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Orta is Ready to Move the Sustainability Narrative from Scarcity to Abundance

Cotton prices are predicted to spike by more than 2,000 percent by 2050, while water required for manufacturing is set to outstrip supply by 40 percent in 2030. Fashion cannot sustain its current course.

Recognizing the stress on scarcity of natural resources and the need to take further action toward circular models that produce more abundance, ORTA is partnering with Biodesign Challenge on a new prize for BDC 2019. The ORTA Biodesign Challenge is to reimagine denim and further ORTA’s mission to pioneer denim at the cutting edge of biology and design.

As a leading denim brand pursuing sustainable lifestyles and production, ORTA founded its sustainability division ORTA BLU in 2010. ORTA’s sponsorship of the Biodesign Challenge furthers its commitment to a net-positive handprint in everything they do.

“At ORTA, sustainability is ‘business as usual.’ Our aim is to create a more robust denim ecosystem where art (design) meets technology meets ethics, for new infinite possibilities of denim today and tomorrow,” said Dr. Sedef Uncu Aki, who leads ORTA’s denim sales and marketing, product development, R&D, planning and operations.

The Biodesign Challenge tasks teams from top design schools to create denim products, imagine alternative raw materials, and rethink processes using biotechnology. By partnering design students with top-tier scientists, the challenge will provide a new platform for envisioning positive and transformational applications for sustainable denim manufacturing, and alternatives to cotton and other natural fibers. The ORTA Prize for Bioinspired Textiles Processes will be awarded to the team that explores sustainability in the fabrication and treatment of textiles. The challenge asks teams to consider how living processes fit into textile lifecycles, alternative fibers and production. Students will consider how their manufacturing and application affects users, ecosystems, and the environment.

The winning global teams of the Biodesign Challenge will showcase their design models at the Biodesign Summit in New York in front of academic, industrial and design representatives. The ORTA prize will be awarded on June 21 at MoMA in NYC.

Awareness of issues around sustainability and ethics is becoming a key concern for many in their apparel purchases—especially for millennials and younger consumers whose purchasing decisions are becoming more discerning. Often called the eco-conscious or the eco-modern generation, sustainability is a conscious choice. According to the Millennial Impact Report, 87 percent of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. Millennials value science-based solutions for natural processes as a means to biodesign products that are healthier for them and the planet.

In a world where fast fashion still dominates, real positive action is limited unless the industry adopts biodesign. As science and fashion converge, ORTA is ready to lead the global movement to harness an outside-the-box way of creating denim. With its commitment to the Biodesign Challenge, ORTA is ready to explore how innovations in biotechnology can transform denim, the materials we choose, and the processes used. ORTA is ready to move the denim industry from a narrative of scarcity to the reality of abundance.

ORTA BLU functions as the sustainability platform aiming to create a future where denim is designed, produced, consumed and disposed of in radically different ways. Visit BDC is an international competition and education program that introduces students to the intersections of biotechnology, art, and design. Learn more at