More than 700,000 tons of citrus waste are produced every year in Italy alone. Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena wanted to make use of this waste to create sustainable fabrics. After conducting a feasibility study at The Polytechnic University of Milan, Santanocito and Arena patented the technology and co-founded Orange Fiber in 2014. They presented the first prototypes of fabric from their process that same year. Since their founding, the company has received funding and awards from a number of European brands, NGOs, and government programs. In 2017, Salvatore Ferragamo presented the first fashion collection made with Orange Fiber fabric. Orange Fiber then partnered with H&M for their Conscious Exclusive collection in 2019.
Orange Fiber makes 4 fabric blends: (photos in order listed)
Orange Fiber Twill (69% acetylated cellulose fibers from oranges, 31% silk)
Orange Fiber Poplin (27% acetylated cellulose fibers from oranges, 73% cotton)
Orange Fiber Black Jersey (94% acetylated cellulose fibers from oranges, 6% elastane)
Orange Fiber White Jersey (94% acetylated cellulose fibers from oranges, 6% elastane)
Elastane is a petroleum-based material also known as Spandex or Lycra.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
With the company’s patented method, cellulose is extracted from citrus waste and chemically processed into polymers that are spun into fibers. These acetylated cellulose fibers are then blended with silk, cotton, or elastane to create four fabric types.
Orange Fiber fabrics are likely to receive high marks for sustainability in several categories when compared to 100% silk fabric. Because the fabrics are produced from waste from the Italian citrus processing industry, minimal additional land is required. Compared to 100% silk fabrics, Orange Fiber fabrics are certainly better in terms of animal welfare.
Orange Fiber fabrics are said to have a soft and silky feel. Fabrics can be customised to be matte or shiny and can be dyed, colored, or printed.
Because the fabrics are manufactured from citrus, they contain natural oils with vitamins A, C and E. According to the company, the fabric does not feel greasy and the oils are guaranteed to last at least twenty washing cycles.
Top and scarf made with Orange Fiber fabric from the Salvatore Ferragamo collection
Images from Orange Fiber.