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Orange Fiber: an artistic way to reinvent citrus

Orange Fiber was born from an idea of two Sicilian women who wanted to combine tradition and innovation. Tradition is related to the presence of citrus fruits, which are typical of southern Italy, and innovation because of the way in which they are used is unusual. The peculiarity of Orange Fiber is to transform by-products of citrus fruits into organic textiles that can be used to make clothes. Not only is this a way to produce sustainable clothing as part of the circular economy, but it is also beneficial to users, as the fabrics made with this technology release citrus essential oils and vitamin C, which are beneficial for the skin. The technology was officially patented in 2014 and today Orange Fiber produces high-quality fabrics for the luxury fashion industry. Every year, a huge amount of by-products are produced from citrus fruits, which has a cost for both the citrus juice industry and the environment. So two Italian women decided to reinvent the way clothes are produced, using the leftovers of something that is eaten every day.

Credit: fruitbookmagazine

But, of course, there is the question of how this technology works. The process starts with extracting high quality cellulose from the leftovers of the citrus industry, which nowadays make up 60% of the original weight of the processed fruit, which in other cases should be thrown away, while through their technology they can be used to feed cellulose fiber production lines. As the technology has been patented, it has been disseminated in the main citrus producing countries with the aim of replicating it and increasing the adoption of this solution in promising markets to scale up the impact. Orange Fiber is internationally recognized as one of the best practices to improve sustainability in the fashion industry and is now involved in several initiatives to push the boundaries of sustainability in the food and textile sectors. It was not an easy process to bring the idea to fruition, but the company was able to raise over 1 million in funding thanks to investments from business angels, public funds and grants. They also launched a crowdfunding campaign on the CrowdFoundMe platform, which successfully closed in 2019. The crowdfunding campaign aimed to increase the production capacity of the company and meet all the requirements of the fashion brands.

Credit: runnersworld

Special Collaborations As the company grew, it began collaborating with important Italian and foreign fashion brands. One of the most famous collaborations was with Italian fashion designer Salvatore Ferragamo. In 2017, Salvatore Ferragamo launched the Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection, the first collection made from citrus fabrics. The collection was launched on April 22 on the occasion of the 47th Earth Day and represents the first appearance of Orange Fiber on the international market of sustainable materials for fashion. The collection had great success; for example, the famous top model Karolina Kurkova wore a total look by Orange Fiber x Ferragamo at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italy in 2017. The dress was embroidered with floral silk organza, which was made using Orange Fiber's organic farming and Orange Fiber citrus fabric criteria. The bag and sandals were also made with this innovative technology.

Credit: Orange Fiber

Another interesting collaboration is that of Orange Fiber with the famous Swedish fashion chain H&M. Indeed, the H&M company decided to make the sustainable fabrics made from citrus by-products protagonists of events and exhibitions. One example is the influencer Chiling Lin, who wore an evening dress by H&M on the occasion of the Global Change Award 2018. The dress was black with a floral print and was made from two layers of recycled tulle fabric and sustainable Orange Fiber Twill, which is 50% orange cellulose fiber and 50% organic silk. H&M has also released a premium collection made only from recycled and sustainable materials, and has collaborated with Orange Fiber to do so: the collection is called Conscious Exclusive. Orange Fiber is just one example of what is possible when you have an innovative idea that combines both sustainability and utility. It's important to think in this groundbreaking way and take a circular economy approach to reduce your impact on the environment.

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Written by Valeria Unich

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