During the recent Milano Unica textile trade show, the event was buzzing with the need for developing more innovation and textile technology to increase the number of sustainable products in the global market. But to accomplish this, industry leaders know it takes cooperation and collaboration — and companies are responding.
Last week, two leading innovators, the Lycra Co. and HeiQ, announced a partnership aimed at bringing “more innovative, quality-enhancing and sustainable textile technologies to consumers around the world,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The collaboration follows separate news from HeiQ that it acquired Hong Kong-based Life to further penetrate the bio-based antimicrobial market.
With the Lycra partnership, the companies said the collaboration began in 2019 during exploratory discussions. Those talks resulted in realizing both companies could leverage “their shared philosophies and strengths in textile science, commercial networks and global marketing to drive innovation platforms into broad textile markets.” Their vision is to deliver consumer-branded innovations “in the stretch, thermoregulation, freshness and sustainability market spaces.”
“The initial and first of many innovation platforms will roll out through the summer, bringing a new dimension of comfort and confidence to the consumer by delivering HeiQ freshness and antiviral benefits with the quality and comfort of stretch fabrics certified to perform with a new Lycra FreshFX technology brand standard,” the companies said in a statement. “Preparation for this innovation is already underway, with an initial focus on local value chains for the Chinese consumer, and the introduction is scheduled for the Intertextile show in Shanghai at the end of August.”
Steve Stewart, chief brand and innovation officer at the Lycra Co., said the collaboration with HeiQ was the “culmination of conversations that began two years ago” and that by “combining the strength of both companies, we will continue to drive meaningful innovation within the textile industry, delivering new solutions at a quicker pace to a broader audience.”
In a joint statement, the companies said each will bring “trusted expertise across the global textile value-chain of yarn processors, fabric mills, garment producers, brands and retailers and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable, consumer-driven innovations, delivered through partnerships that take textile performance to unprecedented levels.”
And each will leverage “complementary strengths” in the process. For example, while the Lycra Co. is recognized by consumers for its Lycra-branded fibers, “HeiQ is a renowned innovator in finished-based innovations addressing freshness, sustainability, smart temperature management, antiviral, dryness and many other market spaces.”
Carlo Centonze, cofounder and chief executive officer of the HeiQ Group, said the goal at his company is “to enable brands and mills in the textile industry to bring more comfort, performance and sustainability to textile products, while raising brand awareness with key consumers who will benefit the most from these innovations. This collaboration with The Lycra Co. not only brings the best minds together, but also ensures our breakthrough innovations will be available for and benefit as many consumers as possible.”
Julien Born, CEO of the Lycra Co., said the collaboration with HeiQ “is based on a strong foundation of common values and philosophies shared by our two companies. We look forward to exploring the natural synergies between us and uncovering new solutions for the apparel industry.” Born also noted that the focus of the collaborations “will be to address relevant consumer needs for quality, durability and sustainable garments” and added that sample fabrics and garments “will be available in late summer for commercial selection.”
Regarding the acquisition of Life by HeiQ, the company said the acquisition aligns with its “strategy to increase its presence in the bio-based antimicrobial and health care surface hygiene market, and to further diversify and innovate its product range and capabilities with a view to becoming a global leader in materials innovation.”
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Life develops and distributes a range of bio-based antimicrobial additives and treatments that are “used by manufacturers of plastics, coatings, textiles, ceramics and paper, that inhibit or manage bacteria, fungi, algae and other micro-organisms that come in contact with treated materials,” the company said also noting that Life “has the broadest technology platform in the industry, using inorganic, organic and bio-based botanical active substances.”
Brands that use Life’s material innovation include DuPont, American Standard, Igloo Products, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Columbia Sportswear, among others.