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Knitting / Apparel

Fiber Focus

Part 1 of a two-part feature focusing on the apparel fiber industry including new fibers and fabrics, style forecasts, and color trends. Look for Part 2 in the August issue of

Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

Fiber Focus Part 1 of a two-part feature focusing on the apparel fiber industry including new fibers and fabrics, style forecasts, and color trends. Look for Part 2 in the August issue of Textile World.Throughout the supply chain, companies are creating novelty products that do more, aiming them at niche markets, and getting them to the consumer faster. Today, the focus is on specialty products designed for specific end-uses and on creative ways to market these products. New marketing strategies to boost sales are targeted to direct and indirect customers.New Fiber Variants At NylstarNylstar, Italy, has 11 production facilities around the world, and is Europes largest nylon producer. Its US headquarters are located in Greensboro, N.C. A few years ago, its new $50 million facility came on-line in Martinsville, Va. Equipped with the most advanced technology, including robots, the new plant has an annual capacity to produce 30 to 50 million pounds of nylon. Meryl®, its branded nylon, has about 10 percent of the North American market share.This month, Nylstar is introducing Meryl Mattesse, a collection of super microdenier nylons. Dina Dunn, vice president, marketing, describes Mattesse as ultra-fine, soft and sumptuous with a dull matte appearance for a natural look. Target markets for this new fiber are intimate apparel, activewear and ready-to-wear. It is beginning to sell in Europe for ready-to-wear, said Dunn. In this country, we see it starting in intimates and activewear.MillikenandCompany, Spartanburg, is developing a line of light topweight and fine bottomweight woven fabrics using Mattesse. Knits will be available from Ge-Ray Fabrics Inc. Texollini Inc. and Alexander Fabrics also are working with the fiber. Many of the new fabrics are blended with spandex.Meryl Skinlife, a bacteriostatic fiber, was recently launched in the United States. A Caribbean Basin Initiative- and North American Free Trade Agreement-compliant version of the fiber will be introduced in late July. The major difference between Skinlife and other antibacterials is that Skinlife inhibits growth of bacteria in fabrics, while allowing the skin to maintain a normal bacteria balance.Dunn said Skinlife is infused into the yarns polymer matrix, so it is permanent and wont wash out. Unlike surface post-treatments, there is no danger of migration of chemicals from the fabric to the skin or a reduction in performance over time, she said.The target markets for Meryl Skinlife are circular knits and seamless garments. And it is ideal for the military in the field, Dunn added. When you cant wash your socks for days, with no bacteria growth there is no odor. Sleeping bags are another area she mentioned. Ge-Ray Fabrics, Summit Knitting Mills Inc. and MillikenandCompany are developing fabrics featuring Skinlife. Nilit's New Hosiery FiberIsrael-based Nilit Ltd., manufacturer of nylon 6,6 Sensil®, recently introduced Sensil EverSheer, a yarn specially engineered for covering and protecting spandex. Designed for the sheer hosiery market, it is used to create pantyhose that hug the leg and provide a smooth, elegant look and touch.Molly Kremidas, merchandising manager, Nilit America Corp., Greensboro, said, During production, the interaction of Sensil EverSheer and spandex greatly reduces picks and snags, significantly decreasing waste and increasing productivity. For the woman wearing hosiery products made with this new nylon fiber, this translates into highly desired durability, uniformity, sheerness and a luxurious feel on the leg. For the manufacturer, it means less waste during the production process and a substantial increase in profitability.Another recent product introduction is Sensil Cupelle, a textured yarn that can achieve multicolor effects in one dye bath. It is actually a combination of two newly designed polymers, Sensil Colorwise and Sensil Pastelle. Each of the two nylon 6,6 yarns has been modified in a way that causes it to receive color differently, said Kremidas. Sensil Colorwise yarn accepts regular acidic colorants and rejects the special cationic colorant. Sensil Pastelle acts exactly the opposite way. When these are knitted together in any design, the result is a combination of two distinct and contrasting colors. A variety of patterns can be achieved, be they stripes, inscriptions, segments, jacquards or tonal effects. Adding another yarn to knitted fabrics allows for more than two colors in the same dyeing process, reaching a greater variety of design.

Nilit's Sensil® Cupelle yarn is targeted for seamless apparel and activewear markets, among others.New Ways To Stretch With RadiciSpandexFollowing its acquisition in March 2001 by vertically integrated man-made fiber producer Radici Group, Italy, RadiciSpandex Corp., Fall River, Mass., has dropped its brand names for elastane fibers. Trusting in the global integrity of Radici, customers have confidence working with an unbranded supplier. RadiciSpandex is focused on being the primary supplier to Western Hemisphere markets, said William Girrier, vice president, sales and marketing.We continue to build on the momentum of our most recent product launches, which were S-72, a polyether-based elastane that provides enhanced power and recovery, and S-45, a heat-resistant elastane that allows converters to produce deep, rich colors in a polyester/spandex blend without streaking or spotting.S-72 and S-45 were introduced in 2002. Geared to the activewear market, S-45 is an ideal product for polyester warp knits and circular knits. Available in a full range of apparel fashion deniers, it is engineered to retain its elastic properties after dyeing at temperatures of up to 265°F.RadiciSpandex developed S-72 for the full spectrum of narrow fabrics, including waistbands, lace and piquabrics, bra straps and fitted bed sheets. It is a high-tenacity fiber that offers superb dye receptivity and superior whiteness retention. It has a 600-percent breaking elongation and excellent resistance to acid and caustic solutions. It is available in full-dull and clear lusters.Other popular spandex fibers are S-17B and S-85, both for high-tech athleticwear and stretch woven fabrics. S-17B was developed especially for swimwear. It is chlorine-resistant; and offers protection from environmental and chemical sources, protection against yellowing, and protection from breakdown caused by suntan oil and perspiration exposure.Recently, RadiciSpandex sponsored the fifth edition of the High School of Fashion lndustries (HSFI) Stretch to the Future design scholarship competition. Menswear designer John Varvatos led the judging panel of fashion industry professionals that included fashion and textile journalists, fabric company executives and HSFI faculty members. Seven scholarship prizes totaling $4,000 were awarded.
Dropping the brand-names of its spandex products, RadiciSpandex continues to develop spandex yarns for a variety of products and end-uses.A New Business, Fiber For Dow ChemicalLate last year, The Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., announced the creation of Dow Fiber Solutions, a new business within its global Polyolefins and Elastomers portfolio. Its inaugural product was DOW XLA, a comfort stretch fiber (See Quality Fabric Of The Month, TW, December 2002). The Federal Trade Commission has awarded this fiber a new generic name, lastol.As the newest player in the stretch fiber industry, everyone is watching us very closely to see what direction we will take, said Juan-Carlos Cuadrado, global business director for Dow Fiber Solutions. We are not interested in being all things to all people. We are very focused on the markets where we bring differentiated solutions throughout the value chain.He pointed to four apparel target markets. When it comes to adding stretch to cotton shirts and blouses, garment-washed denim, casual shirts, bottomweights and career- wear and uniforms, there is no other fiber that can offer the processing efficiencies and cotton feel and easy care that consumers demand like Dow XLA.Danville, Va.-based Dan River Inc. has introduced a new chambray of cotton/70-denier XLA fiber. It is woven using core-spun yarns by R.L. Stowe Mills Inc., Belmont, N.C. Dow is working with spinners, mills and knitters in the Americas, Europe and Asia.High Performance From WellmanWellman Inc., Charlotte, has been developing a variety of new products. Recent fiber variants, all copolymers of polyester, are Sensura®, Microdenier Sensura, ComFortrel XP and Spunnaire®. These high-tech fibers provide fabrics with a soft hand, dimensional stability, moisture transportability, ease of dyeing and colorfastness. Sensura is going into casual sportswear, performancewear and outerwear. Microdenier Sensura is a 0.97-denier-per-filament product with a 25-percent higher tenacity than Sensura. It was designed to enable finer yarn counts and to blend with premium cottons. ComFortrel XP gives fabrics a soft, natural hand; has excellent shape retention; and resists pilling, wrinkling, stretching and shrinking. Spunnaire is an optically white fiber.One new application for these high-performance fibers is socks. The softness, moisture management ability, fast-drying properties, shape retention and abrasion resistance are cited as reasons for their success in this market. Moretz Sports Inc. introduced a collection for delivery in Spring 2003. Holofiber, a responsive textile, is a new product from Wellman that works with the bodys own energy system to increase oxygen levels, build strength and accelerate muscle recovery in the human body. It was recently examined in a clinical study conducted by Lawrence A. Lavery, M.D., associate professor in the department of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Loyola University Medical Center and Hines Veterans Administration Hospital, Chicago. Olympic medalist Michellie Jones has been wearing Holofiber products for more than a year. She said, As a professional athlete, you want everything you can possibly find to help get the best performance possible. Thats one of the things I like about Holofiber the fact that it helps with recovery and circulation.Textile Research At Cotton IncorporatedAt Cotton Incorporated, Cary, N.C., product development starts in the field and continues through the supply chain to the final product. Two very recent achievements involve yarn and fabric finishing. An innovative yarn development from Cotton Incorporateds Fiber Processing Research Division has been adopted by Dan River. It allows the production of random slubs using existing equipment without special hardware requirements. For Dan River, a 7-ounce slub adds another dimension to what was a basic twill weave. In development, techniques were used that led to a higher spinning efficiency.The textile research and implementation department at Cotton Incorporated has developed a durable finish for bottomweight fabrics that reduces abrasion and protects denim color. The new durashield has been adopted by Wrangler® for its new Riggs Workwear by Wrangler line. Mount Vernon Mills Inc., Greenville, fabric supplier to Wrangler for this project, implemented the finish at the plant level.The durashield fabric is a 14.75-ounce 3/1 right-hand twill. Attributes of the finish are: improved lubrication that helps delocalize fabric stress; a protective coating from oxidation, ultraviolet and hydrolytic damage; permanent softness; better surface appearance; and improved color retention.Cotton Incorporateds ongoing fabric development efforts to create new and/or improved fabrics continue to service the textile and manufacturing industries. Our ongoing research produces innovations in yarns, design and finishing. This is a perfect example of working with our industry to constantly improve the quality of cotton fabrics while offering the consumer more fashion choices, said Mike Tyndall, senior director, Americans mill marketing, global product marketing.FR From KoSaAt KoSa, Houston, the newest development is Avora®Plus, a flame-retardant (FR) fiber with increased performance. Suzette McHugh, Avora FR market manager, said AvoraPlus, introduced in late 2002, was originally developed to sell in Europe, where FR standards are more stringent. It is selling to global contract markets for upholstery and drapery fabrics. Fabrics containing AvoraPlus have good dimensional stability, are wrinkle- and mildew-resistant, and are suitable for commercial laundering. June 2003