From Seamstress to International Sartorial Status

Machine Translation: English
  • Name: Suberis International Ltd.
  • Country / Territory: Italy
  • IP right(s): Industrial Designs, Patents, Trademarks
  • Date of publication: December 10, 2010
  • Last update: September 16, 2015

Company brand name


Anna Grindi began work as an eighteen-year-old seamstress in Tempio Pausania, a small town in northern Sardinia, the second-biggest Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. After years of cutting cloth beneath the shadows of the town’s famous and centuries-old cork trees - Quercus Suber L., the entrepreneurial tailor created a fabric that would revolutionize the clothing industry. Named after the ancient cork trees of Sardinia, Suberis® is a trademarked and much sought after material whose myriad properties and multiple applications are laying new patterns across the world of high fashion and fabrics.

Suberis patent for cork processing method (as submitted in PCT application PCT/IT98/00133, PATENTSCOPE® search)

Research and Development

In 1997, Mrs. Grindi began the research and development (R&D) of a new fabric. Working with a small team of assistants and using only raw materials, the seamstress harvested cork bark, seasoned it over several years, pressed it into millimeters-thin layers, and attached the cork with viscose – an organic liquid – into blocks using cotton, silk, polyester, or hemp.

Thereafter, the blocks were cut into strips as thin as three millimeters, molded, and treated with natural resins such as suberin – a waxy substance from the cork tree that is highly water- resistant. Mrs. Grindi’s inventive process resulted in a new, remarkable fabric with versatile, unique qualities that defy simple definition or categorization.

Suberis – the name of the fabric - is a truly revolutionary material. It is virtually indestructible, waterproof, and fire resistant. It is anti-stains, anti-mites, and anti-bacteria. It is stretchable, breathable and washable at thirty degrees Centigrade. It is as light as silk, as smooth as velvet, and as warm as leather. It can be prepared for personal or industrial use either in the form of spun yarn – in coils one hundred and forty centimeters high - or as large sheets of fabric.

The fabric’s versatility and uniqueness allow for multiple applications. It can be applied in casual, elegant and sporting clothes; for headwear, footwear, and accessories; and in automobile, boat and helicopter interiors. It is also used in furniture and accessorized upholstery and in a variety of other purposes and industries. Moreover, Mrs. Grindi’s fabric is ecologically sound to produce, economically cheap to manufacture, and financially profitable to sell.

Recognizing the potential value of the new fabric and wanting to advance its research, development and marketability, Mrs. Grindi set up a company - GRINDI S. r.l (Grindi) – in order to promote the revolutionary invention while protecting its intellectual property rights (IPRs).

In 2000, Grindi officially presented a range of Suberis clothes at a fashion show held in the prestigious opera and ballet venue La Scala Milan in Italy. The fashion collection caused an immediate sensation, launching the Suberis brand onto the global fashion market.


Understanding that Suberis was indeed a revolutionary fabric attracting world-wide attention, Grindi sought to protect the invention in all the countries and regions in which it planned to sell the product.

After testing and codifying the process for treating the linenized cork sheets, in 1998 Mrs. Grindi filed an international patent application through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).  

The company’s inventive treatment has been granted patents by the European Patent Office (17 countries) and the Republic of Korea while the manufacturing processes for cork has been patented by the European Patent Office (20 countries), allowing the company to expand with confidence and without hindrance into new markets.  

Suberis patent for the process of treating linenized cork (as submitted in PCT application PCT/IT98/00133, PATENTSCOPE® search)

Trademark and Industrial design

In line with its marketing goals, Grindi has taken steps to bolster its corporate image and extend its brand awareness by protecting the Suberis name with a trademark. Suberis is a registered figurative trademark in the EU through the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM), in the USA through the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( USPTO) and in other key markets.


Suberi’s marketability and general appeal is vastly increased not only because of its versatility but also because of its economic and ecological viability.

From beginning to end, the Suberis manufacturing process is pollution-free, using natural, sustainable products in its manufacture, products such as the cork tree bark itself – which does not involve felling trees in order to harvest it- cotton, silk, hemp and resin. Given its environmentally sustainable credentials, the fabric has been anointed “Vegetable Fiber” or “Vegetable Leather”.

Moreover, as Suberis is available both as fabric and coiled yarn and it can be worked by hand or by industrial machines, industry experts believe that it will become the material of choice for designers and fabrics users, over-taking its  main competitor – leather – which is ecologically more costly to produce and  comparatively limited in application.

Business Results

A combination of creativity, technology and nature, Suberis has astutely leveraged the IP system and expanded from its base on an Italian island to markets in Australia, East Asia, the EU, and the Americas. The company received various awards and compliments including that from the Jury at the International Convention Hall in Geneva and from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) – the world’s largest forest certification organization. Suberis continues to exploit new markets and industries for its revolutionary product, seeking to build on annual sales of between US $5 million and US$10 million. 

From a Seamstress in Sardinia

Anna Grindi invested wisely in Suberis, intelligently protected its IP, and astutely expanded its market appeal. The seamstress from Sardinia is now an internationally renowned inventor, a sartorial entrepreneur and head of a company whose headquarters rise above the cork trees of Tempio Pausania.