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Biz & SDGs Experience
Title

Fortunale: organic wool knitwear and natural dyeing

SDGs Coverage
Year of Publication of the Experience: 2019

Abstract

Majra Moda Maglierie company was funded in 1988. From the beginning it specialised its activity in the production of high-quality Italian knitwear using the best textile technology, employing qualified staff and cooperating with well-known tailors and stylists. Textile industry is though one of the main responsible agents for global pollution. That is the reason why in 2015 the company decided to undertake the Fortunale project aimed at producing organic wool knitwear, naturally dyed and delivered to customers in ecological and 80% reusable packaging.

 

The Experience

Is it possible to make fashion respecting environment and its ecosystem? This is the throbbing heart of Fortunale, the circular economy project launched in Cassano delle Murge by Majra Moda company and aimed at producing knitwear only made of genuine Italian natural wool, drawn and realised by specialised artisans and dyed only with natural elements.

The company has been acting in the fashion world for thirty years, presenting lots of women and men collections, reaching such a high quality level, by taking advantage of the best textile technology, employing qualified staff and cooperating with well-known tailors and stylists.

For long time its main customers were major international buyers and buying groups. During these years of national and international experience in their activities, the company experienced in first-hand the polluting aspects of textile industry.

For instance, toxic materials used in dyeing facilities, colour wastes poured into rivers, a myriad of synthetic and plastic materials  wearing every day and throwing away without any recycling possibility. Moreover let's not forget that higher prices of raw materials led to lower productivity, advanced machinery and modernisation, reducing textile products' value. Several meetings with national and international buyers stressed that today's market is asking for a high-quality product, that respects environment and can be also recycled. This new market's need has found fertile ground in the willing of the company to undertake innovative ideas and reach three of the UN Sustainable Developmet Goals, i.e. SDG12 “responsible usage and production”, SDG6 “hygiene and clean water” and SDG17 “partnerships for the Goals”. In particular, a responsible production could enable the company to recycle most part of the material produced, so making it possible to reduce sea pollution, where plastics and others materials are often discarded.

The company challenge begins from a scrupulous and in-depth research for ecological yarns and fabrics, converting the whole production to the circular economy, using biological materials, natural dyes, and re-using worn-down products. Know-how acquirement is the first  necessary step to make ideas become truth.

The second step of the project was looking for specialised suppliers that can meet the project's needs, granting high-quality standards. This selection was neither easy nor immediate, but only in this way, the company could discover few certified institutions producing ecological textile material and natural dyes.

While searching for biological wool, the company realised that the production activity in its surrounding area is very high, but so far there are no companies able to grant for this kind of biological and ecological standards.

All information obtained during research, quickly became debate issue with local representatives  sensitive to environmental problems. The University of Bari, through its projects “Plauto” and “Lane AUTOctone”, started to cooperate with the company, involving local breeders and experts, sensitizing them to the possibility of promoting high quality wool, which represented an added value for culture, economy and society in the past.

Legambiente Puglia also started to work at this project, analyzing the possibility of reusing and recycling knitwear and presenting the company ideas to an audience particularly conscientious about environmental issues.

The Fortunale idea became then truth, named like an atmospheric perturbation of exceptional intensity. It wants to invade fashion world with clothes “made to be worn and thought to be reused”, changing tacks in the fashion field.

Fortunale knitwear is absolutely eco-sustainable and it is thought from the beginning for being recycled until the end of its natural life cycle. In spite of other clothes on the market, whose material often lies unused for great part of their life, a knitwear made of genuine wool allows its fibres to be restored, producing new raw material. The total absence of synthetic fibres leads to a 80% recycle. In order to involve its consumers in this new philosophy, the company will accept old Fortunale knits back, in exchange for a 30% discount on the purchase of a new collection item. More than 200 natural ingredients, such as flowers, leaves, berries and roots coming from ancient dying receipts give to a Fortunale jumper unique colours and nuances through an innovative process using no chemicals  at all, that obtained the precious certification of Woolmark Approved Natural Coloration Technology.

The packaging too is reusable: each Fortunale item is delivered in a recycled paper box planned to become a storage container, made of high-quality materials and also aesthetically pleasing.

Heading to a business growth, the company has presented its project in several meetings and conferences with potential stakeholders and business men. This opportunity to compare to other players allowed the company to develop following steps to make this project take off and start production in all its aspects.

During the presentation part, a number of prototypes were showed, confirming predictions about yarns' and  dying's performance. The 28th of November the crowdfunding go on the Kickstarter platform, where people will be able to buy the first jumpers and support the ideas of Fortunale.

This will represent the first step to test market interest in a product that wants to respect nature and to actively involve buyers in the company vision. Persons willing to buy a jumper, indeed, will also adopt a little tree that will be planted in the surrounding area. Helped by Legambiente, the company will select species and areas particularly affected by atmospheric events or arson.

So far the project Fortunale had no economic implications yet for the company, concentrating now on new goals in the field of fashion, that has not enough awareness about its environmental impact and aspects. The company now is focusing on its priorities: meeting new market's needs. Its owner and his team are now perfectly aware that future industry can and must produce in the complete respect of surrounding environment and transform its wastes in new resources. This little storm, the fortunale, can bring to new positive perturbations in the fashion field and new ways of thinking and acting.

Fortunale
Fortunale is a spin-off the company named Majra Moda Maglierie. Majra Moda Maglierie company was funded in 1988. From the beginning it specialised its activity in the production of high-quality Italian knitwear using the best textile technology, employing qualified staff and cooperating with well-known tailors and stylists. Today the company is converting the whole production to the circular economy, using biological materials, natural dyes, and re-using worn-down products.
«I'm realizing my dream: to product a 100% organic wool knitwear, that respects the nature and consumer health.»
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