The four-day virtual expo (Oct. 27-30) featured live-streamed and on-demand panels, seminars and interviews with leaders including The LYCRA Company’s Chief Innovation Officer Steve Stewart, Chief Commercial Officer Julien Born, Sustainable Business Development Director Jean Hegedus and Senior Strategic Account Manager Rita Ratskoff.
Stewart explained how consumer research fuels the company’s innovation pipeline. “We specifically look for pain points that can be solved with new or improved products,” he told Angela Velasquez, interviewer and executive editor, Rivet. “Once developed, our teams work closely with our mill customers to commercialize those offerings in fabrics and garments that can be taken to brands and retailers.”
These offerings include LYCRA® Anti-Slip fiber, a new denim seam slippage solution for applications in single-core spandex fabrics with blended yarns that require durable stretch and good recovery power. Using LYCRA® Anti-Slip fiber in the core of LYCRA® dualFX® technology yarn further enhances anti-slippage performance. Combining LYCRA® Anti-Slip fiber and LYCRA® T400® fiber, meanwhile, delivers the high stretch of LYCRA® fiber with exceptional anti-slippage properties and the excellent recovery power of LYCRA® T400® fiber.
“This means that consumers can have super stretch denim that lasts longer and keeps its fit and shape,” Stewart said.
The patent-pending fiber, which The LYCRA Company premiered in September at Intertextile Shanghai, helps maintain garment appearance, wash after wash and wear after wear.
LYCRA® Anti-Slip fiber also helps reduce the risk of garment returns. Jeans are one of the most commonly returned apparel categories purchased online. “The majority of returns are style or fit related, which leads to consumer dissatisfaction with the quality or aesthetics of the product,” Stewart said. “Several of these issues can be linked to seam slippage performance.”
Stewart touched on ways The LYCRA Company is meeting consumer and customer demand for durable, sustainable fashion through innovations like LYCRA® dualFX® technology, which prevents jeans from stretching out, and LYCRA® TOUGH MAX™ technology, which keeps jeans from ripping or tearing. He also highlighted the EcoMade family of fibers across the LYCRA®, COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® brands developed with pre- and post-consumer recycled content.
Julien Born spoke with Kingpins Founder Andrew Olah about The LYCRA Company’s Planet Agenda sustainability framework, which is comprised of three interdependent pillars: corporate responsibility, manufacturing excellence and product sustainability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated two industry themes: sustainability and digitization. “They will change how people think about innovation and force the whole industry to adapt,” Born said.
The retail landscape has shifted dramatically in response to these themes, he added, noting the lockdown-inspired e-commerce boom and the emergence of alternative channels like clothing rental services and second-hand resale channels.
The online shopping surge is driving clothing return rates, which are costly both from a financial and sustainability standpoint, and highlight a need for true-to-size-fitting garments. And the rise of reseller outlets means wear life and longevity are more important than ever.
“It has been an inflection point on sustainability in this industry,” Born concluded. “We look forward to continuing our unique approach to innovation and other unique capabilities we can bring to this market.”
The LYCRA Company is investing in R&D capability and collaborating with external partners to address technical and logistical barriers to garment recycling. Less than 1% of all garments are recycled today. “We agree that garment recycling is a challenge for most blended fabrics... but it can and is being done today,” Jean Hegedus said in an interview with Olah.
The infrastructure to realize a circular economy with garments is still a work in progress, she added, citing the need for improved collection programs and sorting technologies to separate buttons, zippers and other non-recyclable components for recyclable materials. And many garments are mislabeled with incorrect fiber content information.
LYCRA® fiber is generally recycled and repurposed for textile applications like automotive seating, building insulation and more. The company is stepping up efforts to promote the fact that LYCRA® fiber can be recycled for reuse in garments, including denim, and is developing technology to separate LYCRA® from garments at the end of life and re-spin it back into new fiber.
The company is also compiling a list of chemical recycling companies capable of accepting garments with up to 30% LYCRA® fiber content. “This will be a resource for our customers,” Hegedus said. “We hope to have a first edition by the end of the year.”
Rita Ratskoff spoke with Ali Tekin, R&D director at AGI Denim, about The LYCRA Company’s denim solutions. Pakistan-based AGI Denim has produced millions of jeans with body sculpting functionality powered LYCRA® BEAUTY, which uses LYCRA® fiber and LYCRA® T400® fiber in a patented dual-core application as part of the portfolio.
“Fabrics using LYCRA® dualFX® are designed to comfortably shape and sculpt your curves,” Ratskoff explained. “In addition to stretch and recovery, we test LYCRA® BEAUTY fabrics for restraining force and power to ensure the fabrics have enough power to hold and shape, but not too much power to be uncomfortable. Because now more than ever, consumers are saying that comfort is key along with durability.”
Ratskoff also highlighted the EcoMade family products focused on waste reduction. Fabrics using LYCRA® dualFX® technology can be upgraded with GRS-certified sustainable fibers – including LYCRA® EcoMade (partially made from pre-consumer waste) and LYCRA® T400® EcoMade (made from a combination of recycled plastic bottles and plant-based material) – while maintaining the same the fabric performance.
LYCRA®, LYCRA® T400®, LYCRA® dualFX®, LYCRA® TOUGH MAX™, COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® are trademarks of The LYCRA Company.