Adina Orboi is a Romanian fashion designer, based in the Netherlands who promotes the values related to sustainability and ethics, both in fashion and in everyday life. There are so many collections per season and she does not want to align with these numbers but wants to have an innovative, creative impact, with a strong message. After all her professional experiences in fashion, the result was her own fashion brand, focusing on the values she promotes. She also works for Osier, a conscious luxury brand, that she has managed to identify with.
“We make a lot of sketches, but what do we mean? Do we want to follow trends or not?” – Adina Orboi
Courtesy of MUSE UM, model: Jurriaan Baggerman1
- Adina, you are a Fashion Design graduate (BA & MA) from the Faculty of Arts and Design, Timișoara, and you have gained a vast experience in the field of fashion. What does sustainability mean to you? Has it also become a lifestyle?
Sustainability is indeed part of my lifestyle. I feel that once you educate yourself about what is happening in terms of environmental and animal exploitation you can’t just separate yourself in your free time. Therefore, I have a plant-based diet and I only buy second-hand or upcycled clothes, when necessary.
Courtesy of MUSE UM, model: Raluca Croitoru
2. Has the pandemic period changed you in any way? Was it a good time for your development as a human being?
First of all, I am happy we gave Mother Earth a bit of rest. It was a good time for all to realize the importance of human interaction and collaboration. Second of all this period has reminded us that we need to rethink our practices and values, not only receiving but also giving back more.
3. Now you work for Osier, a brand focused on ethics and sustainability, which uses a leather alternative, obtained from apple peel. What is the manufacturing process of this material? Also, can’t you say a few more words about this brand? Why is it so closely aligned with your principles?
Osier Studio is a conscious luxury brand based in Amsterdam. The main values are Transparency, Innovative Materials, Made in Europe, and Vegan. It’s aligned with my values because Osier cares for people, animals, and the planet while creating beautiful timeless products.
The apple leather is created with apples that are not aesthetic enough to be sold in supermarkets, they are squeezed for juice and jam, the peel waste is dried and ground into a powder and mixed with polyurethane and additives, the liquid obtained is poured on a recycled cotton material and after it can be molded in different patterns.
Courtesy of OSIER, credits: Laura van der Spek
4. You participated together in the Worth project, in the material innovation section. Can you tell us more about your project?
Our goal for this project was to replace the fossil fuel-derived PU with a much more sustainable bio-based oil derived from algae. It offers an innovative and sustainable alternative to leather and commonly used, plastic-based leather alternatives by replacing fossil fuel with algae-based material. This way our future fabric is transitioning further along the line toward a 100% transparent, sustainable, and circular model, upcycling food waste (apple peels from juice production) and using bio-based materials as a base (algae).
5. Can you list some environmentally friendly fabric alternatives that deserve to be known by both designers and the general public?
It is important to consider what are your options at all stages of development, is there a better alternative? No material is perfect but improvement is made every day and supporting brands and materials that try to do better helps this transition.
Some options right now:
In terms of non-leather materials: Apple, Cactus, Pineapple, Mycelium, Coconut, Corn leather
In terms of down filling: FLWRDWN (Pangaia) is made out of wildflowers.
Fabrics: Tencel, Cupro, Recycled PET, Naia, Seacell, Bamboo Fibre
6. Why is it so important to be ethical?
For me, ethical means being honest and respecting all the beings that you encounter in the process of creating a product. It is maybe easier to imagine yourself from the perspective of the other and how would you like to be treated.
Currently, the fashion industry is a very polluting and damaging field and I do not want to be part of it.
Courtesy of MUSE UM, model: Raluca Croitoru
7. What is fashion for you? How do you see the future of fashion?
Fashion for me is a way of expressing, it is a conceptual way to open a dialogue. The future of fashion in my perspective would create no harm. By that time, we would have learned how to re-use what we have in a very smart way, all the textile material would also be biodegradable on land and water. I also dream of beautiful alternative garments that people would cherish and repair, perhaps keeping them all their life.
8. Do you have any tips for young designers who aspire to adopt sustainable creative principles? Also, for the fashion consumer?
Educate yourself! Doubt everything and take the time to read about the subjects you are interested in. Choose the right, not the easy path.
9. If you were to list one book that changed your perception of sustainability and ethics, what would it be? Why?
For me, it is the stories and studies that activists try to uncover. The visual image of a woman worker that has depigmentation all over her body, the story of a child about his friend who died digging for glitter material for our make-up.
Each time I have the opportunity to return home I always visit Nima Sanctuary, a place where I don’t need words to explain myself. An environment where I am being taught in silence about the huge amount of compassion.
10. Now, you also work for your brand, MUSE UM. Can you tell us about your concept? How was it born?
Muse um is born from the need of expressing my interior self. It is the place where the societal norms are broken and a dialogue is created.
Sustainability and ethics are present in each stage of the creation process. The items are manufactured in our small atelier with only deadstock or recycled vegan fabrics. Each glass bead is sewn gently by hand, this process requiring a considerable about of hours. Because of the limited amount of material available, each piece gains a unique aspect. The perfect imperfections of the items represent the searches for material through the artisans’ hands.
How can the garment be used for creating new connections with our inner self or the external world? Though shape, material, contour, pattern between genders, race, typologies, cultures.
As well as the muse can’t be contained or divided by a norm, the concept is encouraging all types of gender expression. Like this museum is leaving room for each person to have an individual and diverse point of view of what a muse meaning is.
Courtesy of MUSE UM, models: Jurriaan Baggerman and Raluca Croitoru
11. A perfect world does not exist. What small gestures could we make to help build such a sustainable framework?
If I need to choose one characteristic that would be Compassion. Just be honest with yourself in your day-to-day life and do not give up. Even though individually you have the idea you can’t change too much every little gesture gathered collectively it has a big impact.