For a few days the most famous ties in the world, those made by Marinella in Naples, are also made with a fabric made from the scraps of oranges processing. The part that we throw away and that on a large scale is complicated to dispose of. Now it can become a fine fabric. The first time I heard this story was 2013: Telecom Italia, which had been actively involved in startups for a couple of years, had decided to open three accelerators, three spaces in which startups could grow in a few months to present themselves to the market. . One of the three was in Catania and one of the startups, not yet established in fact, was the one proposed by Enrica Arena and Adriana Santonocito. The idea was to create a precious fabric with scraps, transform a problem into an opportunity, make a circular economy starting from two Italian excellences, agro-food and fashion.
It was a terrific idea to tell and Orange Fiber, this is the name of the startup, was immediately successful. But there was no product: it was just an idea on a sheet and had to be transformed into reality. Here their journey began, indeed Enrica’s journey, because Adriana after a while dedicated herself to something else. More than a journey, an odyssey, eight years to reach the finish line. Eight years to go from the laboratory to the industrial plant (learning what an industrial plant is in the field). From the first fabric, handcrafted for the Ferragamo fashion house a few years ago, to the partnership with Marinella based on a real plant capable of producing tons of fabric. How much it is? Fifteen, equal to about 70 thousand meters of fabric.
In these eight years Orange Fiber has continued to collect awards around the world (the last one a few days ago), not only handshakes and applause but also small sums that have allowed the team to move forward. But the prizes were not enough, and the venture capitalists were in hiding: then Enrica Arena asked the network for the money, in 2019 it launched a crowdfunding campaign: 364 people (including the young Alessandro Marinella, the latest generation of the tie company) invested 650 thousand euros to support it; less than two thousand euros each on average but this is not a story of money, it is a story of talent and tenacity, it is the story of a young woman from the south with a revolutionary idea who never gave up.
In the meantime, Marinella’s orange ties sold out in 24 hours. They will be back soon. The world is changing. Consumers push for change. Politics warns him. Even the leaders of the G20 in Rome at the end of October had received an Orange Fiber tie as a gift. Perhaps the most sustainable gesture of the entire summit.