and taking our world beyond the next season.
Do you believe that people are becoming more aware and sensitive to fashion consumption? What change do you see in the future in the way fashion is consumed?
More and more consumers are asking for sustainable products. Consequently - driven by a bottom up effect - fashion brands are gradually changing their mindset by incorporating more sustainable materials and practices, in a circular economy perspective.
We think that in the coming years there will be a major change in the way we relate to clothing and quality, innovation, transparency, environmental and social impact will increasingly affect the way fashion will be consumed.
The journey to a greener fashion industry is still long but the signs of change are really encouraging. So stay positive and do our best!
With our Orange Fiber we are committed to bringing sustainable design and production values to the Fashion Industry, engaging professionals in the sector in the construction of sustainable supply chains and in the adoption of recycled and sustainable raw materials, raising awareness among consumers of their shopping habits and encouraging them to adopt a more conscious and sustainable attitude to fashion.
Top from the H_M Conscious Exclusive Collection 2019 created using Orange Fiber jacquard. Ph. credits: H&M
Stola_double_face - Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection ss 2017
Foulard tag detail - Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection ss 2017
Foulard - Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection ss 2017.jpg
Tell us about your partnership with Salvatore Ferragamo and H&M. They are quite different. One is a high-end luxury fashion brand and another is known for its fast fashion trend.
Faithful to their motto, “Responsible Passion”, Salvatore Ferragamo was the first fashion house to employ Orange Fiber fabrics. The Ferragamo Orange Fiber Capsule Collection was launched on April 22, on the occasion of the Earth Day 2017, in a collaboration that represents the shared ethical values underlying the project, shaping the fabric and showcasing its potential for elegant and sustainable applications.
Our brands have come together to produce a daily wear capsule collection of ethereal and breezy garments, beautifully crafted with the softest fabrics for a renewed user experience.
The high quality of the Orange Fiber fabric, the precious prints by the Italian designer Mario Trimarchi and the stylistic mark of the Salvatore Ferragamo Maison are fused together in an exclusive collection that sounds like a hymn to Mediterranean creativity.
In April 2019 our fabric was included in the H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection, that is the premium H&M collection made only with recycled and sustainable materials. In line with its commitment to a greener fashion industry and always attentive to industry innovations, the Swedish brand has chosen Orange Fiber to create a sophisticated boho-style top, a tribute to the beauty of Nature and a great success for our company.
Many goals have been achieved since the creation of this brand. This leads me to a question: what are the next steps?
Today we are working hard to move forward in the R&D process to the point where we can scale up the technology and finalize the production of a new fabric collection, with the long-term goal of optimizing production costs. This is crucial to develop new potential collaborations with fashion brands that share our values and eventually replicate the technology in Italy and abroad, as we have extended our IP to the USA, and it is pending in the EU, India, Brazil and Mexico.
For the future we hope to establish ourselves as the first Italian mover in the sustainable fabrics segment through a "green" production of cellulosic fabrics from renewable sources and to create a highly recognizable textile brand for its commitment to environmental protection and transparency. Furthermore, we want to expand our production outside of Europe in order to increase our impact and minimize our logistics, keeping in mind our sustainability goal.
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