From The Editor: Textiles On The Move

By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

Last March, Textile World featured an article titled “U.S. Textiles: Investments Abound,” which received a great deal of positive feedback from TW readers.

It’s not that the challenges facing U.S. textiles have evaporated, but the article picked up on a trend that appeared to begin during the third quarter of 2013.

In general, TW was receiving a greater than usual volume of press releases concerning investments in new plant and equipment, expansions and mergers, and acquisitions. The releases featured a strong mix of U.S. companies, as well as foreign direct investment in U.S. plant and equipment.

It was an anecdotal study at best, but having written about plant closings and layoffs for some time, it was refreshing to acknowledge the positive trend and counter all the naysayers that often say, “There is no textile industry left in the U.S.”

This issue of TW features a follow-up article titled, “U.S. Textiles: Investment Continues”— and it would appear the trend does in fact continue. Virtually every sector of the industry has some positive news to offer — from apparel and technical textiles to weaving and nonwovens — textile leaders are upgrading facilities, strengthening their companies with acquisitions and putting new technologies to work.

Certainly the industry has changed. Some say it is smaller, more nimble and focused on higher dollar products — and that is probably a fair assessment in some sectors. But the companies featured in the article, in many cases, have been industry players for years. There is some new blood, but the majority have long histories and have managed to keep their technologies fresh and find successful markets for their products.

There also is good news about collaboration and innovation. How about Cone Denim’s recent partnerships with two companies —  DSM Dyneema and Westex by Milliken — to develop innovative performance denim products?

The consolidations also draw some attention; one of the boldest being Archroma. With the “… heritage from Hoechst, Sandoz, Clariant” and a 49-percent stake in M. Dohmen, Archroma announced plans to acquire BASF’s textile chemicals business.

That is a significant roll-up, which is supported by New York City-based SK Capital Partners. Gildan Activewear also is on the move, building new production facilities in Honduras and purchasing one of its best customers, Comfort Colors, for $100 million. The company wants to expand in the “growing fashion basics segment,” and Comfort Colors will take it there.

It is great to observe an active business environment in an ITMA year. With machinery and technology suppliers preparing for the unveiling of technological improvements and innovations, one hopes that after an ITMA year, next March’s issue will feature even more investment by U.S. manufacturers.

To the naysayers: Yes, there is a U.S. textile industry!

March/April 2015