Harnessing the power of partnership has been a point of leverage and a lifeline for brands and retailers adopting a more sustainable outlook for the fashion industry. For many, the pliant power of TENCEL™ befits those seeking ways to bolster growth responsibly, and better serve the planet.
TENCEL™ collaborations are wide-ranging and can be big and splashy, such as its partnership with RCGD Global, which spotlights and promotes eco-couture at the Academy Awards by dressing actresses from Kaitlyn Dever, Tati Gabrielle to Paloma Garcia Lee in sustainable evening attires. This year, custom-made gowns by HELLESSY, Patrick McDowell and BENEDETTI LIFE featured fabrics made from an array of TENCEL™ branded fibers. The collaboration also involves a global design contest that challenges designers across the globe to create “red-carpet worthy” looks using TENCEL™ fibers to encourage rising creatives to design sustainably.
Samata Pattinson, Chief Executive Officer of RCGD Global, told Fairchild Studio that designers “want to be part of making a difference. While it has been difficult in the past to practically realize change, we see ourselves as a key component of making it happen. We help designers with our experience and knowledge to new approaches and develop relationships between people who, together, can work on a common purpose. TENCEL™ is a great example for that.”
Pattison added that luxury brands have “realized what responsibility they carry,” adding that “Whilst numbers matter, they start to acknowledge what our future needs to look like and even what their audience will demand of them. A name or a reputation will not save anybody from the pressure of our society and our planet. We all need to give our part to this, and we are already seeing beautiful steps being taken in this direction.”
Or consider the brand’s more data driven partnership with Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit that connects key players in the textile value chain to drive industry transformation through preferred fibers, which TENCEL™ first embarked on in 2007.
“We are grateful for the commitment that Lenzing has shown over the last 30 years to building in sustainability to the core of their business,” said Claire Bergkamp, Chief Operating Officer at Textile Exchange. “We know there are incredible things ahead as Lenzing and the industry embraces new ways of working, alternative feedstocks, and embeds innovation and sustainability even further into their core business.”
Another recent collaboration is the TENCEL™ X campaign, which takes a “two is better than one” approach to partnership by way of co-branding campaigns that empower the sustainability journeys of their partners, inclusive of J.Crew, Mara Hoffman, H&M, West Elm, and Guess. The shared goal? Create “the future of fabric” together.
Here, Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Lenzing Group, talks to Fairchild Studio about the importance of partnerships to TENCEL™, the brand’s ongoing evolution, and the state of the sustainability market.
Fairchild Studio: Would you share the creative ways fashion brands have used TENCEL™ to embrace and promote sustainability?
Harold Weghorst: TENCEL™ branded fibers have been used in an assortment of products from apparel, footwear to even bedding and home products, but one of the most creative showcases of our fibers appears on the red carpet. Through our long-running partnership with RCGD Global, we have encouraged designers from all walks of life to create sustainable red carpet-worthy looks out of TENCEL™ fibers. This March saw the winning designs of Shana Sharma, Jasmine Kelly Rutherford and Yuriko Fukuda from contests in 2020 and 2021 finally being celebrated at Lenzing’s Pre-Oscars events after the pandemic pressed pause on all in-person activities.
Fairchild Studio: How has TENCEL™ evolved over its 30-year history? How have brands and consumers evolved?
H.W.: The TENCEL™ brand has evolved because consumers have evolved. Since the brand launched 30 years ago, consumers have become more conscious to the environmental implications behind their clothing. That has been the largest call-to-action for brands to make sustainability an integral part of their business strategy. As a leader of fiber production, TENCEL™ has supported this strategy shift, driving the industry forward through fiber innovations such as the expansion of carbon-zero TENCEL™ branded fibers to REFIBRA™ technology in 2021, which addressed growing demands for circular fashion, as well as through strategic brand partnerships to raise consumer awareness.
While fiber innovations help brands better meet their sustainability targets, TENCEL™’s more consumer-facing campaigns such as #FeelsSoRight and #MakeItFeelRight, leverage partnerships with brands, designers and NGOs, to build consumer awareness and empower them to make trusted purchase decisions. I’m very proud to say that in the 30 years since TENCEL™ began as a “behind the scenes” brand, we’ve truly transformed into a holistic sustainable textile solutions provider for the fashion industry.
Fairchild Studio: In your opinion, what is the state of the sustainability market, and why is TENCEL™ differentiated in the space?
H.W.: Good progress has been made in recent years, but when it comes to sustainability, we should always strive for continual innovation and improvements. As we expand our fiber offerings to address changing consumer demands, what has set the TENCEL™ brand apart is our unwavering commitment to being a fully biodegradable fiber that returns to nature at the end of their life cycle.
Fiber transparency is also a key step to transform the industry. This is where the TENCEL™ brand stands out with its stakeholders across the textile chain. The full traceability of TENCEL™ fibers provide a level of unparalleled promise that textile products made with our fibers are sustainable and ethically produced. It is our commitment to supply chain transparency that has enable brands to meet the highest standards of environmental responsibility.
Fairchild Studio: What can we expect to see next from TENCEL™?
H.W.: It’s a transformative time for the textile industry and also for us at TENCEL™. We have plans to introduce more technological innovations and multi-stakeholder collaborations to drive greater sustainability in the fashion industry.
Through working closely with our partners across the textile value chain, we hope to expand our reach and build an eco-friendlier future across all types of fashion and textile products, from everyday style to red carpet looks and home products.
Tackling climate change is not easy and will require collaborative industry efforts. On this front, we are very fortunate to have likeminded partners supporting us along the way. We are optimistic about creating a more sustainable future in fashion and will continue to build our expertise in creating a more transparency and carbon zero future.