The textile sector is constantly evolving. It is now well known that the fashion industry is often a source of pollution and that the topic of sustainable and eco-friendly textiles is at the centre of continuous debates, especially in the development of new environmentally friendly yarns. In the field of sustainable fine fabrics, the Made in Italy ‘brand’ is making itself felt with several companies and start-ups producing completely sustainable Italian fabrics.
THE PRECURSORS OF SUSTAINABLE FABRICS
There are many studies and projects being carried out around the world for the development of sustainable fabrics. They are artificial fabrics for which a wide range of food waste or plant fibres serve as the raw material. There are numerous sustainable Italian fabrics being produced and they are used by a variety of international companies.
A pioneer of sustainable fashion is Stella McCartney who, in May 2020, launched a collection of biodegradable jeans made from a sustainable Italian fabric. It is an organic stretch cotton free from microplastics and completely compostable, coloured with a surface dye that reduces the use of water and chemicals.
Another example is Orange Fiber, recognised globally for its totally Italian sustainable fabric. As the name suggests, the brand has patented the first fabric made from citrus fruits. By combining two excellences of our peninsula – fine fabrics and quality agriculture – a light, soft fabric has been created that uses cellulose extracted from the residue of citrus pulp, the waste product that remains at the end of the process for extracting orange juice.
Vegea Srl is another company that, similarly to Orange Fiber, has developed a project for the creation of an ecological and vegetable-based leather, called WineLeather, obtained from the recycling of about 13 million tonnes per year of grape pomace, a waste material from wine production.
Both the citrus fabric and the wine leather were awarded the Global Chance Award by the giant H&M, a highly prestigious prize given annually to five innovative companies in the field of fashion and in particular, of sustainable fabrics.
THE ONGOING SEARCH FOR SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
One of the most amazing recent innovations is a fabric that nobody would have dreamed of: a fine fabric made from marble dust. Mare/Morea is a sustainable fabric whose starting point is marble waste. This is a pure material that when mixed with other synthetic components can be combined with all kinds of fabrics as a very strong, lightweight and waterproof coating.
There are many other companies that are devoting themselves to researching special materials in order to produce new environmentally friendly, sustainable fabrics, without sacrificing the quality and softness of the fabrics. Once again Made in Italy is confirmed at the top of the sector with innovative, recognised projects capable of bringing about real ecological change.
For more detailed information, see the in-depth article “Ratti and the sustainable operation of its business” by Ratti, now one of the world’s leading players in the production of high-end fabrics and accessories.