Textile World March/April 2022

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Piana Technology Investment Roundup Executive Forum: MAS Holdings ■

March/April 2022 Founded 1868

Under One Roof Techtextil North America/ Texprocess Americas

Propel LLC Solving Problems Using Technical Textiles

Quality Fabric Of The Month Noble Biomaterials’ Circuitex®


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March/April 2022 TextileWorld.com

A

Founded 1868

Publication

Features 10

Executive Forum: Solve Problems, Empower Women MAS Holdings’ Pilar Diaz and Thanuja Jayawardene discuss the company’s femtech innovations.

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Using Traceability To Drive Business Cone Denim President Steve Maggard discusses sustainability and traceability one year after the company partnered with Oritain.

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Show Preview: Techtextil North America/Texprocess Americas The full spectrum of the textile industry will unite at the Georgia World Congress Center May 17-19, 2022.

24 Textile Industry Roundup ON THE COVER: Propel LLC, Pawtucket, R.I., uses technical textiles to solve customers’ problems. Its smart integrated shirt with physiological monitoring capabilities was developed for the U.S. Navy.

Departments 4

From The Editor

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News

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Business & Financial

8 Yarn Market

The textile industry continues to expand with new products, plants, equipment, and activity in mergers and acquisitions.

30 A Textile Education, Circa 2022 Part two of Textile World ’s two-part feature on textile education focuses on alternatives to the college and university offerings.

Nonwovens/Technical Textiles 18

Piana Technology: From Textile To Technology Focus The strength of 440 years of history at Piana Technology inform and support the company’s future.

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Intent On Solving Technical Problems Propel LLC is focused on using technical textiles as problem-solving tools to meet its customer’s challenges.

Knitting/Apparel 33

36

People

37

Calendar

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Quality Fabric Of The Month

H&M Versus Zara: Are Premium Fabrics On The Rise? A recent report compiled by Lectra used Retviews automated benchmarking solution to examine successful strategies in a changing fast-fashion industry.

VOL. 172, No. 2 / TEXTILE WORLD (ISSN 0040-5213) is published bimonthly by Textile Industries Media Group, LLC, PO Box 683155, Marietta, GA 30068, and incorporates Modern Textiles, Textile Industries, Fiber World and Knitting/Apparel magazines, which remain the property of Textile Industries Media Group, LLC. Copyright 2022, Textile Industries Media Group, LLC Title registered with the U.S. Patent Office. All rights, including translation into other languages, reserved. Subscription rates for one year are: $65 (US); $85 (Canada and Mexico); $130 (Other International). Single copy rates are: $15 per copy. All prices are in U.S. dollars and all orders must be prepaid. Questions may be submitted to jdavis@textileworld.com. To obtain electronic copies of print articles, please contact ProQuest at www.proquest.com. To obtain microform copies, please contact NA Publishing at www.napubco.com.

POSTMASTER send address changes to: Textile Industries Media Group, LLC, PO Box 683155, Marietta, GA 30068. Send Canadian address changes to: Textile World, c/o The Mail Group, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada. Customer #7007632 Publications Agreement #40612608.


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Cancel Oil? Not So Fast

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ecently, oil and oil prices have been center stage. For those old enough to remember the 1970’s oil crisis, it is a bit of an unwelcome familiarity. The twist this time is the emergence of an anti-oil movement that blatantly wants the world free of oil and all fossil fuels. This is central to the green movement that has entered U.S. policy and politics. Even President Biden, in CNN’s broadcast of the Democratic debate on March 15, 2020, stated: “Number one, no more subsidies for [the] fossil fuel industry. No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period ….” Not exactly a steady, planned transition to a lower carbon world, but a clear message to the oil industry, and industry beyond gasoline. Importantly, oil has become synonymous with gasoline. But what are the real ramifications for an “oil-free”world? And what really results from refining a 42-gallon barrel of oil? The Petroleum Service Co. (PSC) offered some insight into the issue when it published “What’s in a Barrel of Oil? The 42-Gallon Breakdown” in March 2022. The article details the make-up of crude and begs the question, “If gasoline accounts for 46 percent of our oil barrel, what’s happening to the other 54 percent?” Aside from the 46-percent gasoline, 26 percent of the barrel becomes diesel and other fuels, 9 percent is turned into jet fuel, 3 percent is used in asphalt, 1 percent goes into lubricants, and finally — the remaining 15 percent forms the “bottom of the barrel” products. It is these “bottom of the barrel” products that are intriguing and share a ubiquitous nature similar to textile applications.

For years, the textile industry has been trying to highlight the breadth of textile applications associated with everyday life to highlight an industry beyond the obvious apparel sector. Whether it is home, automotive, filtration or medical, textiles are used everywhere in daily life. A quick look at the “bottom of the barrel” products tells a similar tale. Take for instance everyday modern aspirin. PSC noted: “Benzene is one of the most widely used chemicals in the U.S. today. It is used predominately as a starting material in making other chemicals — including aspirin and other drugs. One way benzene is obtained is by distillation-refining petroleum.” And the list goes on — food coloring, lipstick, synthetic rubber, styrofoam, toothbrushes, and even the thicker inks used in printing money use oils and extenders in the process. And let’s not forget textiles themselves. Polyester fabrics are almost 100-percent petroleum based, and even bottle-based recycled polyester owes its root feed stocks to the 42-gallon barrel. There is a lot of work that needs to go in to replacing the barrel — think new sunglasses, kayaks, mattresses, hair color, fishing rods, dog collars, hard hats, lotions, drums, artificial heart valves, artificial turf and porta-potties. These are just some of the items highlighted in PSC’s “Petroleum Product of the Week.” Moving away from oil as fuel is one thing, but keep in mind the unintended (or intended) consequences.

James M. Borneman jborneman@TextileWorld.com


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Publication

EDITOR IN CHIEF EXECUTIVE EDITOR TECHNICAL EDITORS

James M. Borneman Rachael S. Davis Dr. Lisa Parillo Chapman Dr. Peter J. Hauser Dr. Trevor J. Little Dr. William Oxenham Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi Dr. Abdel-Fattah Seyam Dr. Andre West

ECONOMICS EDITOR YARN MARKET EDITOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Robert S. Reichard Jim Phillips Jim Kaufmann Stephen M. Warner

INTERNET CONTENT EDITOR CIRCULATION MANAGER ADVERTISING BUSINESS MANAGER

Rachael S. Davis Julie K. Brown-Davis Denise Buchalter

ART & PRODUCTION MANAGER

Julie K. Brown-Davis

OWNER/PUBLISHER

James M. Borneman

ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES UNITED STATES/CANADA

Turner Marketing & Media, LLC

+864-594-0921 • sturner@textileworld.com MEXICO, CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA Virgilio L. González +58-412-622-2648 • Fax +58-212-985-7921 • vlgonzalezp@gmail.com EUROPE (except ITALY)

Sabine Dussey

+49-171-5473990 • sabine.dussey@dussey.de ITALY Ferruccio & Filippo Silvera +39-022-846716 • Fax +39-022-8938496 • info@silvera.it ASIA James M. Borneman +678-483-6102 • jborneman@textileworld.com INTERNET & CLASSIFIEDS OPPORTUNITIES Julie Davis +678-522-0404 • jdavis@textileworld.com

PO Box 683155 | Marietta, GA 30068, USA Telephone +678-483-6102 | www.TextileWorld.com


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News Milliken & Company Named A “Most Ethical Company” For 16th Year In a Row Ethisphere has named Spartanburg-based Milliken & Company one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies. This is the 16th year in a row Milliken has received this honor, making the company one of only six companies that have earned the honor each year since the award’s inception. In 2022, 136 companies were recognized. Milliken was one of seven industrial manufacturers on the list. Candidates are assessed based on answers to 200 questions related to culture, environmental and social practices, ethics and compliance activities, governance, diversity, and initiatives that support a strong value chain. “Ethisphere and its World’s Most Ethical Companies program is a key benchmark for the way we do business,”said Halsey Cook, president and CEO, Milliken & Company.“Receiving this recognition for 16 straight years underscores the culture and commitment of Milliken team members globally. It’s who we are.”

Mafic USA Expands In Shelby, N.C. Mafic USA, Shelby, N.C., has received a $3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Business and Industry Loan to purchase new equipment for its basalt —

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mafic volcanic rock — fiber manufacturing facility. The loan was announced by USDA Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight. “Mafic USA is about to become to be the largest volume producer of basalt fiber once the plant reaches full capacity,”Speight noted.“This underscores the President’s desire for the United States to move away from foreign supply chains and make quality products here at home.” In his recent State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said: “There’s something happening in America. The rebirth of the pride that comes from stamping products ‘Made in America.’ The revitalization of American manufacturing.”

M2I2 Awards Three Infrastructrure Grants To Textile Companies Through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), the Baker-Polito Administration recently awarded $2.8 million in grants to three Massachusetts-based textile manufacturers. 99Degrees Custom, a tech-integrated apparel company in Lawrence; Soliyarn, a smart textiles manufacturer in Belmont; and Human Systems Integration (H.S.I.), a wearable technology company in Walpole, received $1.1 million, $1.5 million and $250,000

MARCH/APRIL 2022 TextileWorld.com

NYES Signs Lease For PPE Production Facility New York City-based New York Embroidery Studio (NYES) has signed a lease for an 80,000square-foot-space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The company plans to open a state-of-the-art personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing facility that will employ 500 associates.The project represents an estimated economic output for New York City of $73 million.The women-led business pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic from making high fashion items for well-known brands to producing PPE. This endeavor set the wheels in motion for the recent expansion. NYES has a focus on sustainable and eco-friendly PPE production and plans to make biodegradable isolation gowns that it developed. “New York Embroidery Studio has been manufacturing in the garment center for over 30 years,” said

respectively to fund specific projects. M2I2 is comanaged by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the MassTech Collaborative and the Executive Office of Housing and Development. The program helps to grow and foster cross-collaboration within industry sectors. The grant recipients also receive support from the Advance Functional Fabrics of America national manufacturing institute in Cambridge, Mass.

Michelle Feinberg, founder and owner, NYES.“I am totally committed to growing the apparel industrial base here in NYC. Additionally, we want to bring high fashion’s drive for innovation and quality to PPE manufacturing, by developing novel and sustainable products for our clients.” “The local production of PPE is essential to our health care workers and our city, so we are always prepared,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We must be forward-thinking as we address our city’s future pandemic preparedness. NYCEDC is proud to support a local, women-led small business, like New York Embroidery Studio, with a new state-of-the-art space in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, to help them meet their PPE quotas and ensure the equipment is made in America.”

“These three grantees are developing technical apparel used in medical and military applications, ‘smart’products that provide enhanced protection from the elements but also provide enhanced functionality,”said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.“Through this support, they have the opportunity to enhance their ability to compete in markets across the U.S. and the globe.” TW


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Business & Financial Textile Activity At A Glance DEMAND

*Latest

Previous

Year Ago

(Federal Reser ve Board [FRB], 2017=100)

PRODUCTION

Textile mill Textile product mill Apparel

98.1 93.2 95.1

94.4 94.3 97.2

89.1 94.0 93.9

(Dept. of Commerce [DOC], millions)

MANUFACTURING SALES

Textile mill Textile product mill Apparel Apparel retail

$2,387 $1,906 $891 $26,120

$2,345 $1,884 $881 $25,932

$2,258 $1,910 $951 $21,429

PRICES

(BLS,1982=100)

Man-made fibers Processed yarn & threads Greige goods Finished fabrics Home furnishings Carpet Apparel

*Latest

Previous

Year Ago

150.5 179.9 158.6 190.7 178.0 189.5 150.3

150.4 176.2 155.8 188.2 175.6 188.7 148.4

127.9 139.1 139.2 166.3 169.4 177.2 144.8

$10,155 $1,927 $8,228

$10,283 $1,922 $8,361

$7,329 $1,674 $5,655

124.0

121.2

101.3

112.5

112.0

106.8

INTERNATIONAL TRADE (DOC, millions)

TEXTILE & APPAREL

SUPPLY (FRB, 2017=100)

CAPACITY

Textile mill Apparel

94.7 85.1

94.8 85.1

95.3 87.1

OPERATING RATE

(BLS, 2011=100)

Textile product mill

69.1 78.2

STOCK/SALES RATIO Textile mill Textile product mill

1.39 2.21

1.40 2.20

1.37 1.95

122.1

123.7

79.2

(DOC)

COSTS (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], $/h)

HOURLY EARNINGS

Textile mill Textile product mill Apparel

PRICE INDEXES

$22.59 $22.56 $23.41

$22.85 $22.41 $23.20

Textile mill

66.6 73.9

70.1 76.4

(cents/lb)

IMPORT PRICE

(FRB)

Textile mill Apparel

Cotton

Imports Exports Trade Deficit

$22.35 $21.86 $21.49

(December 2003=100)

(BLS, 2005=100)

EMPLOYMENT

(BLS, thousands)

Textile mill Textile product mill Apparel

101.5 104.5 93.5

PROFITS

Textile Product Mills Price Index

$897 $4,379

Textile Apparel

10.8 16.0

8.3 15.1

*Latest

Previous

Year Ago

4.0

3.9

6.4

$18,188

$18,174

$17,282

1,638

1,708

1,625

281.1

278.8

261.5

244.3

241.2

204.8

Factory utilization rate 77.6 Industrial production (2017=100) 103.2 Production capacity (2017=100) 99.9

77.5 102.0 99.9

75.8 102.1 99.5

(BLS)

Housing starts (DOC, thousands)

Consumer Price Index (BLS, 1982-84=100)

Producer Price Index, all (BLS, 1982=100)

AGGREGATE F

M

A

M

J

J

2021 October – January = preliminary

A

S

O

N

D

J

F

2022 February = estimated

$751 $2,802

7.8 19.1

(DOC, billions)

`

$1,189 $3,503

(census, quarterly per $ of sales)

MARGINS

Unemployment Rate Disposable income

Textile Mills Price Index

96.5 101.9 90.5

(census, millions per quarter)

Textile Apparel

MACROECONOMIC FACTORS

164 162 160 158 156 154 152 150 148 146 144 142 140 138

100.8 105.3 93.5

(FRB)

* all figures are for the latest available month as of TW’s press time, except for profits where only quarterly data are available.

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YarnMarket Demand Strong; Supply Short By Jim Phillips, Yarn Market Editor

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s the first quarter of 2022 comes to a close, demand for U.S-made ring-spun and open-end yarns remains strong. “I can sell just about anything I can get my hands on,” said one industry source. “But I can’t get my hands on as much as I need.” A yarn seller said the open-end market is particularly tight. “Frontier was already selling nearly half of its production to Gildan before it was acquired,” he said. Now the open-end market is very tight. I try to get some ring-spun for my customers when I can, but that is hard to come by, too.” A Gildan subsidiary purchased Frontier in late 2021. “The market was tight even before the sale,” said a yarn broker. “Now it’s even harder. Everyone is waiting for product supply to loosen up a bit, but who knows when that will be.” As has been the case for the past several years, multiple factors are contributing to the smallerthan-normal supply of product. The global pandemic caused a disruption in the U.S. workforce, the likes of which have been experienced no more than twice in the past century. It is estimated that some 47 million workers quit

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their jobs. Many of these people were in food service and other lower-wage positions. In manufacturing alone, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that about 1.4 million jobs were lost at the beginning of the pandemic. Spinners, fabricators and other manufacturers have since struggled to hire both entrylevel and skilled workers. The causes that resulted in many working forgoing manufacturing were multiple. First, for some lower-income families, the temporary Federal unemployment subsidy provided greater income than their normal wages. When people began rejoining the domestic workforce, they were seeking more flexibility, work/life balance, more money, and better working conditions. People much prefer such endeavors as transportation, mining and construction, rather than in such areas as spinning, weaving, knitting or finishing, according to data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the chamber says, there is a surplus of experienced workers in those industries.

Prices Remain High The combination of high demand, diminished production and other factors have caused a precipitous

MARCH/APRIL 2022 TextileWorld.com

increase in yarn prices over the past year. It’s not just demand; it is also the high cost for raw materials and energy, as well as a sluggish global supply chain. “The cost-per-pound for some yarns has almost doubled since the onset the pandemic,” said one yarn broker. “And until energy prices begin to diminish and supply comes more in line with demand, it’s likely to stay that way.” As of the week ended March 17, for example, cotton prices remained substantially above 100 cents per pound, with the average for the base quality of cotton (color 41, leaf 4, staple 34, mike 35-36 and 43-49, strength 27.0-28.9, and uniformity 81.0-81.9) in the seven designated markets measured by the USDA coming it at 117.87 cents per pound. The weekly average was up from 81.98 cents reported during the corresponding week a year ago. Moreover, the price was up from 47.55 cents per pound in April 2020, shortly after the beginning of the pandemic. The USDA reported multiple inquiries from spinners for later in the year but noted that most companies had already covered their raw cotton needs for the summer.

Supply Chain Issues Still Abound As frequently reported over the past 18 months, the lack of a robust supply chain remains a major contributor to lack of domestic product availability. As a result, textile and apparel imports increased by more than 25 percent in 2021. “I don’t see things improving on the supplychain front this year — and maybe not until well into 2023,” said a logistics analyst. “I think what you are going to see, at least for the short-to-mid-term, is that suppliers will be moving closer to their customers. That should at least somewhat ease the pressure on manufacturers.” The instability of the domestic supply chain is of some concern for domestic spinners, who count on partners in the West for a significant portion of orders. “The ability to get top-quality product to our Western Hemisphere customers faster than anyone else has always been a competitive advantage for U.S. companies,” said a source with multinational contacts. “Our hope is that, when the world returns to normal, if there ever will be such a thing, so will the advantages the U.S. has enjoyed over the years.” TW


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Color 41, Leaf 4, Staple 34, Mike 35-36 and 43-49, Strength 27.0-28.9, Uniformity 81.0-81.9 COTTON FIBER (BASE GRADE)

Spot Market, ¢/lb.

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

117.87

86.31

81.96

Ring-Spun 100% Carded Cotton

CARDED COTTON

Open-End Spun 100% Carded Cotton

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

10/1 18/1 24/1 30/1 12/2 20/2

3.10 3.13 3.31 3.33 3.68 3.80

2.04 2.07 2.24 2.25 2.31 2.69

1.97 1.99 2.13 2.18 2.54 2.61

4/1 10/1 16/1 18/1 20/1

2.96 3.03 3.09 3.15 3.24

1.22 1.27 1.32 1.38 1.47

1.16 1.20 1.25 1.31 1.39

Ring-Spun 100% Combed Cotton COMBED COTTON

POLYESTER/ CARDED COTTON

ACRYLIC & RAYON

Ring-Spun 50/50% Polyester/Combed Cotton

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

18/1 26/1 30/1 38/1

4.02 4.19 4.52 4.59

2.79 2.87 3.16 3.23

2.74 2.82 3.11 3.18

20/1 30/1

3.48 3.57

2.33 2.39

2.22 2.28

Ring-Spun 50/50% Polyester/Carded Cotton

Open-End Spun 50/50% Polyester/Carded Cotton

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

20/1 30/1

3.09 3.25

2.19 2.26

2.07 2.14

12/1 14/1 18/1 24/1 28/1

2.55 2.68 2.69 2.82 2.83

1.14 1.27 1.47 1.51 1.55

1.11 1.14 1.34 1.37 1.46

Open-End Spun 100% Acrylic (worsted count)

Open-End Spun 100% 1.2 Denier Rayon

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

1/12 1/18 1/24 1/28 1/32

3.10 3.15 3.22 3.27 3.48

3.10 3.15 3.22 3.27 3.48

3.10 3.15 3.22 3.27 3.48

20/1 30/1

4.56 4.79

4.56 4.79

4.56 4.79

Ring-Spun 100% Polyester (whites only) SPUN POLYESTER

Ring-Spun 100% Polyester (dyed)

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

8/1 16/1 20/1 22/1 30/1

2.50 2.62 2.75 2.85 3.23

2.24 2.36 2.49 2.59 2.97

2.16 2.28 2.41 2.51 2.89

8/1 16/1 20/1 22/1 30/1

3.67 3.88 3.96 4.01 4.39

3.42 3.63 3.69 3.77 4.14

3.25 3.46 3.51 3.59 3.95

Filament Polyester Partially Oriented Yarn (POY)

Textured Nylon

MAN-MADE FIBERS/ FILAMENTS

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

70/2 100/2

3.45 3.58

3.45 3.58

3.45 3.58

70 denier 100 denier 150 denier

2.20 2.14 2.08

2.20 2.14 2.08

2.20 2.14 2.08

Textured Polyester (knits)

Man-Made Staple Fiber

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

YARN TYPE

CURRENT

6 MO. AGO

1 YR. AGO

70 denier (dyeable) 70 denier (whites) 100 denier (dyeable or whites) 150 den. (dyeable) 150 den. (whites)

2.21 2.25 1.92

2.09 2.01 1.80

1.96 1.88 1.67

Polyester (1.5 denier) Acrylic (3.0 denier)

2.22-2.36 2.08-2.24

2.22-2.36 2.08-2.24

2.22-2.36 2.08-2.24

1.87 1.85

1.75 1.73

1.62 1.58

All yarn prices in U.S. dollars per pound & asking prices only. Prices compiled from 3/18/22 See TextileWorld.com for archived Yarn Market data.

Textile World MARCH/APRIL 2022

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ExecutiveForum Mission: Solve Problems,

Empower Women MAS Holdings’ Pilar Diaz and Thanuja Jayawardene discuss the company’s femtech innovations. TW Special Report

S

ri Lanka-based MAS Holdings began as a lingerie manufacturer in 1987. The company was started by three brothers —Mahesh, Ajay and Sharad Amalen — and today comprises a portfolio of businesses focused on manufacturing intimate apparel, shapewear, swimwear, activewear — training & performance — leisurewear and athleisurewear, wearable technology, health tech, adaptive apparel, and impact protection gear. The company’s portfolio includes MAS Acme, established in 2017 following the acquisition of ACME-McCrary Corp., a hosiery manufacturer founded in 1909 in Asheboro, N.C. MAS also operates a sketch-to-scale technology company that creates next-to-skin apparel solutions in consumer technology, consumer health and connected clothing.

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Thanuja Jayawardene

Additionally, MAS owns industrial parks and provides partnered logistic services to customers. MAS Holdings currently operates 52 facilities located in 15 different countries. The company employs more than 115,000 people, and more than 70 percent of its workforce is female. MAS is proud of its global reputation for an ethical and sustainable working environment. Part of its unique mission includes a commitment to women and an emphasis on women’s empowerment. MAS began its foray into the feminine hygiene technology (femtech) space in 2014, as it researched urinary incontinence underwear products. MAS also made an investment in its customer, Thinx — a New York Citybased brand that produces absorbent menstruation underwear. MAS reports it assisted the brand — one that was focused on using

MARCH/APRIL 2022 TextileWorld.com

its products and marketing to break the taboo surrounding periods — to scale from a start-up to a market leader over the past eight years. MAS has continued to develop products for the femtech market and now also offers cooling and temperature regulating clothing as a solution for menopause challenges under its own brand Become, as well as reusable nursing pads for new mothers, among other products. With International Women’s Day in the spotlight, Textile World had the opportunity to speak with MAS Holdings’ Global Head of Femtech Pilar Diaz and General Manager of Women’s Empowerment Thanuja Jayawardene about the company’s innovation in the femtech sector. The company is on a mission to devise solutions to ease the physical symptoms and challenges faced by women

Pilar Diaz

at various stages of their lives, and has a vision for a new generation of fabrics that help empower women around the world. TW: What originally led

MAS to identify urinary incontinence products as a potential market for the company? Were there synergies with existing MAS product lines? Diaz: MAS started work in the urinary incontinence (UI) space in 2014. Our research at the time showed us that one in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of urinary leakage. We also learned that UI is the fifth-largest health-related problem that has the greatest negative impact on the quality of life for women. Understanding the challenges and discomfort caused by UI, we wanted to help women live a normal life without having to wear a disposable pad every single day. Disposable pads are not


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ExecutiveForum only an expensive and unsustainable solution to UI, but are often a harsh reminder to women of their condition. At MAS, we took it upon ourselves to apply our expertise in apparel, specifically within the intimates space, to innovate a more impactful solution than those disposable products. We created a product that looked and felt like regular underwear with absorbent function embedded in it. TW: What other femtech

products does MAS produce? Are there other femtech innovations in the works? Diaz: MAS develops a number of solutions that improve women’s health and well-being as they go through the different life-stages, from the first menstruation to the last, and everything in between. Our range of solutions include products designed for period care, urinary incontinence, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. Today, our products have revolutionized the reusable absorbent underwear space. We have also been first in the market to launch a menopause specific clothing line, addressing the number one symptom of menopause — hot flashes. Currently, we are researching new areas within the femtech space and are working towards developing innovative products that can bring

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To ease menopausal symptoms for example, our patented Anti Flush Technology for hot flashes keeps the wearer cool and comfortable by transferring heat, wicking moisture and reducing odor. Combining HydraDerma MAS Holdings’ femtech product portfolio and Anti Flush includes menopause solutions such as technology T-shirts, vest tops and camisoles. reduces the loss of moisture while offering normalcy to women’s relief from itching and is lives. We are determined meant to soothe irritated to find superior solutions skin. Similarly, we apply for women’s health and these innovative technolowell-being, including gies or combinations of ones that have not been them to bring the best explored yet. benefit to women, at multiple stages of their life. TW: Has MAS utilized TW: What environmental any new textile innova-

tions to elevate femtech performance? Diaz: Apart from regular body fabric, lace and other fashion trims, MAS has invested in developing reusable, functional materials with a range of performance attributes such as quickdrying, high-absorbency, moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating technologies that truly elevate the effectiveness of our femtech products. These technologies are applied to address the multiple pain points of the female reproductive cycle.

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benefits do the period underwear and incontinence products offer? Diaz: On average, a woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime, which equates to nearly 10 years of our lives bleeding! Naturally, the usage of menstrual products is high. What we don’t realize are the startling amount of waste created by conventional menstrual and urinary incontinence products and their impact on the environment. Tampons and pads — which include wrappers and applicators — constitute 7 percent of

the world’s landfill. According to a 2015 research, half of women in the United Kingdom flush up to 2 billion sanitary items each year. The washable and reusable period and UI underwear we make help to reduce the impact of menstrual and urinary incontinence products on landfills. Not only are these products sustainable alternatives that are better for the planet, but they also ease the economic burden resulting from the cost of purchasing disposables and help improve women’s well-being. TW: How large are the

product lines, and where are the products sold? Diaz: Some of the femtech products in our current range include washable absorbent underwear for periods and UI; period pain solutions; reusable, absorbent nursing pads and bras; and diverse clothing products such as daywear, nightwear, shapewear and activewear for menopause. We work with major brands both in the fashion industry as well as in the hygiene and health industry. Products made by MAS are sold around the world in both e-commerce and retail stores. TW: Women comprise

the majority of the company’s workforce. How do you support your female employees, and what opportunities and


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ExecutiveForum initiatives are available to women at the company? Jayawardene: Being an organization relying so heavily on the work and progress of women, we are in the best position to understand the need for gender parity and why female empowerment is essential for thriving and sustainable businesses, stronger economies and better nations. Since we started, our work has been about enriching the lives of these women who make up the most significant part of our organization. But in 2003, our commitment to empowering women and breaking existing biases

was translated into a strategic and result oriented program known as Women Go Beyond. Through this, we seek to improve and enrich the lives of our female associates as well as their families and communities. In 2021 alone, MAS conducted 1,624 initiatives helping create 328,218 opportunities for people within the organization and in their communities, with 248,221 of these opportunities benefitting women across the group. While some areas covered by these projects were related to employment and financial empowerment such as skill

development, career advancement and entrepreneurship, others went beyond these opportunities towards addressing gaps at the grass root level, creating awareness about women’s health and preventing gender-based violence. These are critical areas to address in the communities we operate. The company has also set itself a goal to increase female representation in management and has launched multiple active interventions including family friendly policies, infrastructure support, unconscious bias reduction workshops, mentorship and sponsorship for

women, strategies for recruitment and retention of women, flexible work arrangements and childcare support, and more. It is encouraging to note that female representation on MAS Holding’s company boards also saw an increase from 13 percent in 2020 to 20 percent in 2021. Other indicators including rising female representation in senior management, the share of women recruited for roles above executive level and reduced turnover among female associates are a testament to the tangible results of MAS’ commitment to empowering women. TW

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SUSTAINABILITY Cone Denim, in business since 1891, is using Oritain’s technology to verify the origin of its cotton.

Using Traceability To Drive Business Cone Denim President Steve Maggard discusses sustainability and traceability one year after the company partnered with Oritain. TW Special Report

W

hile the fashion and textile industries have made large strides within the realm of sustainability and supply chain traceability, there is still much progress to be made. From social responsibility to environmental and animal welfare, the many permutations of sustainability can provide as much confusion as they do clarity and direction. Regardless of where or how a company decides to act first, transparency and traceability are key. Transparency is essential as a measure of success. By opening up the operational processes, supply chain components and goals to the public, companies provide opportunities for feedback and review. They also help other brands and consumers see the process and understand that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. It is vital to pave the way and encourage others to be transparent

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as well, which also helps eliminate the accusation of inaction and concerns of greenwashing.

Our Reliance On Transparency Is Only As Good As Our Traceability The ability to verify the origin of finished products and raw materials helps to verify measures of success on a company’s journey towards sustainability. Many companies have ethical sourcing policies in place to ensure responsible sourcing — environmental and manufacturing policies to protect worker rights and welfare and animal welfare guide-

lines that prohibit mistreatment — but until it can be verified that products or raw materials have come from locations that meet these requirements, it is very difficult to drive any level of sustained change. Traceability is, therefore, vital to accountability and, ultimately, long term change. A key partner with New Zealandbased Oritain in the apparel and textile industry is Cone Denim, the Greensboro, N.C.-based iconic supplier of denim since 1891 with a rich history of sustainability and innovation. In 2020, Cone expanded upon its social responsibility practices by becoming the first denim mill in the world to use forensic science to verify the origin of the cotton used in its denim. This partnership allows Cone to provide the utmost transparency to its customers and as a result, has strengthened the level of trust between Cone Denim and the brands it works with. “Our partnership with Oritain has been a significant success and was absolutely the right direction for Cone,” President Steve Maggard said, reflecting upon the company’s year in partnership with Oritain. “Being able to verify the growth origin of the cotton Cone uses and prove that our claims are valid was a major advantage for Cone and the brands and customers we service, ultimately driving a stronger more creditable business. However, the trust wasn’t solely business to business — Cone witnessed an increase in customers who were intrigued by the new technology and its benefits.

It’s been a year of learning and collaborating with our customers to educate more about the Oritain technology and the ways in which it better supports their sustainability and transparency goals. We have great momentum going into our second year of partnership. — Cone Denim President Steve Maggard


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The Key To The Technology Is Oritain’s Scientific Traceability Oritain works alongside Mother Nature, analyzing the unique elements that materials absorb from their environment. Everything that is grown, reared, or made, absorbs a unique ratio of these elements. Some environments are naturally high in elements, some are low. Some have lots of one type of nutrient and not so much of others and vice versa. This is what Oritain measures, using world leading forensic science and statistical models to analyze the data and create an “Origin Fingerprint” for each product. Steve Maggard cited the accuracy of this technology as a key selling point. “We are very pleased to be able to provide scientific certainty of our commitment to responsible sourcing,” Maggard said. “The fact that Oritain’s unique process provides documentable transparency that is admissible in a court of law and passes the Daubert standard truly strengthens both our ethical and sustainable sourcing claims. This has allowed us to assure our customers that Cone Denim products do not contain any cotton from prohibited regions, offering an elevated level of confidence and peace of mind.” And, because eliminating forced labor in the supply chain is a huge priority for the fashion industry, knowing that something does not come from a particular region is just as important as knowing where it does come from. The move to more sustainable and transparent supply chains is undoubtedly gaining traction. The motivation is there, as well as the industry action. However, what’s been lacking until now is the ability for brands to measure their progress towards more sustainable and responsible practice, and pass on this progress to their consumers — improving their desirability as partners and consumer-facing brands, as well as helping to mitigate risk. Maggard was excited to work

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with Oritain because of this technological ability that sets them apart. He sees this type of origin verification testing and transparency being “industry standard inside of 5 years” and a mere requirement of doing business nowadays. “Cone Denim is very pleased with our decision to work with Oritain and would do it

again in a moment,” Maggard said. With Cone Denim now entering into the second year of its partnership with Oritain, the company is in a great position to tackle the future of the textile industry, and it is continuously working to continue leading sustainable practice into every part of its supply chain. TW

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SHOW PREVIEW

Techtextil North America/ Texprocess Americas 2022:

Under One Roof

Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas look forward to hosting the full spectrum of the industry at the GWCC May 17-19.

MM

TW Special Report

esse Frankfurt Inc.’s flagship Atlanta-based trade shows Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas are returning to the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) following a 4-year break. After a COVID-19 pandemic-imposed hiatus in 2020, when the last show was originally scheduled, the show returns to its traditional even-year schedule for the 2022 edition. The 16th edition of Techtextil will be joined by the fifth edition of Texprocess Americas May 17-19, 2022, where visitors have the chance to view the latest innovations for the technical textiles and sewn products industry and meet in a face-to-face fashion. Techtextil North America is incorporated with ATME-I and Texprocess Americas is coproduced by SPESA — the industry association for suppliers to the sewn products industry. “We are thrilled with the level of excitement we are receiving from our exhibitors and visitors for the return of Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas,” said Kristy Meade, vice president – Technical Textile and Technology Shows. “We share that excitement and are looking forward to delivering an amazing event for all —

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from the exhibit hall to the symposiums to the after-hours networking opportunities. But most of all, we’re just excited to see everyone under one roof, experiencing these two shows together for the first time since 2018.”

Receptions On Wednesday, May 18, 2022, a joint reception organized by Messe Frankfurt will be held for both Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas attendees. With the purchase of an add-on ticket, guests can mingle at Der Biergarten located adjacent to the GWCC in downtown Atlanta while eating German-inspired food and listening to a live Bavarian Oompah Band. The ticket price also includes an open bar and a karaoke party room. SPESA is hosting an opening night reception open to both Texprocess Americas and Techtextil North America attendees on Tuesday, May 17, at the World of Coca-Cola building, which is just a short walk from the GWCC. Food and drinks will be provided, and tickets are available through SPESA.

Techtextil North America As always, the event will assemble all vertical aspects of the technical

textiles and nonwovens industries including research and development, raw materials, production processes, conversion, further treatment, and recycling. Visitors will see a wide variety of product groups at Techtextil representing the entire value-added chain in the technical textiles and nonwovens sectors including fibers and yarns; woven fabrics; laid webs; braiding; knitted fabrics; nonwovens; coated textiles and canvas products; composites; adhesives and bonding technologies; functional apparel textiles; research and development; planning and consultation; and technology, machinery and accessories. Techtextil North America exhibits are classified according to 12 application areas: Agrotech; Buildtech; Clothtech; Geotech; Hometech; Indutech; Medtech; Mobiltech; Oekotech; Packtech; Protech; and Sporttech.

Texprocess Americas Texprocess Americas is promoted as the largest North American trade show displaying equipment and technology for the development, sourcing and production of sewn products. Product groups and services covered include: design, product development and automation technology; contract manufacturing and sourcing; production preparation and organization; cutting room and automation technology; fabrics and materials; fusing, setting and manufacturing preparation; textile machinery; textile finishing; knitting technology; embroidery technology; stitching, joining and fastening technology and materials; product processing and finishing; energy, air conditioning, disposal and recycling; quality control; internal material flow; logistics; information technology; services, consultancy and training; and research and development. The collocated events will feature three international pavilions in 2022 — from Germany, Italy and Turkey — as well as the SEAMS Supply Chain USA Pavilion.


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Education Visitors to Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas also may take advantage of several educational opportunities through its symposium sessions, Graduate Student Poster Programs and The Academy. Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas each will host eight symposium sessions on various topics of interest (See Table 1). Visitors can chose a one-, two- or threeday pass to attend as many or as few sessions as they wish. The website for each show will list all of the topics and speakers as the event date gets closer and speakers are finalized. The 2022 symposium program for Techtexil North America was developed in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. Symposium topics for the Texprocess Americas sessions were designed in collaboration with The University of Georgia and various thought leaders in the sewn products industry. As always, the collocated shows will feature a graduate student poster program highlighting research performed by students enrolled at some of the top textile engineering and manufacturing programs in the country. The students’ work will be on display throughout the event, and live presentations will give students the opportunity to engage attendees and share their research. Don’t forget to check out The Academy, a new feature for the show floor that combines features of the previous Tech Talks and The Lab. Over the three show days, The Academy will offer presentations, demonstrations and discussions all related to technical advancements and the latest in textile testing.

Planning And Preparation The GWCC is located in downtown Atlanta, which offers many hotels, restaurants and entertainment options in close proximity to the trade show. Show hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Techtextil Symposium Schedule Tuesday, May 17 High Performance Fibers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. Smart Textiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Composites & Hybrid Materials Interfacing . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 18 Developments in Nonwovens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. New Product Development & Commercialization . . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Circular Economy and Sustainability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 19 Military and Protective Textiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. Trade, Tariffs and the Textile Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

Texprocess Americas Symposium Schedule Tuesday, May 17 Apparel Industry Cage Match! The Conventional Wisdom vs. Digitalization . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. The Fabric Digital Twin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Robotics & Automation in Sewing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 18 The Circular Economy… Is Sustainability Real? . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. Examining Global Trade in the Apparel Supply Chain . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. Supply Chain, Anxiety, & Workforce Development… Sound Familiar? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 19 Spreading and Tabling Concepts for the Modern Cutting Room . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8:30 a.m. — 10:00 a.m. Customers are Demanding More Innovation, and Now . . . 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to register in advance to receive a discount. The last day to save on registration is April 15 before prices increase. Visitors need only purchase an exhibit hall badge for one of the shows to gain access to both Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas. A complimentary three-day pass for the show floor is included with the purchase of a one-, two-, or threeday symposium pass. All pricing and deadlines, as well as hotel and transportation information, are available on the events’ respective websites.

Show organizers will follow all health and safety rules and regulations set forth by local authorities in regards to COVID-19. Check the websites for the most up-to-date information as the date approaches. TW To learn more about Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas, visit techtexilna.com or texprocessamericas. com. Visit techtextil-texprocess.click/TW22 to register. To register for the opening night SPESA reception, visit eventbrite. com/e/spesa-opening-night-reception-tex process-americas-tickets-167772485019.

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NONWOVENS/ TECHNICAL TEXTILES

E/Smart is Piana’s vertically oriented high-loft nonwoven fabric replacement for polyurethane foam.

The strength of 440 years of history at Piana Technology inform and support the company’s future. By Rachael S. Davis, Executive Editor

Piana Technology: From Textile To

Technology Focus

P

iana Technology is owned by the Piana family — a family that got its start in the textile business in 1582 and is recognized in Italy as the oldest textile family. In 1995, the family established a dyehouse in Cartersville, Ga., named Tintoria Piana. The business focused on dyeing cotton apparel for U.S.-based producers. As garment manufacturing waned in the United States in the early 2000s, so did Tintoria Piana’s business. Realizing the company needed to take a different path, the company’s CEO Andrea Piana worked with some technology partners and began producing fire-retardant fibers for the bedding industry. “With patented ecological manufacturing technology, the company initiated a path as an R&D company by adding value and performance to fibers,” said Andrea Piana. “The shift toward focusing on sustainability and becoming a technology company as much as a textile company guides a lot of our work today.”

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This shift lay the groundwork for a period of rapid growth for Piana in the United States. One fiber treatment facility in Cartersville has grown to four facilities, and the company also operates a plant in San Luis, Ariz. Piana Technology comprises two fiber treatment facilities, two nonwoven facilities and one digital printing facility for nonwovens that are all privately held by the Piana family. “Our rich history as a family business, which we continue to be, is a driving factor in our ideals and values,” Piana said. “We know that continued innovation is the key to our growth. As a company, we have the strength of 440 years of history behind us, and the road to becoming a powerhouse ahead of us.”

Today’s Product Portfolio: Fiber Treatment As an advanced performance fiber treatment business, Piana’s original U.S. dyeing company now specializes in dyeing and applying chemical

treatments to all types of natural, man-made, and regenerated and recycled fibers. Fire retardant, dyed, bleached, cationized, antimicrobial and scoured are just some of the current fiber treatment capabilities offered by Piana. Sustainable manufacturing is important to the company, and it owns patents for environmentally sustainable application methods. Piana’s FR application process was developed to allow the FR chemistry to fully penetrate the fiber for even distribution. The chemistries used are non-toxic to humans and the environment, and chemistry is recycled so none is released into the environment during manufacturing. Piana also developed SaveDrop® cotton dyeing technology — a process that reduces energy consumption by up to 75 percent and water consumption by up to 90 percent. Piana reports that the cationic cotton absorbs the anionic dyestuffs in the SaveDrop process almost completely, and rinse water can be used for the next dye bath.


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“Our ecological, closed-loop fiber treatment process was the key to our transition from textiles to technology, and allowed us to shift focus wholly to smart, sustainable technology,” Piana said. “The technologies we’re debuting now — upgradeable, circular-economy-driven textiles, digitally printed molecular chemistries, embedded biomarker detection — have the potential to change how we view our relationship with the environment around us, from mattresses to smart cars to yoga mats and everything in between.”

Today’s Product Portfolio: Nonwovens At its nonwoven plants, Piana produces fire-retardant fibers and barrier fabrics for bedding using carded and thermal bonded nonwoven technology. The company also offers vertically lapped and crosslapped products. The Piana Vertical Technology process laps a fiber web vertically instead of in the traditional horizontal format using crosslappers. According to the company, this process is unique and offers a true upright fiber orientation in the nonwoven, which provides benefits such as higher compressional resistance, greater thickness, and the potential to produce lighter nonwovens with properties equivalent to heavier traditional crosslapped products. Other benefits of the process include: • Flexibility and composite formation; • Superior acoustic performance and thermal dynamics; • Precise and repeatable fabric uniformity; • Excellent moldability; • Structural integrity. According to Piana, this vertically lapped nonwoven material behaves in a way that is similar to memory foam, changing shape to match an object it comes into contact with. This differs from a conventional nonwoven, which typically concentrates pressure at the center of the contact point (See Figure 1).

The process can accommodate a variety of natural and man-made fibers as well as high-tech and luxury fibers; and the products are marketed under two brands — IsoActive™ and V-Smart ™ . Applications for Piana Vertical Technology nonwovens are wide. IsoActive applications include apparel insulation, agricultural mats, filter media, and burn gauze and bandages; while V-Smart applications focus on automotive acoustic material, bedding tops and polyurethane foam replacement, seat cushions, and interior sound proofing and design applications.

as it was developed by ‘accident’ in house while we were experimenting with how to best utilize our steam molding technology,” Piana said. “Now, we believe it is the future of sustainable molding and we’re on the road to replacing polyurethane foam entirely, with a sustainable, accessible and reusable alternative. The innovative fiber molding technology represents one of our greatest technologies of the future and will be exploited across many verticals and markets. “There is no future without building sustainability into all of our products — it’s a core part of why we

Piana Vertical Technology Nonwoven Material Shape changes at an individual point. Piana Vertical Technology nonwoven material changes shape to match object shape (similar to memory foam).

Conventional Nonwoven Material Shape changes across a surface. Conventional nonwoven material changes shape pulling down adjacent areas while pressure is concentrated at the center.

Figure 1

Piana Cross Lapping Technology stacks single or dual carded layers of fiber web to produce a nonwoven available in a variety of thickness and basis weights depending on the application. The process may also incorporate Piana’s high-performance treated fibers to add flame retardant or antimicrobial properties in a unique and inexpensive way.

New Discoveries Most recently, Piana Technology introduced E/SMART nonwovens. This entirely new vertically oriented high-loft nonwoven fabric is made using a new molding technology developed by the company. “This technology was discovered as much

exist,” Piana continued. “With our new molding technology, we want to ensure all E/SMART products sold will eventually come back to us at the end of their life so we can recycle and upcycle them. None of this material should ever see the landfill, there is no need to dispose of it. The process must be fully circular and traceable, otherwise we’re not making a positive impact. People deserve to know — and are increasingly interested in — what steps companies are taking toward truly sustainable practices.”

Research & Development, Team Effort As Piana Technology shifted towards technology and sustainabil-

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Piana’s M/Smart mattress topper can be printed with a host of different molecules — cooling, aromatherapy or neurotransmitter activation, for example — for an enhanced sleeping experience

A close up of Piana’s E/Smart nonwoven technology

ity, the company understood the value and need for high-level, nimble research and development efforts. Often, new product ideas are generated by the companies need to solve problems, as well as Piana Technology’s creative and flexible nature. “We spend more on R&D than most companies several times our size, as we know this is how we will bring uncommon solutions to common problems,” Piana said. “We believe that our customer’s problems will be solved by our innovations. Most work is done under non-disclosure agreements, and a lot of folks who haven’t heard of Piana or the technologies we’re creating are using the technologies in day-to-day applications.” The company’s team also contributes in a large way to the company’s past and future growth. Piana noted that the distinctive backgrounds of its team members keep the team open to ideas and ensures the company always delivers. “We are a very diverse family at Piana and we believe in inspiring the best talent to perform at peak,” Piana said. “We always strive to provide people the opportunities to do things they never thought possible and because of that, we’ve assembled a team who have been able to grow and change with the company over time. “New technologies don’t get developed in a vacuum and the myth of the genius founder is exactly that,

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a myth,” Piana said. “Input at all levels of the company influences the work we do and is the reason we’ve been able to discover new materials and processes over the years.” New innovations are also moving Piana Technology closer to the business-to-consumer space. “Currently, we aren’t actively promoting any other brands — we’ve focused on partnerships where we can introduce sustainability and groundbreaking technologies where you least expect it,” Piana said. “We announced our technology at the CES® trade show this year, talking about it publicly really for the first time. We’ve been advancing textile technology for years behind the scenes, but we’re gearing up to launch a sustainable,, interactive customer-forward platform that has been in development for years.”

Future Outlook The U.S. market is critical to Piana and represents more than 95-percent of its total revenue. According to Piana, the COVID19 pandemic exposed U.S. manufacturing as a great need that has been neglected and undervalued. “If we do not start building our manufacturing capabilities again, shame on us as we may not be so fortunate next time we encounter such dire circumstances,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught all of us some lessons. It does not mat-

ter that there are supply chain issues, there is always a way to work through every issue we face. We struggled with COVID-19 cases, labor issues and supply issues, but we never stopped iterating and making progress. Despite setbacks, we hit some major milestones in 2020 and 2021, during a time that could have easily been disastrous.” Transformed into a technology company with sustainability and research at its core, Piana Technology looks to continue its success as a family business. “While we have our hands in a lot of different sectors, our core value proposition is simple: Eliminate polyurethane foam from all consumer products,” Piana emphasized. “Most manufacturing companies are concerned with product creation above all else, but we start with sustainability and work backwards from there; if we’re not improving our daily lives while saving our planet, why focus on new technologies at all?” Piana Technology looks forward to the proliferation of E/SMART materials in the marketplace — both in new products set to debut soon, and also embedded as technology in existing products such as smart car seating and mattress toppers. Piana concluded: “Our vision is to create a circular economy platform, and the work we’re doing that we can’t quite talk about yet … it’s all very exciting!” Very exciting indeed. TW


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Propel Owner Clare King (left) and Birgit Leitner, Design & Development, evaluate the fit of Propel’s Steam Suit for the U.S. Navy.

Propel, a woman-owned small business, is focused on using technical textiles as problem-solving tools to meet its customer’s challenges. By Jim Kaufmann, Contributing Editor

Propel LLC: Intent On Solving

Technical Problems I t’s fair to say that anyone meeting Clare King for the first time will quickly come to the realization that she enjoys solving problems, so much so, that problem solving was the primary impetus that led her to found Propel LLC in 2006. “I was bored and felt limited in working for other companies that just wanted to bring something very specific to market,” King said. “I’ve always been more interested in solving the problem rather than selling a solution. So, I wanted to work on more challenging issues and started Propel in order to develop new ways of solving harder problems.”

Woman-Owned Small Business Based in Pawtucket, R.I., Propel is a woman-owned small business that focuses on applied research projects

and building a bridge between design and technology. The company’s core competencies are in developing unique textile-based products with clear-cut performance driven attributes and sometimes e-textile technologies. The company has garnered a well-earned reputation for being innovative and resourceful. Much of Propel’s work has been funded directly or indirectly by the Department of Defense (DOD) through either specific contracts or via the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant process. “There’s certainly been a lot of proposal writing over the years,” said King, and Propel’s hit rate has been better than average in receiving SBIR grants. Propel was awarded its first SBIR in 2012, and to date has received a total nine SBIR projects — six Phase I and three Phase II. A cou-

ple of projects have led to Phase III contracts to actually produce and supply the technologies developed during Phase I and II research efforts. Today, the U.S. Navy is Propel’s biggest customer, but the company also has built a solid history of work experience with other segments of the DOD. “Our business is currently an approximate 80/20 split between DOD and non-government related projects,” King noted. “That 80 percent does include products or components we’re making for clients who then supply to the DOD. Our projects can take anywhere from a couple of months to potentially eight or nine years from start to delivery of product. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of time spent waiting for decisions to be made when dealing with government agencies or large corporations. The 20 percent representing our

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Propel developed yarn kits in a variety of colors and and performance characteristics for integration into Ghillie suit camouflage ensembles.

commercial work is typically on a much faster timeline and we are working to increase this percentage in order to balance things out with the government projects.” People generally find Propel through word of mouth and its collective reputation. “Presently we’re heavily defense focused, but we don’t have to be. It’s just turned out that way so far,” King said. “Regardless of the project’s intention, we try to completely understand what the problem is. Then our efforts are to not only solve it, but also address the different connections to that problem and resolve those as well. Our preference is to do work that builds on and expands our knowledge base and capabilities. It really doesn’t matter to us who the work is being done for.”

A Textile Approach To Problem Solving King graduated from the Englandbased Oxford University and Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., with a bachelor’s and Masters of Public Administration in Economics respectively, which makes it all the more curious that King is now admired for her high-level working knowledge of textile technologies. “I think my interest in textiles started as a child,” King mused. “I come from a very creative family and at an early age was using textiles to make things. I remember being

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about 12 and destroying one of my mother’s favorite pans while teaching myself batik dyeing. I picked up hand knitting in my late teens and by then already sewed a lot. After graduate school I worked as an economic analyst in New York City and started going to Parsons School of Design at night for fun where I learned pattern making, draping, and tailoring.” While at Parsons, King also took small business-oriented classes that provided the basic skills needed to start her first business — a children’s outdoor clothing company named Cherry Tree. After growing the business to several million dollars in annual sales, Cherry Tree was sold to venture capitalists. King went on to further pursue her growing interest in technical textiles, working for several different companies before founding Propel. “I’ve picked as many brains as possible and had amazing mentors along the way,” King said. “Plus, I read extensively and am always listening to those with specialized knowledge. The learning never stops. I think my expertise has developed from all the opportunities I’ve been given from that creative family through my excellent education. I’ve learned to recognize that I’m adept at identifying and connecting to develop new ways of making and doing.” Suffice to say that King’s knowledge base is built on many years of valuable hands-on experience, and

this extends into Propel’s capabilities, which range from fiber development through creating finished products. “I have found that the textile component is not necessarily addressed at the beginning of a development project,” King noted. “In fact, it’s often held to the end, because people tend to think or assume that textiles are easy. They’re not!” Propel focuses on technical textiles and performance-driven fibers and fabrics as tools to meet the challenges its presented with. “We’re not really interested in the fashion business at all as they tend to only be about design, not necessarily in solving technical problems,” King said. “We’re much more focused on form, fit and function. We’ve established a unique niche that you don’t really see many other companies in. We want our work to lead somewhere and actually get solutions out into the hands of people who need them.”

Monetizing The Development Efforts One of the biggest challenges faced by many businesses contracted to do research and development or consulting work is how to turn those identified opportunities into reality? Or more specifically how can they monetize it? This is one of the primary reasons why universities and some companies that work on research and development projects often require a level of ownership in any intellectual property (IP) generated. King regards Propel’s IP as the crown jewels of the company and the key to its commercial success. She is always looking into ways to leverage Propel’s technical capabilities and intellectual property. “You don’t always have to do it the way you always have,” stated King. “We’re constantly thinking what is the result? How can we monetize it? A lot of the IP and know-how we have developed is capable of solving more problems. We just have to identify them.” Propel does not have the in-house facilities to manufacture its products. “We focus in house on prototyping,


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but early in any project, Propel identifies the best subcontractors for transition into the manufacturing stage,” King said. It is these sub-contractors, who’ve been vetted and established through collaborations over the years that manufacture Propel’s highly technical products. As a result, “We’ve become really good at project management,” King noted. “Large companies have advantages and disadvantages in that they can’t easily shift from product to product because of their capital investment considerations and technical capabilities. We don’t have those concerns because of the various contractors we’ve established relationships with, and as a result, can quickly adapt to our customer’s particular needs.” These relationships also help to explain how Propel has been able to develop and produce both a unique and diverse range of offerings.

Diversity In Product Offerings Products and technologies developed to date by Propel include: • A “steam suit” used by damage control first responders in emergency situations aboard submarines; • Stitchless seaming technologies to replace traditional needle and thread on technical garments; • E-textiles and smart integration technologies; • A wearable advanced electronic sensor platform to monitor the wearer’s physiology and indoor location; and • Specialized materials, such as a unique polyurethane membrane with superior water-resistant and abrasion resistance properties. In each instance, Propel was instrumental in developing the specifications and testing methodologies necessary for these unique and highly technical products. Propel also was one of several companies that at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was able to pivot quickly and use its textile knowledge and resources to create and produce cut-

Priya Jyotishi, Propel’s Textile Technologist, preparing to start a 3D knitting project.

ting-edge protective masks for individuals and institutions. In addition, Propel is involved in trade studies to help better understand the current state-of-the-art for different technologies that includes identifying who is involved, as well as defining where there may be gaps in the collective efforts. “One of our biggest challenges is finding the customers for the technologies we’ve developed,” King said. “A lot of what we have is capable of solving existing problems. The steam suit was a complete rethink of how to protect someone, and I’m sure there are other applications for its technology out there. In addition, there are two or three other textile materials we’ve developed that are potentially viable technologies for other applications. We just have to find and identify them.” Sales and marketing has been, and remains, another of Propel’s biggest challenges. King has tried having a sales person on staff at Propel, “but it ended up making more work for me,”she said. “When you do R&D for commercialization, it’s not always a consistent or straight path. Our ‘sales’ are generally highly technical in nature and it is rather difficult to find someone who can clearly communicate to our customers what generally ends up being an overlap between textiles and physics.”

Going Forward King remains interested in additional collaboration opportunities, but has gained a level of comfort in Propel’s present size and structure. “Pre-pandemic, we were heading towards being three times the size and number of people that we have now, but I’m happy with where we currently are,” King noted. “Ours is an interesting business to be in at the moment. At Propel, we’ve developed a level of maturity, clearly established the way we work and what we’re good at. This allows us to quickly figure out if we’re the right ones to solve a problem or not. “I’m not a backwards looking person,” King added. “Definitely a build on and move forward type. Give us problems to solve. We have the knowledge base and capabilities to make it happen. We bring an open mind and tons of experience to the task at hand, and I’d like to think we’re able to push the boundary to provide more options for a better outcome. When you work with us, you’re able to sleep better at night because of the quality of work we do on the project.” Given that the company has now been in business for more than 15 years, it is safe to say that Propel has helped many to sleep better at night and is positioned to continue to do so. TW

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TEXTILE INVESTMENT

Eastman announced it will invest up to $1 billion to build a molecular plastics recycling facility in France.

U.S. Textile

Investment Roundup The textile industry continues to expand with new products, plants, equipment and activity in mergers and acquisitions. TW Special Report

F

ollowing last year’s textile investment roundup feature story, continued industry investment and merger and acquisition activity is still filling the news. A quick count of press announcements on T e x t i l e W o r l d .com’s “New Plant and Equipment, M&A” news section yielded almost 300 postings over the past 12 months. Sectors including apparel, bedding, floorcovering, traditional textiles, nonwovens and technical textiles all saw investment, expansion and innovation activities — with sustainability and interest in Central America featuring heavily in the investment activities.

Hot Topic: Sustainability Building on its January 2021 announcement of a $250 million investment in plastic-to-plastic

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molecular recycling facilities at its site in Kingsport, Tenn, Eastman Chemical Co. announced the company’s plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. According to the company: “This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated. This multi-phase project includes units that would prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of firstquality materials for specialty, packaging, and textile applications.” “The plan to build the world’s largest plastics recycling facility in France is an important part of our overall circular economy strategy,”

said Eastman Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa. “Today’s announcement is a key milestone towards our commitment, and we expect to achieve additional milestones in the coming months, including agreements related to securing the plastic waste that will be raw material supply, securing government incentives, and the site location decision.” West Sacramento, Calif.-based Origin Materials Inc. announced plans to invest at least $750 million to develop a biomass manufacturing facility in Ascension Parish, La. According to the company: “The plant in Geismar will utilize sustainable wood residue — sourced partly from Louisiana’s timber mills and managed forests — to produce plantbased polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in packaging, textiles, apparel and other applications. Hydrothermal carbon, which can be used in fuel pellets, also will be produced at the site.” Textile innovations company Evrnu, Seattle, raised $15 million in its Series B financing to scale and meet the surging demand for its fiber regeneration platform, NuCycl — a depolymerization technology for textile waste. “Over the last few years, we have iterated and fine-tuned NuCycl technologies to meet and exceed the quality and performance demands of the luxury industry,” said Stacy Flynn, CEO and co-founder of Evrnu. “We are now proving these technologies at scale, with short-term plans for global expansion.” MycoWorks — an Emeryville, Calif.-based biotechnology company that specializes in mycelium-grown materials for use as sustainable leather alternatives — announced plans to establish operations in Union County, S.C. The $107 million investment will create 400 new jobs. MycoWorks’ products, such as Reishi™, mimic the performance and luxury quality of animal leathers,


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while reducing the environmental impact. According to the company, its patented Fine Mycelium™ process produces materials that offer creative solutions and new design possibilities for fashion and luxury brands.

Well-Established Firms March Forward In early 2022, Mount Vernon Mills announced that it agreed to acquire Wade Manufacturing Co.’s yarn spinning and weaving facility located in Rockingham, N.C. With the acquisition, Mauldin, S.C.-based Mount Vernon Mills will be vertically integrated from yarn production to finished fabric in certain products. “The Rockingham facility is a modern, cost-efficient operation with an experienced and stable workforce, making it a great fit as we increase the amount of control that we have over our yarn supply, weaving operations and overall costs,” said Bill Duncan, CEO, Mount Vernon Mills. “We are also proud to expand our footprint in the U.S. and build upon our made in America commitment and heritage.” Also in early 2022, polyester staple fiber manufacturer Fiber Industries LLC announced plans to invest $30 million to expand its operation in Darlington, S.C. The investment includes increased capacity through upgrades and modernization of production lines such as the addition of state-of-the-art control systems, as well as increased warehouse space. “We are excited about the continuing growth of our facility which is now even better positioned to serve the needs of the American textile indus-

try,” said Fiber Industries CEO Don Bockoven. “We also are proud to be part of the wider effort to reshore jobs and bring textile manufacturing back to the USA.” Glen Raven, N.C.-based Glen Raven Inc. continued its multiphase investment program with the announcement of an expansion of its Custom Fabrics operations with an investment of up to $82 million in Norlina, N.C. Glen Raven later announced a $70 million investment plan to expand operations for its custom fabrics division in Anderson County, N.C. Glen Raven has operated in Anderson County since 1986, and is widely recognized for its global brands including Sunbrella® and Dickson®.

Focus On The Home Multiple floorcovering operations expanded in the recent past. Dalton, Ga.-based Shaw Industries Group Inc., a global flooring provider, announced plans to expand its operations in Aiken County, S.C. The approximately $400 million investment will create more than 300 new jobs at the manufacturing facility which creates fiber used to manufacture residential carpet. According to the company, this location currently employs more than 600 associates and the expansion will increase the company’s manufacturing capacity and support future growth for new products. Sherrill Furniture Co., a manufacturer of high-end furniture, will invest $2.9 million to open a new custom upholstery production facility in Conover, N.C. Founded in

Above left: Shaw is expanding a fiber operation that supplies its residential carpet manufacturing operations. Above right: Glen Raven has a multi-phase investment plan underway, which includes an expansion of its Custom Fabrics operation.

Catawba County in 1945, the company has maintained its legacy of manufacturing high-quality custom furniture in America for more than 75 years. According to Sherrill, its custom upholstery and case goods portfolio includes nine furniture brands for retailers and interior designers in all 50 states. “Backlogs within the furniture industry are at an all-time high,” said Sherrill President Thad Monroe. “We are 100percent focused on substantially reducing lead times for our customers and are willing to invest heavily to more quickly fulfill orders of our USA-made products.”

Investing In Central America In December 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris announced significant multimillion-dollar investments by Parkdale Mills and six other companies into Central America. According to a press release from the Washington-based National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO): “Vice President Harris, who is overseeing diplomatic efforts with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, announced several private sector commitments to strengthen economic opportunities in the Northern Triangle … Gastonia, N.C.-headquartered Parkdale Mills, one of the

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Intradeco Holdings announced more than $100 million of investment in Central America, part of which will be used to expand the company’s solar energy power.

largest manufacturers of spun yarn and cotton consumer products in the world, will make a multi-million-dollar investment in a new yarn spinning facility in Honduras and make an additional substantial investment to support existing operations in Hillsville, Va. This investment will help customers shift 1 million pounds of yarn per week away from supply chains in Asia and China and enhance U.S. and CAFTA-DR co-production resilience and increase regional product offerings. Parkdale’s announced investment will create hundreds of jobs in Honduras and further support hundreds of employees in Parkdale’s Hillsville operations.” “Parkdale’s investments will support good paying jobs in the United States and in the Central American region and significantly increase our extensive product offering and capacity, including the production of sustainable specialty yarns,” noted Parkdale’s Chairman and CEO Anderson Warlick. Miami-based Intradeco Holdings announced investments of more than $100 million in Central America to make the most of the CAFTA-DR and nearshoring opportunities, advance full circularity, and expand solar power with three major projects. Its first project is the Central American Spinning Works, a state-of-theart ring spinning mill in Honduras

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that began operations earlier this year. The second project is the creation of a manufacturing plant in El Salvador that uses 100-percent recycled yarns — both cotton and manmade fibers. A third project will allow the company to expand its solar energy power to attain 30 megawatts by the third quarter of 2022. “[Our] announcement is consistent with our 40 years of innovation and service which comes with being an integral part of the textile, apparel, and retail industries,” said Intradeco Chairman Felix Siman. “With our comprehensive distribution channels and state-of-theart supply chain, we can reach our customers in an efficient and cost-effective manner in the shortest time possible. Intradeco is a founding member in The HUGE (Honduras, USA, Guatemala, El Salvador) Business and Investment council. Through these investments, our company is helping to create more than 1,000 jobs in Central America, while contributing to the region´s environmental sustainability objectives.”

Investing In Sleep Sleep products saw tangible interest in the recent past with much of the new investment focused on South Carolina. Somnus Mattress International LLC, a manufacturer of hybrid memory foam mattresses, announced a $13 million investment with plans to establish operations in

Blacksburg, S.C. The operation will manufacture mattresses to serve clients across the United States. Founded in Turkey in 2006, BRN Sleep Products, a premium manufacturer and supplier of bedding products, announced an investment of more than $4.3 million to establish operations in Orangeburg County, S.C. The company specializes in manufacturing and assembling mattresses and bases; as well as marketing, distribution and sale of bed products. “We are beyond excited for the opportunity to invest in both South Carolina and the United States,” said BRN Sleep Products Owner Berna Gözbaçi. si “We look forward to growing with Orangeburg and the surrounding communities.” S.C. Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III stated, “Foreign direct investment is a crucial element of South Carolina’s business environment, and we are excited that BRN Sleep Products has joined the roster of international firms that have decided to call South Carolina home.” Columbus, Ohio-based wholesale mattress company Solstice Sleep Products Inc. announced plans to establish operations in Marion County, S.C. The facility — its sixth new manufacturing facility opened in the past 10 years — will increase the company’s capacity to meet growing demand for its Jamison brand mattress and foundation sleep products throughout the Southeast. “We are proud to work with the state of South Carolina and Marion County to expand our base of operations throughout the Southeast!” said Solstice Sleep Product President Dennis Straily. “Marion, S.C., will help us secure our long-term growth plans with our dealer base and meet their growing business demands.” Established in 2021, APEX Mattress Manufacturing Inc. announced an investment of more than $1.9 million to establish its first manufacturing operation in Walterboro, S.C. “APEX Mattress Manufacturing Inc. is delighted to announce the presence of our first U.S. mat-


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tress manufacturing facility in Walterboro, S.C.,” said President Jack Hung. “Through our comprehensive strategic planning and study, South Carolina offers the best climate for new business, and Colleton County offers the best location for being close to both the Charleston and Savannah ports.” Lehi, Utah-based Purple Innovation Inc. recently celebrated the grand opening of its newest manufacturing facility in Henry County, Ga., located just 27 miles south of Atlanta. “Georgia has been our second home since we chose the state to build our largest manufacturing facility,” said Purple’s CEO Joe Megibow. “We’re thrilled to mark this occasion … and celebrate the success we’ve accomplished thus far in already bringing more than 400 jobs to Georgia.” Purple’s ribbon cutting comes on the heels of the company’s recent joint announcement with the State of Georgia to expand operations in the area and add more than 500 new jobs over the next two years. This expansion will also include a customer care center slated to open in the spring of 2022. Mattress manufacturer and retailer Brooklyn Bedding officially broke ground on a new state-of-the art manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in Glendale, Ariz. The 648,165-square-foot building will be located on 42.8 acres. The new manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters will merge the capacity of both the company’s current factory and warehouse. The investment of more than $72 million is intended to make Brooklyn Bedding almost 100percent vertically integrated. Waterford, N.Y.-based Soft-Tex International, a producer of bedding and home comfort products, announced that it has opened a new facility in Sugar Land, Texas, which will double the company’s production capacity for fiber-filled products. Soft-Tex Principal, Mark Smiderle, remarked on the opening of the Sugar Land and the company’s commitment to domestic supply chains

noting: “As promised, Soft-Tex has delivered and now continues to expand upon its commitment to growing its domestic footprint. These efforts will continue to improve SoftTex’s, and in turn, our partners’ overall service quality, speed, and costs, which we recognize is critical to driving continued growth.” Soft-Tex launched initiatives to shift volume for many other bedding product categories back to domestic and/or nearshore supply chains.

Technical Textiles And Nonwovens Avgol® America Inc., an Indorama Ventures Ltd. company, recently announced a partnership with YanJan USA LLC to deliver exclusive apertured nonwoven product offerings to the North American market. “This is an exciting partnership for our companies,” said Ronnie Batchler, vice president Americas Region at Avgol. “The spunbond ‘precursor’ material will be specifically designed to meet customer specifications and deliver optimum performance. Aperturing of the spunbond will then give the nonwoven material additional unique attributes, such as improved physical performance and aesthetic appeal.” North Chesterfield, Va.-based Verdex recently reported that it has secured financing to scale its propri-

etary nanofiber technology and complete a commercial manufacturing facility located in Richmond, Va. According to the company, the investment follows 10 years of development activities for its unique functionalized production technology capable of producing a wide range of advanced nanofiber products. “One of the most unique abilities in The Verdex Process® is our ability to customize and functionalize our nanofibers,” said Damien Deehan coCEO at Verdex. “This allows Verdex to incorporate particles into the fiber matrix to target specific challenges and problems in multiple industries to create game-changing products.” Spunlace products manufacturer Fibertex Nonwovens Inc. announced an investment of more than $49.5 million to expand its operations in Grey Court, S.C. The expansion, which will add 39 jobs, includes a second spunlace production line for rolled nonwoven fiber products. Fibertex also acquired an 84-acre industrial plot adjacent to the company’s existing facilities. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2023. Mountainside, N.J.-based Gusmer Enterprises Inc., a manufacturer of filtration and fermentation products, announced $26.5 million investment to build a production facility in Hickory, N.C. A family-owned company

Joe Megibow (right, holding scissors), Purple CEO, and John Legg (left, holding scissors), Purple COO, with elected officials at the opening of the company’s manufacturing facility near Atlanta.

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for almost 100 years, Gusmer’s products are used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications. The new 135,000-square foot manufacturing facility is Gusmer’s third plant, and it will support the production of filtering devices for liquids including COVID-19 treatments. Emigsville, Pa.-based Herculite Products Inc., a manufacturer of high performance and custom fabrics, announced it has acquired the Laminated Fabrics Division of Burlan Manufacturing LLC. According to the company, this acquisition strengthens Herculite’s position as a global leader in high performance reinforced textile composites. Later in the year, Herculite announced it completed the second phase of a multiyear strategic investment into its facilities adding significant additional capacity. Herculite’s multiyear, multi-million-dollar investment is focused on strengthening its position as a global leader in high-performance reinforced textile composites by increasing production capabilities, expanding manufacturing capacity, and improving organizational efficiency. The recently completed phase was specifically focused on increasing manufacturing capacity at its Emigsville, Pa., facility. This additional capacity has allowed Herculite to further grow its U.S.-based workforce, achieve record fabric production

levels and respond to the historical and unprecedented demand across all Herculite product lines. Totowa, N.J.-based Precision Textiles made several significant announcements in the past year. The company signed a lease for a new 160,000-square-foot, 25-acre campus in Troy, N.C., which is its first domestic manufacturing facility outside of its New Jersey headquarters. The new plant is expected to be operational by September 1 and will employ 100 people, all from the local area. It will double the manufacturer’s needlepunch nonwovens production and boost its high-loft quilting fiber output by 50 percent “Demand for these products has risen to the point where we are near full capacity at our home facility in New Jersey,” said Scott Tesser, CEO of Precision Textiles. “In addition to keeping pace with current demand, this investment positions us for future growth as we continue to expand our customer base in the bedding and automotive industries.” Precision also recently signed a lease for a 50,000square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz. that employs 35 associates and serves its customers throughout the western United States.

Apparel Investment Cincinnati-based TSC Apparel relocated its Fullerton, Calif., opera-

Precision Textiles opened a new 160,000-square-foot-facility in Troy, N.C.

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tion to a larger, state-of-the-art 125,000-square-foot distribution center in Moreno Valley. The new facility is the latest development in an expansion effort that began in 2017 with a 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Houston and 135,000-square-foot DC in Philadelphia. In 2018, TSC also added a 200,000-square-foot distribution center in Cincinnati. Cincinnati-based based Standard Textile Co. Inc. announced an investment of more than $15 million to expand operations in Union County, S.C. “In addition to meeting growing demand, this expansion allows us to create a state-of-the-art rapid prototyping center for the development of innovative products and a showroom to share the company’s innovation history and unique products,” said Bradley Fry, COO and CFO. The company partners with industry leaders to create products and services that solve the unique needs of the healthcare, hospitality, interiors and home markets. Denver, Colo-based VF Corp. announced the investment of $10.2 million to grow its Martinsville, Va., operation. The company will use its 500,000-square-foot facility in Martinsville to increase distribution capacity to deliver products to its consumers faster. “VF Corporation has thrived in Henry County for nearly 20 years, and we are thrilled to see the company continue to invest in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia’s strong outdoor recreation economy supports the growth of companies like VF Corporation. We look forward to the company’s continued success here in the Commonwealth as our ecotourism industry grows.” “We’ve proudly operated our distribution center in Martinsville for 18 years and we know that continuing to invest in Martinsville is the right choice given its location and committed employees,” said Cameron Bailey, executive vice president, Global Supply Chain, VF Corp. “The planned investments in this facility,


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from enhanced technology to improved distribution equipment, as well as the 82 new full-time positions, will help deliver our products to our consumers in a more efficient and prompt manner.” Through one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Montreal-based Gildan Activewear Inc. acquired 100 percent of the equity interests of Phoenix Sanford LLC — the parent company of Frontier Yarns — for a total cash consideration of approximately $168 million. Frontier produces 100-percent cotton, polyester, and cotton-blend yarns primarily manufactured on open-end and vortex spinning technology. Gildan acquired four Frontier facilities located in North Carolina that employ approximately 800 employees. During 2021, approximately 40 percent of Frontier’s production was dedicated to yarn sold to Gildan for textile manufacturing in Central America and the Caribbean. The Frontier acquisition will allow Gildan to build on its global vertically integrated supply chain by further internalizing yarn production. In addition, the purchase will support yarn availability for Gildan’s textile capacity expansion plans in Central America and the Caribbean. Charlotte, N.C.-based clothing and apparel company Citadel Brands LLC announced an investment of more than $7.5 million to establish operations in Kingstree, S.C. The company specializes in promotional clothing and apparel. Citadel Brands’ new operations will

increase distribution capacity and promote future growth for new products and brands. The Kingstree facility is expected to be operational in June 2022. LT Apparel Group announced an expansion of operations in North Carolina with an investment of at least $57 million in Greensboro, N.C. Headquartered in New York City, LT Apparel designs, sources, manufactures, and markets children’s apparel. The company’s family of brands includes adidas Kids, Carhartt Kids, and its own brand French Toast — a prominent schoolwear brand for kids. The company will maintain its design center in Greensboro as it adds new capacity and warehousing space in the city. New York City-based Ferrara Manufacturing — a family-owned apparel manufacturer that partnered with Ralph Lauren to create the U.S. Olympic and Paralympics uniforms from 2014-2022 — recently announced the launch of Ferrara Uniform. Ferrara Manufacturing produces garments worn on the runways of New York and Paris, as well as clothing worn by American Olympians and the U.S. military. Located in Manhattan’s Garment District, Ferrara Uniform is a new division of the company focusing specifically on uniforms made in the USA, and led by Gabrielle Ferrara, the COO at Ferrara Manufacturing and daughter of founders Carolyn and Joseph Ferrara. The motherdaughter team of Gabrielle and Carolyn aim to be an innovative force in

Above left: A $1.2 million expansion by Allegiance Flag Supply will add 25 new jobs. Above right: Standard Textile’s investment in Union County, S.C., includes a new rapid prototyping center similiar to its Prototype Production Center at its headquarters in Cinncinnati.

the industry and have developed a proprietary custom-fit technology designed to dress women of all shapes and sizes. The company continues to grow, and with a recent expansion to a facility in Long Island City, Ferrara Manufacturing plans to continue increase in capacity and hiring more employees.

Editor’s Choice Not every investment in U.S. textiles needs to be in the tens of millions of dollars to be impactful or symbolic of what it means to be a member of the U.S. textile industry. When reviewing the many investments made over the past year, one stood out. Allegiance Flag Supply, a producer of American flags, announced plans to expand operations in North Charleston, S.C. The company’s $1.2 million investment will create 25 new jobs. Founded in 2018, Allegiance Flag Supply utilizes American-sourced materials and seamstresses to produce highquality flags that can withstand outside elements. The company’s expansion will consolidate its operations to include a self-sustainable sew shop and distribution center which packages and ships products across the country. TW

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TEXTILE EDUCATION

Janet Brady, director, Jefferson University’s Bruner Materials Characterization Laboratory, explaining some of the lab’s capabilities.

A Textile Education,

Circa 2022

Part two of Textile World’s two-part feature on textile education focuses on alternatives to the college and university offerings

By Jim Kaufmann, Contributing Editor

“TT

he need for well-trained men and women to meet the demands of a growing textile industry…” are the first words of a Textile World article published some 20 years ago (See “Making the Grade,” TW, January 2002). If written today, that sentence likely would conclude with words reflecting a heightened awareness and fastgrowing urgency for training options in order to generate viable candidates to fill the numerous textile industry job openings. As both the United States and global textile industries re-emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with an invigorated economy, but faced with an aging workforce

(see “What Do We Do When All the Old Guys and Girls Are Gone,” TW, September 2017) coupled with what some are referring to as the “great resignation,” human resource and plant managers are scrambling to find, hire and train able bodied workers for their locations. As a result, affirmed by Sam Buff, vice president and general manager at the

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Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network (MTIN), Gastonia, N.C., “training is getting hot!” Training needs are indeed getting hotter specific to today’s textile industry. This realization has prompted many of the colleges and universities referenced in part I of this feature (See “A Textile Education, Circa 2022, TW , Jan/Feb 2022) , as well as several textile industry organizations to build upon their current program offerings specific to textiles. What follows is a brief discussion of alternatives for gaining a targeted knowledge of textiles and the industry without the need to acquire a formal textiles degree.

So Many Types And Options By definition, training relates to the act of teaching people a particular skill set. Perhaps reflecting the ever-growing breadth of the textile industry, today’s iterations of training can range in scope from how to properly drive a forklift to a basic introduction of the textile industry or

more detailed specifics of how to operate precision equipment such as complex spinning or high-speed knitting machines. The variety of topics and training available can accommodate someone who is completely new to the textile industry, someone looking for a refresher on one aspect of the industry, or someone knowledgeable about the textile industry who is looking to learn about a different industry sector or piece of equipment. As alternatives to a formal textile degreed program, these offerings include casual programs or presentations at trade shows; training courses offered by industry organizations; classes offered by colleges or universities; and highly detailed operator and technician training offered by major textile machine manufacturers. Most training is offered in the form of webinars, online tutorials, workshops, formal classwork ranging from a one-hour class to multiple several week-long courses, and apprenticeships and hands-on lab work with personalized trainers and mentors.

Government Interest The U.S. Government, and in particular the Department of Defense (DOD) — a major customer and consumer of untold amounts of textile products — has in recent years taken an interest in maintaining and even upgrading the U.S. textile industry. The Berry Amendment — a statutory requirement restricting the DOD from purchasing textiles produced outside of the United States — certainly invigorated segments of the textile industry. More recently, the DOD through numerous Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants and by providing grant funds to establish the Cambridge, Mass.-based Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) organization in 2016, has worked to advance textile


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technologies as well as revitalize U.S. textile manufacturing. AFFOA’s charge involves building a rather complex, yet collaborative ecosystem “across academia, industry and government partners” that addresses the many “grand challenges” presented to the U.S. textile industry. Segments of focus include developing systems-level solutions, rapid prototyping and transitioning technologies, many geared towards developing advanced e-textiles products. An important component of these endeavors includes “inspiring, preparing and growing the future advanced textile workforce pipeline in the U.S.” As a result, AFFOA is developing programs specific to education requirements, working with the textile industry and establishing partnerships with various universities — including NC State, U Mass – Lowell, Drexel, Cornell and MIT — to align educational opportunities and industry recognized credentials.

College, University Non-Degreed Offerings It is fair to say that most colleges and universities currently offer some form of training specific to textiles, fashion, design and engineering. “Jefferson does offer a more traditional ‘textiles 101’ type class, but the bulk of our training requests currently are more customized to a company or group’s specific needs,” offered Marcia Weiss, director, Textile Design Programs at Thomas Jefferson University. “Because of our history as a textile institution and our on-campus lab facilities, training courses can be patterned to include weaving, knitting, nonwoven and jacquard design and execution, digital printing and physical testing elements.” These offerings are mostly non-credit courses focusing primarily on the skill sets and technologies targeted for learning. According to Weiss, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing restricted access to college campuses temporarily impacted the extent of textile training. “With COVID, a lot of in-person trainings were slowed, cancelled or moved

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INDA offers on-demand, virtual and in-person training options on topics specific to nonwovens from a variety of industry experts including Chris Plotz, INDA’s director of Education and Technical Affairs.

on-line,” Weiss noted. “There are online training apps that span all facets of textiles, but it’s really just not the same as hands-on, in-person training. There’s truly no substitute for handson learning when it comes to textiles.” While expanding on different resources available at Jefferson and possibly of potential interest to those involved in biomedical textile applications, Weiss referenced Jefferson’s Institute of Bioprocessing (JIB). “JIB is also a full-service development and training organization for biotechnologies. It offers product development, testing and evaluation capabilities as well as training and credentialed programs. And we can certainly complement it from a textiles perspective or vice versa.” The Zeis Textiles Extension (ZTE), an element of NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles, offers an assortment of training and certification classes in textiles and Lean Six-Sigma methodologies. It also provides prototyping and pilot production services through the school’s textile laboratories, which include spun yarns, knitting, weaving, nonwovens, dyeing and finishing, and physical testing. “We also are developing a new textile fundamentals course consisting of 16 micro courses broken down into different modules that is expected to launch formally in the fall,” noted

ZTE Director Andre West. “We’ve seen some gun-shyness throughout the industry due to employee turnover during present times. Companies are asking, ‘Do we invest in an employee’s training knowing they may shift to another position or leave the company?’ So, we’re breaking this program down into component parts because you may just need specific areas, which will make it faster and easier to obtain with a reduced commitment of time and investment.” A big impediment continually facing the textile industry is labor and identifying new population segments to tap into for new employees, which directly affects training efforts. ZTE, through a research grant funded by a DOD/AFFOA, is working to build workforce development ecosystems in order to increase employee counts and commitments. “We’re being driven by industry needs which directly feed into DOD needs,” said Melissa Sharp, ZTE’s associate director. “Through this grant and working with Gaston College’s Textile Technology Center, we are employing gap and needs analysis techniques to identify non-traditional labor pools. After identifying these segments, we’ll be able to broaden who we reach out to and better understand their needs towards providing stable employment foundations, an element of which will

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The 2022 attendees at Gaston College’s New Apprenticeship 321 orientation.

likely include building more flexibility into our training methods.” Gaston College recently introduced the Textile Academy, which along with its Textile Technology Center, is revamping all textilerelated programs and training classes. “Initially, the curriculum will be driven by our ‘champion companies’ and their pain points, but as we progress, we’ll be able to adjust the curriculum and content thru feedback from the participating companies and individuals to make sure we’re addressing their collective needs,” said Emily Hansley, Gaston’s director of Customized Training. “Textiles require rather specific skill sets and the demand for training is certainly there. Our goal is to provide a feeder system for better trained, more qualified talent to the industry.” College track programs kick off in June and the general training options with a variety of class offerings, available through the Textile Academy, are slated to begin in the fall. In addition to its training activities, Gaston College also offers a unique alternative — the Apprenticeship 321 program. Established in 2015, the program’s goal is to “cultivate highly skilled workers for small to large companies who can enter the workforce immediately upon completing the program.” To date, 108 individuals have completed the program. There are currently 68 apprentices and 25 youth apprentices in training at Gaston, ranging in age from 18 to 62. The youth apprentices are typically high school juniors and seniors who gain exposure to companies looking to hire while also learning specific skill sets. “The program really offers the best of both worlds,” suggested Jill Hen-

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drix, Gaston’s director, Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning. “The company selects the individual, hires them and enters them into our apprenticeship program, also identifying a ‘mentor’ for the employee to ‘keep them safe.’ Collectively, the program is selected with related instruction, then we manage it through completion including handling the paperwork, associated standards and documentation.” Successful apprentices can qualify for nationally recognized certifications, academic credentials from Gaston College and a National Career Readiness Certificate. A variety of occupations are currently being offered and a textile-based occupation track is in development. It should be noted that for many of the options mentioned, costs can vary depending on the content and complexity. There may be scholarships, grants, financial assistance and possibly company sponsorships available to lessen any tuition concerns.

Industry Organization Offerings Several industry organizations also have established a variety of branded offerings specific to their membership’s interests. The Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) is involved from both the academics and professional/industry perspectives. AATCC sponsors student chapters at several universities, which provide members with access to digital labs, discounts for conferences, scholarships and grants. On the industry side, AATCC hosts a variety of conferences, workshops

and other textile events, each of which provide avenues for education and training activities. Offerings include digital labs focused on textile and color technologies, processing equipment, quality systems and testing standards. Workshops are more in-depth programs and target those looking to learn something new or refresh their knowledge. Formal conferences tend to be topic specific, which include its annual conference and participation in other organization’s conferences. Also, in 2020, AATCC held its first Textile Discovery Summit, an annual event covering a broad range of textile related topics. The next summit will be held in Charlotte, October 4-6, 2022. The Cary, N.C.-based Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) also offers an assortment of training and education offerings to those interested in learning more about nonwovens. “Education and training in general are critical to textiles and nonwovens,” said Chris Plotz, INDA’s director of Education and Technical Affairs and an Adjunct Professor at MIT. “We offer ondemand, virtual and in-person training options on topics specific to nonwovens technologies and applications. Onsite classroom training is conducted at our Cary, N.C., location and we partner with the Nonwovens Institute (NWI) at NC State for hands-on training options.” INDA, AATCC and other related organizations are basically full-service development sources with subject matter experts and a real world understanding of industry segments. These organizations, as well as the colleges and universities involved in textile industry segments, are generally able to provide a great source of industry knowledge, trends and opportunities through their conferences, white papers, professional services, education/training and apprenticeship offerings. “We’re all always looking to expand interest in the textiles and nonwovens industry and coursework that can spur your senses is always better!” concluded Plotz. TW


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period during the previous year, standing at a sales value of over 5.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion). Considering both brands’ continued success within an industry where “fast fashion” is widely criticized and where consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainable aspect of their purchases, how have ZARA and H&M adapted their strategies?

Investing In Quality

H&M Versus Zara: Are Premium Fabrics On The Rise? A recent report compiled by Lectra used Retviews automated benchmarking solution to examine successful strategies in a changing fast-fashion industry. TW Special Report

I

n a changing fashion industry, consumer expectations and priorities are shifting, and new opportunities are emerging, driving leading brands to innovate. Factors such as the growing prominence of digital channels, supply chain disruptions and increased social and environmental mindfulness, are shaping the industry’s future. Taking this into consideration, how are leading brands keeping up with the evolving industry and staying ahead of the competition? Two giants, ZARA and H&M continuously lead apparel retail and have successfully bounced

back following the global pandemic. Zara’s parent company Inditex recorded net sales of 11.9 billion euros ($13.2 billion), nearly 8.5 billion euros ($9.4 billion) of which originated from Zara alone, in the first half of 2021. The Spain-based company’s most recent collections even showcased a sales increase 9-percent higher than its 2019 pre-pandemic levels during the same period. H&M Group, parent company of H&M also moved towards a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, with a fourth quarter sales increase of 8 percent in comparison to the same

ZARA has differentiated its strategy in the past year and has ventured into the introduction of higher end, premium collections such as its Studio Collection or the launch of “ZARA Origins,” its premium concept collection. Partnerships have also been a part of the brand’s strategy this year with its popular limited-edition collaborations with Dutch collective Kassl Editions and South Koreabased streetwear brand ADER Error. As consumers are gravitating towards investing in timeless and versatile pieces, the Spanish brand increased the share of premium collections and pieces in its assortment by 17 percent throughout 2021, far more than H&M, whose existing premium collection grew by only 2 percent throughout the past year. Placing an emphasis on premium pieces this year, ZARA is leading the growth in higher quality apparel.

Moving Towards Premium Fabrics Looking at the fabrics that are most prominent in each brand’s assortment, there is an evident similarity between the two, both ZARA and H&M placing the largest emphasis on cotton and polyester, including recycled versions of both fabrics, each making up between 20 percent and 30 percent of the brands’ fabric mix. However, as the two brands have amped up their higher quality collections, premium fabrics have also gained momentum within both brands’ assortments, namely cashmere, wool and leather. Although H&M has a higher share of products containing cashmere in its assort-

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Page 3

Fabric Mix 3.98%

0.82%

11.2%

9.6%

1.42% 1.74%

30.08%

9.76%

0.2% 2.26%

32.28%

9.2%

5.26% 5.38%

4.86%

31.6%

23.46%

6.82%

H&M

Zara

Cotton Polyester Elasthane Nylon Synthetic Viscose Leather Wool Other

Premium Fabric Mix 2020 vs 2021 2020

2021

Variation

Cashmere

0.25%

0.36%

44%

Wool

1.60%

2.26%

41%

Leather

3.43%

3.98%

16%

Cashmere

0.42%

0.54%

29%

Wool

1.28%

1.74%

36%

Leather

0.62%

0.82%

32%

ZARA

H&M

Source: Retviews, the Automated Benchmarking Solution for Fashion Brands and Retailers

ment, ZARA is close behind, and is significantly increasing investments in premium fabrics, thus solidifying its move towards a more premium positioning.

Sustainability H&M has kept its focus towards increased sustainability and has developed new initiatives such as its “Innovation Stories” with innovative textiles and design, the Looop recycling system as well as its Circular Design Tool. In 2021, the giant’s sustainable conscious collection made up 21% of its total assortment, whilst ZARA’s Join Life collection repre-

34

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sented 16 percent of its total collection. Conveying ambitious goals, the brands are moving towards increased circularity and sustainable innovation, with H&M taking the lead. However, will this be sufficient to stay ahead of competitors or will the brands need to make more significant changes to put behind the negative connotation of being deemed a “fast fashion” brand?

Premium Pricing Evolution The mass market giants have both increased the size of their premium assortment and with that, these same collections have become more expen-

sive. The use of higher quality fabrics and the collaboration with high-end brands have evidently contributed to an increased price point, with ZARA’s premium pieces being 19 percent more expensive than the previous year. H&M’s premium collection growth has taken a slower pace, and its pricing has only gone up by 3.2 percent throughout the past year. ZARA, quickly expanding its collection of premium quality pieces and collaborations this past year, has seen a major change in pricing for the segment.

How Much More Expensive Is Premium? Where does premium quality stand when compared to non-premium collections and is it significantly more expensive? H&M showcases an average price for its premium collection of over three times the price of its regular collection. ZARA’s premium collection stands at a lower average price than H&M, at 83 percent more expensive than its regular collection, which itself has a higher average price than H&M’s regular collection. With regards to maximum prices, ZARA holds a higher price point for both its regular and premium collections than H&M. Unlike H&M, whose maximum prices do not differ between premium and regular collections, ZARA has a higher maximum price for its premium collection. Within its regular collection, ZARA continuously keeps its prices higher than its Swedish competitor.

The Effect Of The Supply Chain On Prices Considering the pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions that have started to take a hold of the fashion industry, ZARA and H&M have significantly increased prices throughout the past several months. However, the two brands have very different business models. Zara matches consumer demand with small production numbers, thus bypassing heavy supply chain struggles and allowing the brand to stay on the cusp of each emerging trend.


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Premium Average Prices 2021 vs. 2022 (in Euros)

Average Price Variation (in Euros) 36

38

38 23%

34

2020

2021

Variation

ZARA

32

60

19%

H&M

64

66

3.2%

31

13% 26

26

September

October

November

24

August

ZARA

Average Prices Premium vs. Regular Collections 83%

27

25

December

H&M

Maximum Prices Premium vs. Regular Collections 12%

173% 66

569

60

507 0% 299

33

299

24

ZARA

H&M

Premium

ZARA

Premium

Regular

H&M, sourcing a large part of its products in Asia, has been faced with supply chain disruptions and delays, and indicates an overall 13-percent increase in average price, within the past five months. In ZARA’s case, the increase in its average price was a strong 23 percent, as the brand significantly increased its share of premium fabrics — a major contribution to its price increase, further driven up by the raw material price increase for textiles such as cotton, wool, and recycled fabrics.

A Digital Future There was a strong pivot towards the digital realm throughout the past year, with an increased prominence of the metaverse in the fashion industry. Key brands like ZARA and

H&M

H&M are venturing into the metaverse with their digital collections and collaborations. ZARA launched its digital collection with South Korean brand ADER Error, and H&M launched its own sustainability-focused digital collection within the popular game, Animal Crossing. Considering the current change in consumer behavior, pandemicinduced logistic issues and the increased need for sustainability, market leaders ZARA and H&M are staying ahead of the curve and adapting their strategies, allowing them to outpace competitors. Where ZARA has shifted focus towards a more premium positioning reaching a wider consumer base, H&M has upped the ante on its sustainable initiatives.

Regular

Understanding what lies behind the apparel giants’ strategies allows brands to stay on top of the industry. Thanks to Retviews data, fashion retailers can monitor competitors’ assortment, pricing and discount strategies in real time and take the lead in the changing fashion industry. TW Editor’s Note: Retviews is an automated benchmarking solution that allows fashion brands and retailers to monitor competitors’ data on assortments, pricing and discounts in real-time. It helps them pinpoint the perfect retail strategy with the right product at the right time and price, save time on competition analysis and make decisions based on accurate, actionable data.

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People Peter Zimmer recently passed away shortly after celebrating his 98th Zimmer birthday. Zimmer spent some 70 years of his life developing new and revolutionary ideas for textile printing, including rotary-screen-printing technology, a magnetic roll rod system and the Chromotronic — the first digital carpet ink-jet printer. Even in the last decade of his life, Zimmer continued working developing a digital printing/ dyeing system for fiber strands and sliver. His achievements are his legacy. Ultrafabrics, Tarrytown, N.J., has named Jennifer Hendren senior director of product development. In addition, Theo Haag, based in the Netherlands, was hired as European sales director. Jenni Brown was appointed head of sales for Northern and Eastern Europe for global workwear manufacturer Carrington Textiles. Schaumburg, Ill.-based Composites One recently named Leon Garoufalis president and CEO, and Al Dobbeck executive vice president and COO. The company’s former CEO Steve Dehmlow will continue as chairman of the board.

36

Sagee Aran was named to lead product development and commercialization initiatives for Israel-based nylon 6,6 producer Nilit. In addition, new hire Michelle Lea will direct worldwide marketing programs for the company. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based X-Rite and Pantone LLC have named Chris Brooks president of X-Rite. Ruth Farrell was promoted to general manager for Kingsport, Farrell Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co.’s Textile Business. Farrell is based in Switzerland. England-based Gen 2 Carbon, formerly known as ELG Carbon Fibre, has named Tim King technical sales consultant. Ocean State Innovations, Portsmouth, R.I., has named Geoff Senko senior vice president of sales. He will be responsible for leading sales in North America and globally while supporting customers in various market segments. Ashley Goldsmith, executive vice president and chief people officer of Workday Inc., was elected to the board of directors at Kontoor Brands Inc., Greensboro, N.C.

MARCH/APRIL 2022 TextileWorld.com

Mannington Commercial, Calhoun, Ga., has appointed Shane Totten to the new role of director of sustainability. Peter B. McKernan was recently promoted to director of Supply Chain Management for Herculite Products Inc., Emigsville, Pa. He is responsible for managing all corporate planning and forecasting, and planned capacity scheduling. Italy-based Kemin Industries has named Valter Dompè president of its Garmon Chemicals textile auxiliaries business unit. Dompè replaces Kimberly Nelson who has moved into a new role in another Kemin Industries’ business unit Bast Fibre Technologies Inc., Victoria, British Columbia, named Posa James Posa president and CEO. Company Cofounder and Former CEO Noel Hall has transitioned to executive chair. Dr. Jonathan Goff was promoted from chief technology officer to president of Gelest Inc., Morrisville, Pa. Delta Apparel Inc., Greenville, S.C., has named Simone Walsh

vice president, CFO and treasurer. Jeffrey W. Bruner — president of Hemp Black and 1973 graduate of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce — will be honored with a Leaders of Innovation Medal from Thomas Jefferson University at the end of April. The medal is presented to graduates who “make significant or trendsetting contributions to education, industry or other professional fields that exemplify Thomas Jefferson University’s mission and innovative spirit.” The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), Cary, N.C., named experienced policy advocate Jennifer “Jen” Greenamoyer director of Government Affairs. Chadd Coltrain was named director of Strategic Global Sales for Culp Home Fashions, the mattress fabrics division of Culp Inc., High Point, N.C. Following the acquisition of England-based MagnaColors by Avient Corp., Gustavo Figueroa has transitioned from Avient to MagnaColours’ team as Business Development manager for the Americas. Avery Dennison, Glendale, Calif., named Deon Stander president and COO. TW


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Calendar APRIL 21-22: Synthetic Yarn and Fabric Association (SYFA) Spring 2022 conference, Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.Visit thesyfa.org. 24-26: Industrial Fabric Association International’s (IFAI’s) Outlook Conference, Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs,Va. Visit usindustrialfabrics.ifai.com/events/ outlook-conference. 26-27: Elementary Nonwovens Training Course, organized by the Association of the Nonwovens Fabrics Industry (INDA), INDA headquarters, Cary, N.C. Visit inda.org.

MAY 1-3: Southern Textile Research Conference (STRC), Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C.Visit thestrc.org.

1-3: 2022 pro:Americas Annual Conference, organized by Americas Apparel Producers’ Network (AAPN), Miami, Fla.Visit aapnetwork.net.

America, Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, N.C.Visit sampeamerica.org.

3-5: JEC World 2022, organized by JEC Group, Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center,Villepinte, France. Visit jec-world.events.

31-June 2: Emitex/Simatex/ Confemaq, organized by Messe Frankfurt Argentina, Costa Salguero Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Visit industriatextilexpo.ar. messefrankfurt.com/buenosaires.

10-11: National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.Visit ncto.org.

31-June 3: FESPA Global Print Expo 2022, Messe Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Visit fespa.com.

17-19:Techtextil North America/ Texprocess Americas, organized by Messe Frankfurt, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Ga. Visit techtextil-north-america.us. messefrankfurt.com; and texprocess-americas.us.messefrankfurt.com.

JUNE

23-26: SAMPE 2022 Conference & Exhibition, organized by SAMPE North

7-9: Absorbent Hygiene Training Course, organized by INDA, INDA headquarters, Cary, N.C.Visit inda.org. 9-11: Outdoor Retailer Summer, organized by OIA, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo. Visit outdoorretailer.com. TW

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A close up of Circuitex® fabric

Quality Fabric Of The

Month By Rachael S. Davis, Executive Editor

CONTACTS:

For more information about Circuitex®, visit noblebiomaterials.com

Go online to TextileWorld.com for archived Quality Fabric articles.

Circuitex® fibers

38

Circuitex®: Conductive Shielding Noble Biomaterials’ Circuitex® can shield against high-frequency energy waves from directed-energy weapons.

CC

ircuitex® was designed by Scranton, Pa.-based Noble Biomaterials Inc. for multi-spectral energy management. While the technology is not new, the company recently announced that Circuitex fabric and foam technologies are capable of reflecting high-frequency energy waves similar to those presumed responsible for the Havana Syndrome attacks produced by directed-energy weapons (DEW). Circuitex advanced materials can move electrical energy and data through soft surface materials without the assistance of wires, making them suitable as either a conductive energy material or a conductive shielding material. The highly conductive materials are also flexible and super lightweight. According to Noble, the shielding effects of Circuitex perform across a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum from 30 megaHertz up to 30 gigaHertz. The genesis of Noble Biomaterials was in using silver to metalize fibers for antimicrobial consumer apparel applications. The company spent two years developing its proprietary technology, which bonds pure silver to the surface of a polymer. The innovation allowed Noble to capitalize on the antimicrobial effects of silver for apparel applications. From those beginnings, the company’s technologies have expanded into a variety of medical and antimicrobial products supplied to the U.S. Military and healthcare industry, while its consumer anti-odor business continues to thrive. “We have always been in the intelligent fabrics business,” said Allon Cohne, chief marketing officer, Noble Biomaterials. “From preventing infections to eliminating

MARCH/APRIL 2022 TextileWorld.com

odor to improving telecommunications, our technology adapts to provide a myriad of benefits. The more we learned about the technology, the more obvious it became that it would be a perfect platform to manage electromagnetic energy waves in order to solve some of the most challenging military and aerospace issues.” Circuitex is typically used in applications requiring more than antimicrobial properties. Copper and other antioxidant minerals can be bonded to the polymer as well as silver depending on the required characteristics. “The core technology used for the Circuitex products is similar to the antimicrobial offerings, but we use a variety of polymer substrates, mineral-based active ingredients, and bonding techniques to optimize for very specific, and different, performance requirements” Cohne said. Circuitex is available in fiber, fabric or foam options. “Most commonly, customers will incorporate our continuous filament fiber into fabrics, or simply purchase fully metalized fabrics from us, depending on their requirements” Cohne noted. “Foam could be used as a backing or layer in a laminate.” In response to the growing threat of Havana Syndrome, Noble developed passive and active mitigation systems with the ability to counter DEW attacks in fixed and mobile locations. “Circuitex is proven effective in missioncritical military and aerospace applications,” said Joel Furey, founder and chief commercial officer, Noble Biomaterials. “Noble Biomaterials has spent years developing multi-spectral energy management systems for security and protection. Whether the objective is to transfer or shield energy, our portfolio of products is uniquely suited to deal with the challenges of directed energy.” TW


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