Performance Days: The Key Fabric Trends, Developments and Innovations
At this year's show it’s all about Better. Better processes, better synthetics and better naturals in the pursuit of carbon neutrality and potential sustainable gains
Performance Days continue the successful hybrid format with a 360° sourcing experience dedicated to functional fabrics for the Winter 2024/2025 season. The physical show took place on 3-4 November in Munich at the new venue MOC with 280 exhibitors showcasing to 2433 visitors. In tandem, the digital platform “The Loop” bridged the gap to the physical show. The platform enabled virtual attendees to access the digitised performance forum and search 385 digital suppliers in a database of over 13 thousand fabrics and trims. Nearly 10 thousand swatches were requested in the platform.
Following the increasing demand for digital sourcing solutions and further blurring the boundaries between the digital and physical show, Performance Days also increased their 3D fabric and trim library by creating even more photorealistic 3D renderings, video animations and U3M files (compatible with most 3D software). Laura Didziokiene, Fabric sourcing and Innovation manager at LTP Garment states
“The digital materials are a logical extension to the physical fair, it’s great to see more 3-D ready swatches as we increasingly digitise the design process.”
With LTP in attendance, here we highlight some of the leading trends, developments and innovations that inspired us from this year's show.
Progressive Updates For The Journey To Carbon Neutrality
This season sees the focus topic of Carbon Neutrality, which debuted at the Munich, Portland and New York fairs earlier this year, enter the second stage of the roadmap towards CO₂ neutrality. In combination with the Higg Index, the aim is to make it possible to achieve a better assessment of the CO₂ balance in the production and development of new materials and fibres showcased in the forum.
All suppliers featured in the “Focus Topic” category certify initial values in CO₂ reduction. This is designed to help create more transparency and comparability in the industry. But it’s a complex task according to organisers, not least working out a fair comparison between synthetics and natural fibres whilst balancing the technical specification. For this reason the Performance Days team separated out into four categories for review. Firstly, synthetic fibres with variants made of recycled polyester, recycled nylon and polypropylene. Secondly, natural fibres such as Tencel™, hemp, Naia spun fibre or their recycled natural fibre variations. The third category is chemical dyeing process, waterless processes such as spin-dyed or dope dye yarn. And then there’s the ones that do it all, the last category is made up of fabrics that combine several variations e.g. made from garment waste, whilst keeping the original fabric colour resulting in reduced water wastage, carbon emissions and energy use.
Speaking of the new approach to fabric selection, Marco Weichert, CEO of Performance Days states
“We wish to enable our visitors to make the best decision in terms of material selection, but also in terms of CO₂ neutrality and ultimately also in terms of textile recyclability.”
Organisers suggest the additional performance codes such as “CO₂ neutral” and “CO₂ reduced” are designed to help visitors make more informed fabric choices.
Suppliers rise to the challenge with their latest fabrics submitted to the jury. Payen highlight Oxygene Recycle, a fabric whereby all components are produced in 3 factories in Ardèche, France. This results in a fabric with a very low carbon footprint. The supplier indicates production of 1m2 emits less than 1 KG of CO₂ equivalent.
In the search for carbon reduction suppliers are also looking to simplify fabrications, processes and reduce multi-stage creation cycles such as spinning, weaving and dyeing, printing etc. All with the aim of saving as much resources as possible. Lowering consumption of water, air, energy and gas, as well as shortening lead time.
The curated item by Tough Knitting Enterprise Co., Ltd. is a prime example of this. The nylon is dope-dyed, knitted with 3 blended colors, utilising waterless technology. The development of the fabric is strategically designed to reduce the environmental impacts of textile manufacturing, according to the supplier. The fabric is extremely soft due to the master-peached process, abrasion resistant and double-faced.
Trim suppliers are also innovating in this space, looking to work to reduce processes whilst also thinking about the garments end-of-life. J-long for example are creating transfers from 100% 100%PES. If the garment is also polyester this negates the need to detach the transfer for end-of-life recycling, meaning the garment can be recycled as one piece.
Suppliers are also increasingly utilising processes such as dope dyeing, solution dyeing, and also waterless printing in search of more efficiencies in their workflow.
While turning plastic bottles into performance fibres is well-versed, suppliers innovate in this space to create the latest recycled polyester fabrics beyond bottles. Shortlisted as a curated item, SAYA RSCUW provides recycling possibilities to fabric offcuts and scraps from garment production. The supplier suggests up to 30% cutting scrap waste per yard is discarded during garment manufacturing. This waste is turned into a new 100% PES performance fabric with comparable to bottle recycled fibre prices.
The supplier also showcases their latest innovation in-work, SAYA Garma which aims to recycle pre and post-consumer synthetic garments into synthetic recycled fibres to close the loop on worn garments. The supplier has developed an artificial intelligence-based machine which will pre-sort garments by fibre and colour for higher efficiency in mechanical or chemical recycling. Watch this space for SAYA Garma commercialised.
Elsewhere, Rapalloto S.P.A. Limited present LALA, the suppliers 100% recycled fabric created from recycled nylon and recycled spandex, creora® regen. The supplier suggests regen performs as well as virgin spandex despite being made from 100% recycled spandex made from reclaimed waste. Rapalloto S.P.A. Limited sight a study done by a third-party verifier (Networks Y, which is a Korea-based LCA consultancy) showing creora® regen spandex brings down CO2 emissions by two-thirds, when compared to production of virgin spandex. The fabric features high elasticity and a soft hand feel.
Recycled Car Tire Nylon is also increasingly common across the show floor for multiple end uses. IBQ Fabrics present a range of fabrics in this quality, one of which was selected as a curated item. Dubbed “Parrot” the fabric designed for mountain pants, and jackets is a state-of-the-art material, crafted from the composed of a polyamide thread obtained from the tire's chemical recycling (pyrolysis) at the end of their useful life. As well as the low ecological impact of the yarn and the oil extracted to synthesize the polyamide, other raw materials are generated that can be used for different applications without any waste during the process.
Recycling was also a hot topic on the stage, as LTP’s Business Development Manager Jurgita Sirvydaite together with other panelists discussed circular solutions in the textile industry. LTP attended the panel discussion to outline their latest pilot project which sees mixed composition fabric cutting waste recycling together with Rittec.
But don’t think recycled fabrics are plain or simple. Bold surface colours, multicoloured reflective and retro patterns created visual impact at the trend forum.
Hemp emerges as a must-have fibre as suppliers search for better naturals. Hemps inherent qualities such as the fibres ability to repel the most water in comparison to other natural fibres make it an ideal solution for new season developments. Hemp is also said to be an extremely sustainable natural fibre due to its origin from an anti–bacterial plant that requires neither pesticides nor chemical fertilisers during its growth and consumes little water.
Leading the way and winning the Eco Performance Award, Pontetorto Spa showcase their latest innovation dubbed 9203/M/RC. The fabric is a blend of 23% hemp, 69% recycled polyester and 9% recycled elastane. The material is said to boast a low CO2 footprint during production and focuses on low release levels of microplastics into the environment. Part of the suppliers Techno Stretch organic series, the fabric features excellent 4-way stretch, elasticity, fast drying and optimal breathability.
Another innovation in this space comes from A. Sampaio & Filhos. Selected as a curated item, the suppliers AGRALOOP™ BIOFIBRE™ is a technology which transforms low-value natural fibre, including food-crop waste such as hemp, into a high-value scalable new natural fibre called BioFibre™. For 67908, the supplier has chosen to blend Hemp agricultural waste with organic Cotton and recycled Cotton for a fabric the supplier suggest showcases the best of waste whilst taking the next step toward a circular economy.
Accessories suppliers are also taking advantage of hemp, Bodo Jagdberg have crafted recycled hemp buttons.
Suppliers are increasingly seeing waste as a precious commodity and the result of this philosophy was omnipresent on the show floor. Trim suppliers showcased their latest innovations crafted from materials made from food-derived waste, a trend we documented last June. Bitzer + Single GmbH sustainable Faux Leather Patch is a prime example. Made from grape leftovers from winemaking, vegetal oils and natural fibres from agriculture.
Another innovation in this area is Bodo Jagdberg’s Cactus Leather patches. The vegan leather is made of fresh cactus. The plant is easy and fast growing whilst requiring little water. The harvesting process consists of cutting some of the leaves rather than digging up the whole plant. The fibre is combined with a bio-based polyurethan for a resilient finish with a leather-like hand feel, but absolutely cruelty-free.
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and organic & lifestyle apparel. LTP was established in 1991 and now spans two continents - Europe and Asia with 6 fully owned factories. Our European Innovation Centre is located in Kaunas, Lithuania and our Asian Innovation Centre is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We have a bluesign partner factory in all 5 countries where we operate (Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Vietnam).
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in eleven fully-owned factories.