Denim specialist Orta is turning 60. The company aims to launch cool new projects and products, as well as making social issues and sustainability the core element of all of its activities.

Orta Anadolu, specialist Turkish denim manufacturing company, part of the Karamanci Holding, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this September in Istanbul with a huge party involving approximately 600 international guests.

Founded in 1953, Orta initially produced cotton fabrics, but from 1985 has been manufacturing and selling denim worldwide to top jeans and fashion brands. “Much has changed through the years," comments Ebru Debbag, sales marketing director, Orta. “Ten years ago our client base was made up of about 60 companies, mostly jeanswear brands. Today we have around 500 clients from different segments and each of them require a custom-made service. In the last eight years even more has happened since jeanswear brands have grown to become more fashion-driven. Also, every fashion, sportswear and activewear brand is offering denim, too."

Orta has therefore increased its product offer. "Twenty years ago we sold about 20 fabric articles," adds Ibrahim Günes, product development manager, Orta. “Today we launch around 200 new fabrics per year (about 140 for F/W and around 70 for S/S) plus tests and exclusive products devised for single markets and customers to a total of about 1,300 articles per year."

Orta also provides special services such as the Denim Academy, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The Denim Academy offers a tailor-made training program which explains to customers all of the phases of denim production and how to best use denim fabrics. Additional support includes Denim Service launched in 2006. "We established this in order to test existing and new products, and better understand the problems our customers might face when manufacturing garments," continues Günes. This division and service works as a productive laboratory with a capacity of over 35,000 units that are sewn and laundered annually. "We're proud to develop innovative finishes and fashion silhouettes for Orta fabrics."
Orta Kayseri factory
Orta Kayseri factory

The company also develops special capsule collections for every season, all of which are designed by denim experts. Past collaborations included Adriano Goldschmied, Piero Turk, Antonio Di Battista and Dario Marangon. More recently they have collaborated with Denis Gusatto and his wife Benedetta, Claudio Toson and LA-based store Them Atelier, as well as other international specialist vintage dealers. They also own an archive of vintage items (Archive 5374) and a library of products. Both are available to be examined by customers. The library hosts more than 500 fabrics. “You cannot simply offer legs of fabric. You have to tell a new story for every family of products," comments Ebru Debbag.

Their new Daredenim selection launched for F/W 2014/15 includes denims designed for sports which contain curative and cosmetic properties. In the future, denims could be thermo-regulating and interact with the wearer, a form of wearable technology.

Also, newly released in Los Angeles was "The Stripper”, a series of great looking, body-shaping women’s jeans that use Orta’s Fitswell stretch denim which is built and tested for outstanding performance and recovery. Orta have also developed a collaborative research project in conjunction with Istanbul Technical University on “Some Comfort Properties of Denim Fabrics from Nettle Fibre”, which was presented at ICNF2013, the first International Conference on Natural Fibres, held in June, in Guimarães, Portugal.

Orta Kayseri factory
Orta Kayseri factory
In 2010 the company launched "Ortablu", a platform focused on a series of sustainable, social and cultural issues. "Our work does not end with the geographical boundaries of our offices and factories," Explains Debbag. "It really begins when the cotton we buy to make our denim is picked in the fields. We need to watch out for poor labour practices, the unsafe use of pesticides, and excessive consumption of water. It would make little sense to be a clean factory that uses unsustainable cotton. For this reason, we joined BCI (Better Cotton Initiative)." From September 2013 they will employ the first made in Turkey BCI cotton together with the Sanko group.

Orta has also supported Turkish villages whose inhabitants live in conditions of poverty by providing them with fabrics and information about how to produce and promote artisan-made products. "Our social and sustainable missions aim to empower the people and protect the environment," explains Debbag. "Another future objective is to integrate the Orta Blu philosophy in all of the products we offer." For this they want to change their Orta logo to the Orta Blu logo, which symbolises their higher commitment in terms of preserving and saving water and energy when producing their fabrics and avoiding the use of pesticides as well as supporting socially helpful causes . Though they will use both their own Orta logo and ortablu logos “Some of our ortablu projects have already helped some people facing difficulties making their dreams come true. By pursuing the ortablu philosophy in all our products we can help to make the world become a better place." Debbag continued "For this we aim to increase Orta’s efforts in resource management and conservation, launch social missions, promote the up-cycling concept and create an online community that is driven by a global interest in fashion, jeans and style, all under the umbrella of a sustainable lifestyle," In addition to this, Orta has worked on projects such as the Protect Water project and the Aksu Denim Recycling initiative, as well as with the Buldan Traditional Weavers. Debbag explained that the company have a yearly charity budget of 0.3%, which is often additionally also partially sourced from its marketing budget, which is about €3 million per year.

Recently the company has sponsored a jazz festival held in Istanbul. "The world has changed," continues Debbag. “Look at what is just happening all over the world...By acting differently - starting with the way we work and support the environment, other people and everything around us - we can make this world a better place."

Founded: 1953
Denim production: from 1985
Productive units: Kayseri (Turkey) and Bahrain
Head offices: Istanbul
Showrooms: Vernon, Los Angeles, New York (US); Treviso (Italy)
Representative offices: US, Belgium, Italy, Australia, Colombia, Japan, Tunisia, Bangladesh and soon Hong Kong
Productive capacity (per year): 75 million metre (65 million metre from the Kayseri main productive unit and 10 million metre from the Bahrain company); by 2015 they expect to increase the Bahrain productive capacity in order to reach a total yearly productive capacity of 85 million metres). Out of this total they will produce 5 million metres of flat fabrics in Kayseri
Employees: 1,761
Main markets: Europe, US, Turkey
Turnover: €200 million by end 2013