3 years ago

March 2021

Marina Spadafora

Bags made with grape leather, orange foulards: Italy is on top in sustainable fashion

We live in uncertain and turbulent times, full of fears but also potentials. We need to face them with new, revolutionary and brave ideas: a better future is possible but most of all necessary. Young people are increasingly choosing to study science and technology, they have astonishing intuitions and, thanks to public and private funds, they found start ups that leave their marks. In fashion the common direction is to research and develop sustainable alternatives to conventional materials, which a huge part causes big impacts to the environment. Italy is at the forefront in this sector, counting some of the most important innovations on the market.

Orange Fiber is one of them. Two young sicilian women, Adriana Santanocito ed Enrica Arena, who asks themselves how to reuse the huge quantity of leftovers coming from industrial orange juice production. In partnership with Politecnico di Milano, they developed a polymer coming from the leftovers, which becomes yarn and then a beautiful “silky touch” fabric. Ferragamo has been the first to use it successfully. Now Orange Fiber also offers zero-kilometer production having installed machineries directly in the warehouse of one of the companies producing juices.

Vegea wine leather in Tuscany has started from the huge production of local wine, which is also responsabile for a lot of waste. Here the idea to transform it in a coating material applied to an organic cotton base in order to manufacture totally natural and plant-based vegan leather.

Frumat in South Tyrol follows the same principle reusing the leftovers from apple juice production to manufacture a material similar to paper and leather. Always in this region, in Trento, Aquafil retrieves descarded fishing nets from the sea and trasforms them in recycled nylon. Econyl, the branded recycled nylon has been adopted by maison like Prada and Gucci so that they can avoid sourcing from a non renewable resource like oil and can help in cleaning the oceans. Lastly, Berto denim is an historical italian company, just turning 30 years old, which has invested a lot in R&D. Today is a leader company in denim production including the use of recycled denim, organic cotton cultivated with less water and no pesticides and ozone treatment which naturally sanitizes the fabric and save 85% of water emitting 35% less CO2.

  1. 1. Ferragamo scarf made by orange fiber yarn.
  2. 2. Vegan leather off cut made by Vegea derived from grape waste.
  3. 3. Napapijiri jacket made by recycled nylon Econyl.

edited by  
MARINA SPADAFORA stylist and green activist, she is coordinator of Fashion Revolution Italy, movement fighting for a fairer and more sustainable fashion system.