MILAN — The Salvatore Ferragamo group is retracing the late namesake founder’s steps in developing collections with innovative materials.
The Florence-based company is launching a capsule collection made with Orange Fiber and timed to coincide with the 47th edition of Earth Day on April 22. The patented Orange Fiber is the first fabric in the world made with citrus fruits.
Salvatore Ferragamo famously patented procedures to create leather substitutes, uppers in raffia, soles in galalith or glass to cope with wartime restrictions and the shortage of materials.
For this project, the company is using solely sustainable fabrics of natural origin and is the first brand to use the Orange Fiber — a twill that looks and feels like silk.
Ferragamo asked free-hand architect and designer Mario Trimarchi, who won the international design award Compasso d’Oro last year, to create exclusive prints that would have a strong Mediterranean feel in sync with the origins of the fiber. This resulted in designs that echo a metaphysical Sicily, the island’s nature and fruits and drawings of floating clouds and flowers, at times in an abstract version. Ferragamo’s team created a collection of shirts, dresses, trousers and foulards.
Orange Fiber is an Italian company founded in 2014 by Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena that creates sustainable textiles for the fashion industry from citrus juice byproducts. Santanocito came up with the idea of using what remains after squeezing oranges for juice, which amounts to more than 700,000 tons of byproduct in Italy alone.
While working on her dissertation in fashion design, Santanocito decided to develop the project with Enrica Arena, an International Communication and Cooperation student, with the support of the Polytechnic University of Milan. The students filed an Italian patent, which was extended to international protocol in the U.S., Brazil, India, Mexico and the European Union.
The textile is made from citrus waste and can be used for different blends. The first prototypes, a lacelike fabric blended with silk and another blend more similar to satin, were presented in 2014, during Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out. The first part of the process takes place in Sicily, where citrus cellulose is extracted, then the raw material is sent to a Spanish spinner partner and finally it comes back to Como, Italy, where another partner transforms it into an exclusive textile.
The prototypes produced are similar to silk, with a soft, drapy, light feel. They can be colored and printed as traditional textiles — ink-jet printing and natural colors included.
Compared to existing man-made fibers from cellulose, either from wood or from hemp and bamboo, the orange fiber does not require dedicated yields alternative to food consumption, but reuses a waste product, thus saving land, water, fertilizers and environmental pollution.
Its headquarters are based in Catania, Sicily, and a pilot plant is placed within a citrus juice extraction facility in nearby Caltagirone. There are also headquarters in Rovereto, in the northern region of Trentino.
The goal is to replicate the plant in Italy and outside the country.
In February, the company won the Global Change Award — H&M Foundation, and was granted 150,000 euros, or $141,066. Launched in 2015 by H&M Foundation with the goal to finance ideas that can help protect the earth’s natural resources, the company was one of the five winners from more than 2,700 projects coming from 112 countries.
Sustainability is increasingly a priority for the Camera della Moda, which, in collaboration with Eco-Age, founded by Livia Firth, last month launched The CNMI Green Carpet Talent Competition 2017, inviting emerging designers to create a bespoke look that celebrates Italian craftsmanship and design as well as social and environmental values. The designers are challenged to incorporate the Green Carpet Challenge Principles of Sustainable Excellence, Eco-Age’s sustainable guidelines, into the looks.
Five finalists will be invited to attend The Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia 2017 at the La Scala Theater on Sept. 24, during Milan Fashion Week. The winner of The GCC Awards for Best Emerging Designer will be revealed on that occasion and the designer will have the opportunity to secure a retail partnership.