FICOPROARG Umbria

FICOPROARG Umbria Project

A textile plant uses natural dyes that are protected by clay

 

Besides being famous for its climate, landscapes, and well-being – given the presence of so many spas – Umbria is also a great place to shop for unique clothing.

 

In fact, Umbria is known by two names: not just "Italy's green heart" but also "Cashmere Valley", because this region is full of businesses specializing in knitwear made from this top-notch, luxury fibre.

 

Quality and sustainability - the defining characteristics of these products - are also supported by regional policies that are financed with European funds.

In this case we are talking about EAFRD, the EU Fund which finances projects that specifically guarantee the sustainable management of natural resources with attention to climate trends, and encourage the well-balanced development of rural economies and communities, without overlooking work-related issues.

 

FICOPROARG is an extraordinary and rather unique project which aims to enrich a sector that has managed to reinvent itself, by putting age-old knowledge to use.

 

FICOPROARG was created through a public-private partnership which includes the historical University of Perugia (established in 1308, it's one of the oldest universities in the world). The project's aim is to recreate vegetable dyes which were once used to colour wool, by utilizing and improving on an ancient process to enhance quality and colour stability.

 

The project involved establishing a textile plant in which vegetable pigments are used to dye wool and, of course, fine cashmere. The project began with cultivating vegetable species containing natural dyes, transforming them into photostable preparations, and then evaluating the products' impact on human health through sophisticated studies.

 

The results have been excellent: a new agronomic know-how has emerged for the cultivation of plants that are rich in biologically active flavonoids, such as Reseda luteola, Anthemis tinctoria and Solidago virgaurea, as well as indigofera alkaloids like Isatis tinctoria (also known as Guado). And new approaches to conserving pigment extracts have also been developed, so that items dyed with these pigments can be available in any season, regardless of when these pigment-producing plants are harvested.

 

Furthermore, the transfer of pigments from the colour bath to cashmere fibre during the dying stage has been made possible through the use of special synthetic clays, and new colouring protocols have been applied to develop new and "greener" dying processes for fine yarns which are completely safe for human health. These aspects were verified by highly sophisticated studies on cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and gene expression markers.

 

Both the new pigments and the production process itself are currently being patented by this emerging company, which intends to market its products to the most advanced textile companies in the area. Which will make Umbria cashmere even more special.


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