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Adriana Santanocito & Enrica Arena
CEO & Co-Founder and CMO & Co-Founder respectively Orange Fiber
Is it possible to produce printed orange fibre fabric in the future?
AS & EA: Our fabrics can be printed either using inkjet techniques or screen printing. The precious designs that the Italian designer Mario Trimarchi has created for the Ferragamo Orange Fibre Collection made with our sustainable fabrics by Salvatore Ferragamo have been printed on our fabric, so they show exactly the final effect of printing on our material.
How has been the response from users? Why should a consumer opt for this fabric or a dress designed using this fabric? How do you see its fashion score?
AS & EA: From a brand perspective, we can say that our innovative and sustainable approach applied to the textiles and fashion industry, together with the high quality of our unique fabrics and the possibilities of using them as "normal" material, have caught the interest of designers and production managers. From a consumer angle, we focus on providing information of our supply chain and of the values we believe in, matching them again with a high-quality product developed for their comfort.
The very first fashion collection made with our exclusive fabric was launched on the occasion of the Earth Day on April 22 by Salvatore Ferragamo-among Italy's top fashion brands and world leader in the luxury industry-in a collaboration that represents the shared ethical values underlying the project, shaping the fabric and showcasing its potential for elegant and sustainable applications.
Broadly speaking, the project is catching more and more the interest and the appreciation of fashion industry, as showed by the recent agreement that sees Orange Fiber as a portfolio company of FTL Venture, the global venture capital fund founded by prominent fashion and digital entrepreneur and investor Miroslava Duma that helps new technologies and sustainable innovations create products and brands to evolve the fashion industry and help reduce its social and environmental footprint.
What about the high costs? How do you bring it down?
AS & EA: While proving the market viability of our textile with the first capsule collection made by Ferragamo and developing new potential collaborations, we are also completing the research and development process aiming to optimise the costs of production, scaling up the technology and eventually replicating the technology in Italy and abroad. Italy produces just four per cent of world citrus juice, so that the opportunity to replicate the process is endless and which would allow us to lower the product price, becoming competitive with alternative and more polluting materials such as polyester and cotton.
How far have you progressed? I understand you presented the fabric at an expo in Milan. What comes next?
AS & EA: Following a collaboration with Politecnico di Milano University back in 2012, we developed a process to create a fabric using the leftovers of the citrus transformation industry, valuing just in Italy more than one million tonne a year, that otherwise would have to be disposed of.
We have patented and produced an innovative fabric from citrus waste, thus working on establishing the product as a recognisable and added value material, apt to be used for different textile blends. We have registered the trademark and established partners through the supply chain in the yarn and textile industry.
Thanks to the funding by Seed Money of Trentino Sviluppo (Granted funding on the operational programme FESR 2007-2013 of the Provincia Autonoma di Trento and the support of European Regional Development Fund) and private investors, in 2014 on the occasion of Vogue Fashion's Night Out we presented the first prototypes of our fabrics.
In December 2015 - thanks to the funding by Smart&Start Invitalia (Ministero Sviluppo Economico) - we have opened our first pilot plant in Sicily to enjoy savings in product logistic and to produce the material for our first order.
The first fashion collection made with our exclusive fabric has been recently presented by Salvatore Ferragamo and we have officially entered the operational phase of the project.
Since we strongly believe that "the future is not a place we're going to, but a place we create," we will continue our research & development on our products and new raw materials, working on industrial scale-up and improving our process according to circular economy principles.
Our aim is to establish Orange Fiber as the Italian first mover into sustainable textiles industry through a "green" production from renewable sources, representing a valid and more sustainable alternative to traditional textiles from wood-of which demand is estimated to increase (due to oil and cotton price volatility) -and contributing to create a greener fashion industry.
We will continue to invest in innovation because we believe that it is crucial in the industry's products, supply chains, and business practices as in consumers' habits and behaviour.
How do you see the relevance of this technology for a country like India?
AS & EA: According to a research conducted by the Italian FAO-Food and Agriculture Organisation-in 2012, India ranked fourth in citrus fruit production and generated about 7.8 million tonnes of waste annually while world average is about 119.7 million tonnes.
Our innovative process not only can contribute to reduce the cost and the environmental impact of citrus waste disposal, but it can also contribute to develop a sustainable textile industry in India, with obvious advantages for the local economy.
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