Trend Report - July 2008

Fabricating A Better World
By Raye Rudie

PrimaLoft offers a new yarn that is a blend of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent PrimaLoft fibers. It enhances the fabric's feel, gives it a luxury sheen and increases the drying rate.

The momentum in fiber and fabric technology drives toward creating products that benefit the environment and the people who use them

According to a discussion on green living sponsored by Traditional Home in May, panel moderator Amy Elbert, the magazine’s architecture editor, observed that the percentage of consumers recently interviewed by the publication who want “green” or eco-friendly products jumped to 80 percent up from 20 percent a year ago. Manufacturers have also found that as prices keep going up, products must have added value to sell, such as comfort and ease benefits. It’s no surprise then that many of the fiber and fabric technology developments center on creating eco- and people-friendly benefits.

Valdese Weavers has made a commitment to sustainability in its products and production. Zack Taylor, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, explains that the company has developed the Valor brand to reduce environmental impact. Dyes used for Valor eliminate the need for acetic acid. Constructions used require no additional finishes. The company’s beam-dyeing technology ensures consistent quality and less waste than package dyeing. After reusing the hot water from its dye baths to preheat its dye cycles, the water is returned to the municipal system cleaner than when it arrived.

The Sunset chair designed by Christophe Tillet for Cappelini is made with Ingeo bio-fabric.

Taylor explains that products can be customized for clients as they define their concept of eco-responsibility. Last year, Valdese made a commitment to use Reprieve recycled polyester yarns in polyester warps in contract. Now there are different design solutions for responsible products and the company can use pure or combinations of recycled materials and organic contents according to customer need. Regardless of the “green” required, however, there is no sacrifice in terms of aesthetics, color or texture. 

This season the company is introducing bamboo and hemp natural sustainable fibers that can be used alone or in combination with other natural or synthetic fibers. Taylor also notes that customers who buy his firm’s eco-friendly products will find that they don’t have to cost more.

Fabulous Fibers

Fiber companies are working toward ways of reducing waste and preserving natural resources. Shaw Industries, Inc.’s Evergreen Nylon Recycling facility in Augusta, GA, recycles all nylon area rugs from Shaw Living. In addition, area rugs made of Anso nylon will contain recycled content. All Shaw products made of Type 6 nylon are recyclable at the company’s Evergreen Nylon Recycling Facility. 

Kimberly Barta, Shaw Living’s brand manager, notes that style is not compromised when choosing eco-friendly products. “And the consumer doesn’t have to pay more for the recyclable area rugs,” she says.
The nylon area rugs are based on cradle-to-cradle recycling, which means that after its useful life, the product is broken down into its raw building blocks and can be rebuilt over and over again without loss of performance or aesthetic qualities.

Unifi, which introduced its Repreve 100 percent recycled polyester yarn over a year ago, is introducing a new product in August. Bett Anderson, Unifi marketing manager, reports that the company is developing a lighter denier Repreve nylon for contract and home fashions made of post-industrial fiber waste.

The Discovery Channel will feature the manufacturing of Repreve in a television series called “How It’s Made,” which begins in January 2009.

NatureWorks LLC, which produces Ingeo fiber made from a 100 percent annually renewable resource derived from plant sugars, and Sommer Needlepunch, a carpet manufacturer based in France, announce the introduction of Ecopunch, a new eco-carpet made of Ingeo. This is the first carpet created from man-made fiber that comes from a 100 percent annually renewable resource that is not oil. Ingeo is the first polymer to demonstrate a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Synchronicity, Arcada and Blazen from Silver State's Smart Life: Body & Soul Collection are made from recycled and recyclable polyester extruded from PET bottles.

Four companies in the high-end furniture market are also involved in a joint venture to introduce Ingeo bio-fabrics. The companies, Cappellini, Driade, Moroso and Zanotta, present Ingeo Cult Seats, four seating options by renowned designers.

For toweling applications, Lenzing has recently created a new fiber type. Lenzing Modal® LOFT is a coarser fiber at 2.5 dtex, which in a terry construction has additional and enhanced product benefits. It is being developed in terry toweling applications through partnerships in Europe and Turkey. This coarser fiber results in bulkier, stronger loop and softer terry fabrications. Also, the absorbency of the fiber ensures a faster uptake of water and a brighter, more enduring color even after repeated washings.

When blended with cotton fiber or on its own, it produces a superior product to a 100 percent cotton toweling, especially in terms of softness and color.

Lenzing fibers are extracted from plants which convert carbon dioxide and water into wood and pure oxygen through photosynthesis. Lenzing Modal® LOFT comes from nature and returns to it.

According to experts at Lenzing, it is not possible to develop a new fiber every year. What is new are discoveries regarding the performance fiber attributes as the fiber is adopted into new applications, manufacturing processes and end uses.

While some products have no new fibers, they help make a difference in sustainability through recycling. LSI Wallcovering offers 16 new designs in Second-Look recycled vinyl wallcoverings. The company’s three brands, Versa, Cirqa and Plexus, include 20 percent total recycled content with a minimum of 10 percent post-consumer material. These recycled wallcoverings have the same aesthetics, durability and price as non-recycled wallcoverings and can be repeatedly recycled for decades.

Second-Look uses water-based inks, incorporates a mildew-inhibiting agent and is installed with water-based adhesives.

Hector Torres, vice-president of marketing and product development at Perfect Fit, reveals that the company has developed Memory-Fybr. It is a slow-recovery fiber like memory foam. It is highly supportive, resilient and comfortable. It acts like fiberfill and has other attributes such as washability.

The company has an environment-friendly program under its Green Fit umbrella. It uses Eco Spun made of post-consumer plastic products. It now includes Eco-Fybr, pre-consumer waste recycled fibers from its own facility plus purchased recycled materials processed for targeted end uses such as fiberfill. Eco-Fybr fiberfill will be used for Green Fit natural products combined with 100 percent organic cotton and 100 percent bamboo shells.

While Bella-Dura fabrics have been offered by Wearbest Sil-Tex Mills as an outdoor fabric, they recently achieved a Silver certification and are classified as preferred products by MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry). This means that Bella-Dura meets or exceeds MBDC‘s strict standards for human and environmental health, environmentally preferable materials, a strategy for renewable energy and a comprehensive material re-utilization program.

Nanning Stripe from the Plexus Collection of LSI's Second-Look recycled wallcoverings includes 20 percent recycled content. After its first lifetime, it can be repeatedly recycled through the Second-Look program.

The fabric is the result of collaboration between Wearbest Sil-Tex Mills and the engineers at American Fibers and Yarns Company. The fabric is woven from proprietary fibers that have performance attributes of stain, microbial and fade resistance engineered into the fiber itself.

Bella-Dura is the only fiber on the market, synthetic or natural, that begins as a by-product of post-industrial waste and ends its life as a fully recyclable product. It uses only a small amount of water during its manufacturing and produces no harmful waste.

Bella-Dura creates fabrics for almost any application: indoors, outdoors, commercial or residential. 

PrimaLoft is offering a new PrimaLoft yarn that is a blend of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent PrimaLoft fibers. PrimaLoft fibers, when added to cotton, enhance the feel of the fabric, give it luxury sheen and enable it to dry faster than 100 percent cotton. 

Westpoint Home is using the new PrimaLoft yarns in blankets. According to Alan Kennedy, senior vice-president of merchandising, the new PrimaLoft adds softness, strength and excellent insulating capability.

SilverState fabrics introduces SmartLife: Body & Soul, a green fabric collection made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable polyester extruded from the resin in PET water bottles. The company has also produced environmentally intelligent Terratex fabrics since 1995 from recycled or renewable materials.

Mandy J. Talbert, product development manager of Louisville Bedding Company, reports that the company is featuring new sustainable products across all of its basic bedding categories under its Eco-Smart brand. Products feature cotton, soybean and bamboo with regenerated polyester fillings. Innovative packaging will include recyclable polyethylene and vinyl bags as well as canvas, hemp and cotton with lead-free zippers and dyed trimmings.

Textillery Weavers is adding new pastel tones and pinstripes to its throws crafted from bamboo yarns.

Technology Adds Comfort

Originally developed for NASA, Outlast fibers, fabrics and coatings from Outlast Technologies contain patented Thermocules that absorb, store and release heat, providing increased comfort. Products with Outlast Thermocules absorb excess body heat and release it back when needed. Thus when incorporated into bedding products, the technology allows two sleepers with different temperature preferences to find compatibility in the same environment.

Outlast is already used in mattresses, mattress toppers and pillows. Carpenter Co. has introduced Iso*Cool pillows and mattresses. Dan Schecter, vice-president of sales and marketing of Carpenter, explains that the company uses Outlast as a treatment on the underside of the fabrics that cover pillows and mattress pads. It can be felt through sheets, pillowcases or pajamas. There is a comfort “feel cool” sensation during sleep because it maintains a comfortable temperature environment.

Guy Eckert, executive vice-president of business development at Outlast, reports that high-thread-count luxury bed sheets using Outlast, viscose fibers and cotton developed with Future Textiles will launch in September. Future Textiles is the sales and marketing arm of Design Weave, based in Cranberry, NJ. 
Outlast combined with viscose incorporates a wicking proactive technology that helps people sleep better by absorbing heat away from the body. 

Silver technology is going forward in new ways. A new use is presented in C.F. Stinson’s AgION upholstery collection. This is the first PVC-free vinylesque collection that includes AgION silver ion technology.

AgION is a patented, safe anti-microbial technology that actively targets bacteria on the protected surface of upholstery for the life of the furniture. Environment friendly, AgION is a PVC-free upholstery that is FDA approved and EPA listed as an additive. It is formulated permanently into the upholstery. Contact with moisture activates silver ions to release and provide continuous anti-microbial protection. It is impervious to fluids and easy to clean. 

“There is a growing concern regarding PVC’s (polyvinyl chloride) in our industry,” notes Glen Stinson, vice-president of C.F. Stinson. “AgION offers a safe solution that provides great performance and reduced environmental impact. While these fabrics are used in healthcare and contract, more and more consumers want them in the home and home offices.”

Talbert of Louisville Bedding Company notes that the company offers BioShield Anti-Allergen, the only permanent water-based anti-allergen protection that safely eliminates odor and allergy causing bacteria, mold and mildew, and is guaranteed for the life of the product. It has been extensively tested by the EPA and USDA and is available exclusively from Louisville Bedding Company. 

The company is incorporating BioShield into a full line of basic bedding products. Talbert also states that the company can also add to its products a variety of fabric technologies such as Nanotex, Bioshield, Stain Release and Repelling treatments.

United Feather & Down introduced X-Static Silver fiber technology from Noble Biomaterials a year ago in its SilverFil patented down alternative. Brandon Palmer, co-president of United Feather & Down, informs that the line now includes sheet sets made of SilverWeave with X-Static silver fiber. The products will benefit from anti-odor, anti-bacterial and anti-static qualities achieved through non-chemical means. Down Proof X-Static fabrics will also be used for pillow and down comforter covers.

The newest innovation from Nano-Tex is Neutralizer, which is in apparel and now going into sheets. It eliminates body odor in fabrics. The technology is built into the fabric odor receptors in such a way that the odor molecules can’t reach the nose. The odor molecules are released in the wash.

Mark Brutten, senior vice-president of marketing at Nano-Tex, explains that this technology does not change the characteristics of the fabric and is permanent. Sheets remain fresh longer and can have longer cycles between washings conserving energy.

Crypton introduces InCase Fabric Protection, a certified green treatment that improves fabric performance. According to Lance Keziah, executive vice-president of sales, InCase is a cleanable finish that can be used for duvet covers, sheets, upholstery fabrics and drapery. It is specifically formulated for each fabric type and end use. It increases sheets’ wrinkle resistance and meets flammability standards without halogenated flame-retardants. InCase is the first fabric protection with no detectable PFOAs (Perfluorooctanic Acid), a byproduct found in some stain-resistant products.  

According to Michael Guidry, vice-president of product development for American Textile Co., the company’s new Aller-Ease Deluxe made with DuPont Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT) and used in pillows, pillow protectors and mattress protectors offers unprecedented allergen barrier protection combined with the cool comfort found with cotton fabrics. These products filter out 95 percent of allergens at the one-micron pore size. The three-layer product construction consists of 100 percent cotton twill top layer, the innovative DuPont HMT filtration middle layer and a protective back layer.
Danfield, Inc., a leather finishing company, has introduced Eco-Hides, which are the first chemical-free and eco-friendly high-quality leather products. Using natural colorants, vegetable dyes and waxes, the line is soft and pliable. All materials for tanning are derived from sustainable mimosa trees. 

Owner Vahe Imasdounian observes, “If everyone does his or her small part, we can make a difference in deterring global warming.”

Fiber and fabric technology is leading the way to improving life quality and preserving the planet.


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