Fabric made from citrus fruit by-product sets new standard for luxury 3.0

Sense and Sustainability go together. This is one lesson that our textile industry, so far famous for being known as the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to oil needs to learn. Innovation is the answer to create sustainable textiles. One such innovation that is newsworthy is the technology developed by Italian Company Orange Fiber.

The idea of creating exquisite sustainable fabrics from citrus juice by-product that would otherwise be thrown away. The vision to give these fabrics a new life, by transforming them into refined, ethereal fabrics perfectly suited to the Italian tradition of high quality and high fashion and establishing a new standard of Luxury 3.0. That’s the kind of stuff that Orange Fiber is made up of.

The story of the Co-Founder and CEO Adrianna Santanocito and Co-Founder and COO Enrica Arena is an incredible tale of innovation, imagination, and creativity applied to sustainability and brought to fruition by women in tech.

Adriana studied Fashion Design at AFOL Moda – Milano, specializing in textiles, materials and new fashion technology. In Sicily, the citrus industry waste amounts to about 700 million tonnes and it occurred to Adriana that it would be possible to reuse these wastes, improving them following the innovative and engaging trends of functional fabrics or cosmetic fabrics (those used for slimming girdles, for instance).

Fabric Made from Orange citrus waste

She personally conducted the research and development phase of the project with the collaboration of Politecnico di Milano. She proposed the sustainable fabric from citrus byproducts for her thesis. She shared the idea with Enrica and – with creativity and will to dare, they started Orange Fiber. In 2013, the innovation was patented and extended to international PCT in 2014.  In September 2014, the first prototypes of fabric from citrus cellulose were presented at the Expo Gate of Milan at the Vogue Fashion’s Night Out. In December 2015, thanks to the funds of Smart&Start by Invitalia, the first pilot plant for the extraction of citrus pulp opened. In April 2017, the first fashion collection created with the exclusive Orange Fiber fabric by a top fashion brand is presented.

“The clothes are not greasy and the skin is nourished – says Enrica – This feature is guaranteed for at least twenty washes, but we are also studying recharging methods with specific fabric softeners”.

the process of converting citrus waste into fabric infographic

It is the first time ever that anybody has developed a technology that can produce a patented material from citrus juice byproducts, and repurposing them to create beautiful sensorial fabrics. Their fabrics are formed from a silk-like cellulose yarn that can blend with other materials. When used I in its purest form, the resulting 100% citrus textile features a soft and silky hand-feel, lightweight, can be opaque or shiny according to production needs.

Given the consumer preference for sustainability in fashion and the growing awareness of environmental impact, especially among the millennial generation, this new luxury does hold a promise for a fashionable future that is sustainable. More glory to this ‘fabric from the fruit’.