Orta Celebrates 70 Years of Making Denim
Established in 1953 as a spinning and weaving enterprise, the Turkish denim manufacturer Orta Anadolu, commonly known as Orta, underwent a significant transformation in 1985, transitioning into a full-fledged manufacturing company. This year, Orta celebrates their 70th anniversary. Their endurance and resilience are a testament to the enduring denim heritage that has been meticulously passed down through the generations.
To help us better understand Orta’s storied history, its position within today’s denim industry, and its steadfast dedication to a more promising and ethical future, we sat down with Sebla Önder, Orta’s Chief of Sustainability.
A Brief History of Orta
Orta has its roots firmly planted in the heart of Anatolia, particularly in the city of Kayseri. Historically renowned as an important trading hub along the Silk Road, Kayseri has long fostered the East/West exchange of commodities, cultures, and ideas. A significant metropolitan center in the heart of Turkey, Kayseri was the birthplace of Orta, which was established in 1953 as a small yet ambitious textile enterprise.
In its nascent years, Orta embarked on a journey of growth and transformation. The company’s relentless pursuit of quality craftsmanship and the production of exceptional denim fabrics quickly garnered recognition. Under the guidance of the company’s visionary leaders, in collaboration with their dedicated workforce, and propelled by a fortunate and momentous opportunity presented by Levi’s, Orta ascended to prominence as a master of denim.
During these formative years, Orta became the first establishment in Turkey to sign collective action bargaining in the 1960s, demonstrating its early commitment to fair labor practices and collaborative engagement with its workforce.
In the 1960s, the company started to operate its cogeneration facility, which produces electricity and steam. This meant that they did not need to consume coal in the factory. In the early 2000s, Orta started using organic cotton. During this period, Orta seamlessly incorporated organic cotton into its standard cotton blends without passing on the additional cost to its customers. This strategic choice aimed to support organic cotton farmers, encourage better farming practices, and grow the market for organic production. Orta later extended this approach to premium-quality cotton in the 2010s, reinforcing its commitment to responsible sourcing.
The period of expansion laid the foundation for Orta’s future success. As it continued to evolve, the company remained deeply rooted in Anatolia, where its presence carried significant value for the local community. Since its inception, Orta has consistently shown that it is committed to its people and to the broader community. Care and commitment have, from the beginning, shaped Orta’s journey from a humble textile business in Kayseri to a global leader in denim manufacturing.
Orta’s story is a testament to the power of vision, dedication, and a commitment to responsible practices. Starting from humble beginnings, Orta has smoothly integrated art, technology, and sustainability into its essence. Now, with worldwide reach, Orta leads the way in denim innovation, eagerly tackling new challenges and opportunities while maintaining its heritage of excellence.
Orta and its Current Place in the Industry
Seventy years since its inception, Orta’s manufacturing facility still thrives in the city of Kayseri. Currently employing a workforce of 1,400 people operating in shifts across three rotations each day, Orta stands as a highly valued organization for the local and regional communities. This connection and commitment to the region are integral aspects of Orta’s identity, values that they hold in high esteem.
In addition to its manufacturing facilities in Kayseri, the company has headquarters in Istanbul. Moreover, Orta boasts showrooms and dedicated sales teams located strategically around the globe, including the USA, Italy, Belgium, Hong Kong, Colombia, and Germany. Their global reach allows them to effectively serve a global clientele.
One of Orta’s defining characteristics is their unwavering commitment to sustainability. They have implemented various eco-friendly initiatives, including the use of organic and recycled materials, water-saving technologies, and responsible chemical management. Orta has received numerous certifications and awards for their sustainability efforts, cementing their status as a leader in environmentally conscious denim manufacturing.
When we asked Sebla Önder, Orta’s Chief of Sustainability, about recent Orta innovations, she highlighted three: the “Golden Ratio” formula, Indigo Flow, and ORTANOW.
The “Golden Ratio” Formula
Orta is committed not just to using recycled fibers, but to meticulously researching and perfecting the process. Whether they use recycled fibers, they always prioritize durability, longevity, and aesthetics. Their engineers have developed what they call the “Golden Ratio” formula, which seamlessly integrates recycled fibers into denim without compromising appearance, performance, or durability. It’s a perfect blend of pre- and post-consumer recycled materials and alternative natural components. When correctly applied, the Golden Ratio ensures that Orta’s denim maintains its high-quality look and feel while standing the test of time. This formula embodies their commitment to both physical and emotional durability and reflects their Golden Ratio design philosophy, aiming for a waste-free world.
Indigo Flow represents the culmination of years of research and innovation. The sustainable dyeing process has the potential to reduce water usage by up to 70% during the dyeing stage, prompting the company to adopt it as the standard dyeing method for their newly developed fabrics. With Indigo Flow, Orta is reshaping the norms of conventional manufacturing.
In celebration of their 70th anniversary, Orta introduced the ORTANOW collection, which pays homage to their iconic fabrics. This collection is a tribute to Orta’s seven decades, featuring their first fabrics, their best-sellers, and their truly timeless classics, each reflecting the cultural and design influences of their respective eras. ORTANOW offers a forward-looking interpretation of modern heritage, encompassing contemporary icons, effectively weaving Orta’s past, present, and future into one remarkable collection. To discover more about ORTANOW, click here.
These initiatives (and countless others like them) exemplify Orta’s ongoing commitment to innovation and progress. The company stands at the forefront of the industry on the cutting edge of sustainability and responsibility. Their vision for the future of denim production assures that their mission will persist.
ORTA’s commitment to a Bright Blue Future
Speaking about the future of the industry, Orta envisions a regenerative future for denim built on three key principles. First of all, denim must be exceptionally durable, emphasizing both its visual appeal and premium quality for long-lasting wear. This builds a strong connection between customers and their clothing, allowing for lasting memories. Secondly, Orta is committed to producing fabrics that are recyclable or incorporate recyclable components, advancing their sustainability goals. Lastly, they prioritize crafting fabrics from regenerative raw materials, embracing innovative biology and technology.
Transparency, commitment, and trustworthiness lie at the heart of Orta’s philosophy, guiding their mission to revolutionize the conventional processes of the denim industry. They aim to pioneer new horizons, celebrating the artistry of denim craftsmanship and supporting the human spirit of their co-workers, customers, and consumers. Orta is dedicated to making jeans matter for the next generation by continuously improving their operations, exploring innovative materials and nature-inspired solutions, and addressing potential areas for enhancement in garment manufacturing and the consumer experience. Their approach centers on creating higher-value products rather than simply increasing volumes and production—a path they believe represents the future of denim.
Orta and Bluezone: Unveiling the Future of Sustainable Denim Innovation
ORTA has been a dedicated and esteemed partner of Bluezone, gracing the show with their collections since 2012. The last edition of Bluezone, Bluezone ConneXXion, marked a significant milestone for both Orta and Bluezone. While Bluezone celebrated its 20th anniversary, Orta proudly commemorated 70 years of crafting denim.
Looking ahead to the upcoming Bluezone show, scheduled for January 23rd-24th, 2024, Orta is gearing up to unveil a new collection that will strongly reflect their vision for the future of denim. Bluezone will serve as a platform for Orta to share their aspirations and dreams for the denim industry, reaffirming their commitment to shaping the blue future of denim.