The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many of us to change the way we work, socialize, and even how we dress. With people now spending a majority of their time at home, their clothing preferences have evolved to comfortable, durable and sustainable apparel that can be worn for many occasions. Recognizing the shift in market dynamics, Lenzing teamed up with another fiber producer, Hyosung, which started their first collaboration in 2019, to develop “Home Everywhere”, a collection of performance fabrics that feature eco-friendly fibers.
We connected with Andreas Guertler, Senior Manager of Global Business Development Active Sportswear at Lenzing, and Judy Chen, Head of Global Business Development, Innerwear at Lenzing, to discuss the Hyosung collaboration featuring TENCEL™ branded fibers and what the future holds for Lenzing.
Q: What prompted another partnership between Lenzing and Hyosung and how has the process differed? What is the significance of this collaboration?
Andreas: At Lenzing, we have always enjoyed collaborating with like-minded industry partners like Hyosung to promote greater sustainability through textile innovations. With similar values, we strive to develop more eco-fiber collections that enhance Hyosung’s sustainability offerings and meet new consumer demands. The significance of this partnership is featuring Hyosung’s creora® Color+ and TENCEL™ branded modal fibers with Eco Color technology. With this fabric collaboration, garments can retain color vibrancy after multiple washes, use 50% less water and energy, and 60% less carbon footprint.
Judy: COVID-19 did not exist during our previous collaboration. Due to the pandemic, we have encountered more challenges than before, such as communication hurdles, shipping issues and virtual product launches. For this collection, we aimed to diversify and optimize the potential of TENCEL™ Modal fibers into both inner and active wear catalogues. The results were fantastic! More than 95% of the collection adopted TENCEL™ Modal fibers, leveraging our different technologies – such as Eco Soft, Eco Color and Micro-technologies.
Q: What was the inspiration and story behind the “Home Everywhere” collection?
Judy: The collection name – “Home Everywhere”, was derived from the lifestyle shifts brought on by COVID-19. Knowing that consumers are spending more time at home due to quarantine restrictions, comfort is the ultimate consideration when it comes to choosing everyday apparel. The changes in people’s work and exercise routines dictated new clothing needs. This collection provides cozy home-wear and athleisure with unrivaled sustainable credentials.
Q: What was the focus and challenge? How did the team overcome these when developing new eco-friendly performance fiber technologies featuring TENCEL™ branded fibers?
Andreas: We had great success with our previous collaboration in 2019. Bby taking what we learnt, we were able to have another smooth sailing experience this time around. Hyosung’s range of multi-function spandex, polyester and nylon fibers complement TENCEL™ branded fibers nicely. This collection is comprised of three fabric concept groups – “Deep, Rich Color,” “Soft Touch,” and “Functional” – with most being crafted at the Hyosung Fashion Design Center. Prioritizing one’s wellbeing is our utmost priority. Therefore, this fabric collection is designed to be good for the body, the person and the environment.
Q: What were some of the key roles Lenzing played in developing this collection? Which brands and/or designers will be using the new fiber collections in their products?
Andreas: Hyosung’s UK team approached Lenzing intending to expand on the success sparked by our previous collaboration. This time, Lenzing was essential in developing the fabric books. Crafted in Taipei, fabrics and fibers were produced with mill partners as well as Hyosung’s Fashion Design Center. As COVID-19 has impacted our ability to unveil new collections in-person, these fabric books will be published on the online platforms of various tradeshows. This enables the collection to reach consumers across different markets, introduce new trends and advocate for sustainability.
Judy: “Home Everywhere” was first revealed at Interfilière at the end of September and will continue rolling out to push fabric developments to the vast market. Brands and designers who are interested can contact Lenzing to further connect with mill partners and acquire fabrics swatches. In the meantime, we are developing materials for upcoming online webinars jointly hosted by Hyosung and Lenzing to reveal more details on this collection. The first virtual presentation will be hosted on October 23 in the North Asia region.
Q: In your opinion, how do you see Lenzing’s future fiber collections for loungewear and activewear evolving post-COVID-19? Will consumer demand for comfortable, sustainable and versatile textiles remain strong? Have you observed any changes so far?
Andreas: Certainly, the demand for active and loungewear will remain strong and we will continue to see an integration with that and home wear. From my conversations with European sports brands, there is a consensus that the rise in athleisure, particularly for yoga and hiking, is due to people caring more about their health. In regard to materials, sustainability is now the trend, while there is a lesser demand for ordinary Polyester and Cotton. The trend has moved towards natural products like yarns and fibers that preserve water and energy, which goes back to the core of this collection. “Home Everywhere” is a solution to new trend demands.
Q: What is your vision for driving sustainability in the loungewear and activewear industry for 2021?
Andreas: Output should equal input. Achieving a true circular economy is crucial to establishing renewable and recyclable textiles as the industry standard. Consumer behavior will continue to change, but the demand for comfortable and sustainable apparel is here to stay. For us at Lenzing, producing our fibers with REFIBRATM technology will remain a priority to facilitate the adoption of circularity among the inner and active wear segments to reduce water and energy footprint.
Judy: COVID-19 has also caused an economic downturn, resulting in consumers being more cautious with their spending. Conscious and thought-out purchases are often high-quality, low-cost products. They, therefore, have the ability to utilize new technologies to experiment with natural materials and product design, which is paramount to our future in driving greater sustainability.