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Creating Fiber’s Next Generation

Exhibitors at the Techtextile show display a range of techinical fibers and fabrics.

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Techtextil North America’s first California symposium and trade show featured 76 exhibitors from 16 countries showcasing the latest in high-tech fibers and fabrics for the fashion world and beyond.

Among the innovations in fibers introduced at the exhibition, held at the Hilton Anaheim March 19 to 21, were Sabiya Fibers’ PurThread with antimicrobial and odor neutralization properties; nanotube fiber, which acts like textile thread and conducts electricity and heat like metal wire; flame resistant fibers such as Nexylon and PyroTex; “Big Red” silk fibers made from spider silk and a proprietary ingredient; antimicrobial sewing thread, and biodegradable water-resistant viscose fibers. New fabrics included nonwoven propylene with insect control, antibacterial and antimold properties; PolarTec’s Alpha Insulation, a three-layer system built around ultralight raschel knit fabric that will not migrate through outer fabrics, allowing them to be more open and breathable; KoolSorb cooling fabrics that absorb and dissipate body sweat, and ResQ that reduces the severity of burns and improves survival rates when worn.

On the trade show floor, companies like Pakistan-based Sapphire Finishing Mills Ltd., which provides fabric for non-denim woven bottoms to companies such as American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch and Levi Strauss & Co., brought everything from stretch fabrics and novelty wax coatings to basic twills and canvases.

“The performance finishes used in sports gear continue to cross over into regular clothing, and we’re still getting a sense of who’s coming to this show,” said Allison Wohl, an associate manager based in Sapphire’s New York office.

Gehring Textiles Inc., based in Garden City, N.Y., counts intimate apparel makers among its clients, along with law enforcement, medical, auto and military apparel makers.

“When we started losing volume to overseas, Gehring started using their machinery to make what the industry was looking for and became one of the most diverse domestic textile companies,” said George J. Kelnhofer, vice president of circular knits. “We make spacers, tricots, raschels.”

Among the companies visiting the booth were outdoor specialists Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Wild Things, and he noted efforts to get the military to use its spacer fabrics for antimicrobial sports bras. Kelnhofer also showed off a new fabric called PBT, a polyester warp knit that feels like a circular knit spandex but is more resistant to breakdown, making it ideal for swimwear.

At Bemis, a Shirley, Mass., company that makes adhesives, specialty films and seam tape, market development manager Tom Cotter showed off heat-activated adhesives used to piece together garments such as a Nike Tiger Woods golf shirt, an Olympic jacket and a Mountain Force anorak.

“The flat seams eliminate thread, which can cause bulk and chafing, and needle holes, which allow cold air to get inside a garment,” he said.

While the materials are more expensive, he said most clients use it for design and performance rather than cost efficiency.

Among the other innovations is a fusible lining that eliminates moisture buildup, used in a Dooney & Bourke bag, and an adhesive used to fuse a laser-cut eyelet stretch fabric to the waistband of briefs by Shapaholic by Regina Miracles.

In the German pavilion showcasing 17 companies, Allison Zeager, a materials sourcing coordinator for footwear maker Deckers Outdoor Corp., said, “I came to this show knowing it wasn’t footwear specific, so I could get a different perspective on textiles being used outside of footwear and open my mind a little more.”

Among her finds were magnetic buckles and closures, energy-conducting webbing and flame-retardant materials.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever make shoes used for walking around volcanoes, but you never know,” she said.

At German fabric house Riedel, which counts Hugo Boss, Max Mara and Lacoste among its fashion clients, Frank Holenfelder, charged with development and sales of technical textiles, showed pieces such as diving suits from its seamless/sportswear division, as well as coated and laminated fabrics from its technical division.

“One of our goals in coming to this show was to get in touch with companies in the States for medical clients,” Holenfelder said.

Martin Legner, regional sales manager for technical textile applications at Stoll, showed some ready-to-use solutions such as stretch covers made to fit over metal office-chair frames, bicycle seats and jointed tubular compression sleeves.

“We’re also known for fashion, but we have been supporting the furniture, medical and compression industries for the last 25 years with customized applications and proprietary textiles,” he said.

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