From their victory in the Trentino Sviluppo and the Smart&Start competitions, and on to Expo Milano 2015, Adriana Santanocito, specialist in Fashion & Textile design, and Enrica Arena, expert in communications and international cooperation, have come a long way on their path to innovating the world of fashion. They have worked to combine aesthetic panache with care for environmental sustainability. And meanwhile, Sicily has become their working base for recovering waste from the citrus processing industry.
What are the innovative elements in your technology?
The idea of Orange Fiber was generated by the desire to innovate the Italian textile tradition and to do something of positive value for our territory: the answer was to use byproducts from the citrus processing industry – where waste products represent a problem for the supply chain – in order to create sustainable and ‘vitaminic’ fabrics to use in fashion. The result is the first fabric made from waste byproducts from citrus processes, an innovation in product and process, in that we recover an exhausted material, not viable for food or drink consumption, and we transform it – using sustainable semi-industrial processes – into a new material for clothing manufacturing.
How did you develop your start-up?
We carried out a feasibility study through the Milan Polytechnic, and from there developed our patent. Then we took part in Changemakers for Expo and won, and also gained a special mention from Tim #WCAP. This made it possible for us to return to our home and set up active collaborative arrangements with various Sicilian companies specialized in citrus processing. Thanks to various collaboration with our company and the incubation offered by Trentino Sviluppo, we got to the prototype phase, presented in preview last September in Milan in Expo Gate. Orange Fiber srl was officially launched on February 5th 2014. Currently we have our legal office in Catania, our home town, and our operative base in Rovereto, in the “Progetto Manifattura” structure of Trentino Sviluppo.
What official recognitions have you obtained?
A few months after launching our project, everything suddenly took off: from Working Capital to Alimenta2Talent, plus the Gaetano Marzotto Prize and the New York Stock Exchange Prize. We also won an award at Changemakers for Expo, from the Milan incubator Make a Cube, and from the Parco Tecnologico Padano, plus financing from Trentino Sviluppo. We’ve ridden a continuous growth curve, culminating in our victory in the United Nations Ideas4Change project last April.
Who are your competitors? What are your strong points from a competitive perspective?
The market for sustainable fabrics is currently in rapid expansion. Many companies are producing sustainable yarns, but we have the advantage of producing a fabric very similar to silk, and therefore strongly competitive in terms of usage options. The cosmetic properties of our fabrics – achieved thanks to the use of cutting-edge nanotechnologies – bring a further added value to our products. We believe that the combination of innovation and sustainability is the winning formula in the new fashion materials market, and that our fabrics fully satisfy the need for green renewal in the fashion industry.