Making an impact in fashion’s burgeoning bioeconomy means approaching innovation from all angles – and for DuPont Biomaterials, that’s inclusive of pioneering partially plant-based materials and prioritizing origin.

Here, Alexa Raab, global brand and communications manager for DuPont Biomaterials’ brand Sorona®, talks to WWD about navigating sustainability in the material world and its newly launched Common Thread Fabric Certification Program, which allows brands and designers to request a certificate from mills that verifies fabrics have the proper inclusion of Sorona® fibers.

WWD: What initiated the Common Thread Fabric Certification Program? Why now?

Alexa Raab: The reasoning behind the launch of our new brand architecture and hangtag program was two-fold. We wanted to bring simplicity of choice and fabric confidence to designers and apparel brands.

Sorona® has always believed in trust, traceability and transparency throughout the entire supply chain and this was a natural next step in this journey. Not to mention, this process ensures fabrics made with Sorona® have the performance our customers deserve and provides a level of accountability our industry needs.

Designers and brands put a lot of thought and consideration into material selection. Accountability at all levels of the supply chain is important so these creators and their end consumers have the look and feel they’re expecting in a garment.

Fabrics made with Sorona® have properties that are not available with other fiber selections. This includes the colorfast makeup of Sorona®, its long-lasting durability, resistance to pilling, comfort stretch, moisture wicking properties, and recyclability of the fibers at the end of life of a garment. It’s important to extend this certification program to our mill partners so their clients at the brand level have a built-in system for trust and quality control.

WWD: How does Common Thread address issues related to transparency and traceability?

A.R.: In particular, the new fabric collections offered by mills are all tested and certified through the DuPont™ Sorona® Common Thread Fabric Certification Program to assure the fabrics have the unique molecular footprint of partially plant-based Sorona® polymer as well as meet key fabric performance attributes. We are committed to ensuring that mills, designers and brands have clarity on our offering and that they can trust the source of the materials when they’re choosing fabrics using Sorona®.

WWD: Which branded DuPont Sorona fabrics reside under Common Thread, and why?

A.R.: New fabrics certified through the Common Thread Fabric Certification Program will provide the performance characteristics for which designers and apparel brands are searching and Sorona® is known for.

Sorona® is an ideal option for casual wear and athletic wear that requires comfort stretch and moderate stretch. Its crimp memory gives it unique stretch properties that when combined with an open fabric construction, allows the stretch fabric to have a softer handfeel. Sorona® is also an excellent option for moisture wicking fabrics with stretch because of the fiber’s unique construction, which creates capillaries that draw moisture away from the body.

The certified fabrics fall into one of five new sub-brands, including:

  • Sorona® Agile fabrics for spandex replacement, which help to provide better resistance to heat, UV rays and chlorine. We feel this is an ideal fabric alternative in any garment where spandex-free stretch is needed.
  • Sorona® Revive provides long-lasting performance with shape retention and stretch recovery – thereby avoiding undesired fabric sagging and bagging. When used in athletic wear and casual wear, Sorona® Revive fabrics are soft with dimensional stability.
  •  Sorona® Profile performance apparel fabric, which retains its shape and provides a consistently smooth look wear-after-wear. Used as a replacement for 100 percent nylon-based fabrics, Sorona® Profile has improved crease recovery while maintaining a rich handfeel that redefines softness. This fabric option helps garments return to form time and time again.
  • Sorona® Luxe natural fabrics afford natural fiber blends enhanced performance, softness and recovery. From linen and wool to silk and cotton, natural fabrics now have a smooth handfeel with comfort stretch, dimensional stability and reduced pilling.
  • Lightweight Sorona® Aura insulation provides unparalleled softness that redefines how warmth should feel with outstanding fill power and a higher level of thermal insulation. From jackets and pants to gloves and hats, the only thing Sorona® Aura insulation fill retains more than its shape is warmth.

WWD: Are there any significant trends or changes in the textile industry that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic? How will these trends impact the industry moving forward?

A.R.: I think one thing that has emerged from this pandemic is the demand for making more thoughtful decisions and slowing down. The pandemic is allowing the earth to heal itself and I hope that the impact and effects continue. At Sorona®, we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and to advancing the industry’s commitment to a more circular economy. We see more stakeholders adopting this idea now, as well. That includes designers, brands, and end consumers who are more closely scrutinizing their spending as our world continues to shape shift.

According to the EPA, Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — each year. This accounts for about 9 percent of total non-recycled waste! Studies show that extending the life of clothing by 9 months would reduce carbon waste and water footprints by 20-30 percent. Choosing fabrics made with Sorona® means your clothes will last longer and look newer throughout the life of the garment. Sorona’s long-lasting stretch reduces sagging and bagging and its unique construction means fabrics maintain their soft handfeel without pilling or fading over time.

We hope the changing environment and the data we have access to about the industry’s impact on the world around us will lead to designs that are more enduring with fabrics that are made to last. And, we hope the idea of circular economy is embraced. Now is the time for designers and brands to make these future oriented decisions in fabric selection and in all other areas of the industry. If they make the choice now to select fabrics made with Sorona®, they’ll be choosing a path toward achieving a more circular economy. Sorona®  can be recycled in the normal polyester recycling stream at the garment’s end of life. That’s not possible for stretch fabrics made with spandex.

WWD: What’s next for DuPont Sorona?

A.R.: DuPont Biomaterials is poised to continue our heritage of leadership in sustainable materials innovation as we bring world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace, focused on partnerships with forward-thinkers to promote the new bioeconomy. We’re dedicated to finding ways to enhance the quality of life through high-performance, competitively priced materials while progressively reducing the environmental impacts of industry.

Our goal is to be an important part of the circular economy, one in which products are made to last, where the system is powered by renewable energy, where the process itself is responsible and restorative. We think Sorona® is an excellent example of this.

My hope is that we will continue to expand our faux fur offerings, which were introduced at the end of 2019 in a collaboration with Stella McCartney, into new applications and also to increase offerings of our functional fabrics, including those that are cooler or warmer to the touch.

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