Where Function Meets Fashion
Function, Fashion and Sustainability - can fabrics have it all? We explore how fabric mills are innovating with creative solutions, and collaborating across their specialisms to create new fabric qualities that cater to the growing demand for style, sustainability and performance.
The last few years have brought with them a new found fondness for comfort, adaptability and multipurpose products as garment manufacturers witnessed the merger of fashion and performance. Now, as we settle somewhat into this new normal, there is an increasing demand for garments which bring the comfort and performance of activewear styles to everyday apparel.
Fabric manufacturers are answering the call for this, with fibres and structures that bring a sense of wellbeing to the everyday. In addition, industry leaders are looking to become more conscious and clean up their sustainability credentials, particularly with the rising consumer awareness around greenwashing and the growth in demand for sustainable solutions.
As people become more concerned with sustainability, they look to seek out natural compositions whilst retaining technical performance properties.
Recognizing the increasing desire for fabrics that have it all, Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP group explains;
“At LTP we work with suppliers across both fashion and performance, and are able to bring together the best of both worlds with fabrics that combine innovation across different sectors, from sustainability, to performance and fashion handles.”
While many performance based fabrics rely heavily on oil-based synthetics, fashion based mills are bringing to the table their understanding of natural fibres, and partnering with mills producing fibres and finishes that offer enhanced performance to create combinations that deliver function, whilst remaining stylish and sustainable.
LTP have collated some key innovations across fashion and performance in their 360° Innovation book, and here Laura Didžiokienė, fabric and sourcing specialist at LTP, delves into some key consumer and environmental priorities, and the innovations catering to them.
As customers seek out enhanced comfort, fabric mills are carving out new opportunities and are introducing active innovations to create a heightened sense of wellbeing. Fashion orientated sup-pliers like Turkish mill Zeynar, and Portuguese mill Vilartex, are now introducing natural yarns and technical finishes to their collections, that aid in everything from muscle recovery through to temperature regulation.
By including Schoeller’s energear™ treatment technology in their BCI and recycled cotton standards, Zeynar are able to reflect the body's emitted energy back in order to aid in recovery and wellbeing. Applied as a finish, the energear™ treatment is also able to retain breathability, and the natural handfeel of Zeynar’s cotton structures.
As with all living organisms, the human body emits energy into its surroundings, textiles that use energear™ reflect this energy back to the body in the form of far infrared rays (FIR). This additional energy can in turn positively affect the body and its stored energy by increasing concentration, enhancing well-being and helping speed up muscle recovery.
Temperature regulation is also a growing area of innovation when it comes to enhanced wellness fabrics. With everything from the growing concerns around increased temperatures due to cli-mate change, to emerging opportunities in clothing designed to combat menopause induced ‘hot flushes’. Cooling clothing is picking up momentum and offering new opportunities for enhanced wellbeing fabrics.
Portuguese mill Vilartex have been making the most of this opportunity by introducing Spoerry Ice Cotton yarn to their loop back and jersey fabrics. The high twist cotton yarn offers cool to the touch properties, along with a soft and soothing hand feel, breathability and humidity control, all while avoiding synthetic fibres.
Meeting the needs of the conscious consumer, advances in sustainable innovation are ensuring fabric designs remain fashion forward whilst simultaneously becoming more eco. Detailed jacquards are a signature of Italian mill Brugnoli’s recent offerings through their ExtraJacquard and MyNy technologies. Ideal for everything from activewear through to dressier styles, the collections boast intricate lace like patterns, but at the same time has great breathability, thermal comfort and anti-crease technologies. On top of these style and performance attributes, Brugnoli is experimenting with Q-nova fibres as a sustainable alternative nylon. This type of more durable nylon 6.6 fibre is created from both pre and post consumer waste.
Also bringing together fashion forward fabrics with sustainable innovation, Pontetorto have introduced Du Pont’s Sorona fibre to combine the brands structured double knits with technical stretch and 3D crepe designs. On a trajectory to replace synthetics across Pontetorto’s fashion and active offerings, Sorona is created from agricultural waste, made up of 37% Dent Corn, combined with polyester it’s also fully recyclable in any normal polyester recycling stream. Both cutting back on oil based raw materials, and creating the option of a second life. This stands amongst a number of other sustainable alternatives Pontetorto are currently incorporating into their fibres, including rapidly renewable hemp and recycled PET.
When it comes to sustainability, the focus is so often on what goes into creating a fabric. But notable strides are also being made in the sustainability and performance of creating materials, a key necessity when we consider that 92 millions tonnes of textile waste is created each year. As we’ve seen above, there are wide ranging innovations around combining functional performance with natural fibres. With increasing demand for fabrics that combine performance and style, this is a move we need to bolster to cut back on harmful synthetic fibres making their way into fragile ecosystems.
Taking a look at end of life and biodegradability, Italian mill Mectex have created their highly technical stretchy jacquard collection- T-Green range which also seeks to cut down on end of life textile waste. Aware that the disposal of apparel creates a number of social, economic and environmental problems the mill set out to create their so called Bio Soul fabric. Created using a new generation Nylon polymer, not only is the fabric fluorine free and available in stretch and non-stretch qualities, it is 90% naturally biodegradable in 5-years.
Pontetorto and Sorona by DuPont have also made strides when it comes to cutting back on the natural resources used in production, with Pontetorto’s Sorona fabric using 30% less energy in the production process and emitting 50% less greenhouse gases when compared to the production of a nylon from a non-renewable resource. All the while, retaining performance and function on-par with its synthetic counterparts.
How To Get Your Copy of The 360° Innovation Book
All the latest innovations are featured in LTP’s 360° Innovation Book. This resource is available to all existing customers as part of the companies Value Added Services which are strategically developed to provide brands with the tools to drive new and exciting product developments. This suite includes:
Seasonal Trend Analysis for the Sport & Outdoor Industry
Consciously Crafted by LTP
The Sport & Outdoor Apparel Network
Sustainable Development Service
Product Design, Creation and Innovation
For more information please feel free to contact Alex at the LTP Group [firstname.lastname@example.org].
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Eu-rope with bluesign setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam.
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in ten fully-owned factories.