Invista Inc. hopes to shake up the textile and intimate-apparel industries with the retail launch of the new Lycra fiber W Technology in branded lingerie for spring 2013.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The new technology — which was introduced to the trade in Shanghai in fall 2011 — has enhancements that Invista claims will upgrade all categories of intimates and sleepwear, as well as elastics and laces. The new level of performance in elastane fibers is designed to offer improved whiteness retention, uniformity, better color clarity and better molding for fabrics and garments.

Watch a Video on the New Technology Here >>

Bob Kirkwood, executive vice president of Invista’s technical and marketing unit, said the new technology will provide customers with a “better starting point in garment-making.”

“Over the years, the Lycra fiber brand has delivered multiple breakthroughs in the apparel industry.…We are proud to be providing this new technology to our customers as we continue to push the needle forward in the apparel industry,” said Kirkwood.

Steve Stewart, Invista Apparel’s global director of intimate apparel and swimwear, described the new technology as providing “styling flexibility and technical and fashion options that weren’t possible before.”

“This technology package incorporates new spinning technology and proprietary dye-pickup technology that enables the fiber to become the invisible secret that delivers truly visible improvements for today’s intimate apparel,” explained Stewart.

Mills in Asia and Europe have been conducting trials and tests to integrate the new technology into production of circular and warp knits with synthetic fibers for the past nine months, said Roseann Beutell, senior marketing manager for intimate apparel at Invista. She noted that mills in the U.S. have not been part of the integration, because of “better [environmental] conditions.

“It’s a change that is definitely happening….Intimate apparel garments will be filtered into retail channels as manufacturers make conversions. If a manufacturer uses Lycra — there’s no choice. They will be transitioned into this,” said Beutell. She added that pricing will not change, but figures were not available.

“Prices will remain the same. We are giving customers a better, improved product,” she noted.

Beutell called the new technology is revolutionary.

“We’ve been able to take the polymers and make some important upgrades to it. White [fabrics] stay whiter longer and have the ability to withstand a variety of factors that affect whiteness, such as heat from molding, UV exposure, and gas and fumes…It slows down the time a fabric turns yellow, or in some cases,  turns brown, and it protects the whiteness factor,” explained Beutell. “The other exciting development is it can absorb color better and make colors richer, deeper, and it creates a better uniformity of color. It also works beautifully with black because of the ability of Lycra to absorb dyes, and it gets rid of grin-through, the green and gold striping that’s obvious when a black fabric is stretched.”

She further noted that the innovation “will not change the stretch and recovery of fabrics and will not affect the fit.”

“It requires some dye rework….You don’t want to come at people at the last minute. That’s why we want them to know this is an upgrade. It would have been a huge expense if we had changed the polymer,” noted Beutell.

The Lycra fiber W Technology will eventually be rolled out to different product categories.

Beutell said the spring launch will celebrate the new technology’s commercial debut at a wide range of stores and specialty chains in the U.S. and Europe, including Lane Bryant and Victoria’s Secret. Among the major intimate apparel brands said to be participating are Maidenform, Wacoal at Wacoal America, and Warner’s at The Warnaco Group.

The company has produced a marketing video that outlines the new technology’s benefits and features this tag line: “It’s What’s Under the Surface That Matters.”

While Lycra fiber W Technology was also unveiled at the Mode City trade fair in Paris earlier this month, Invista officials also decided to beef up exposure in North America with a party in New York. The July 31 event at The Setai Fifth Avenue is expected to draw around 150 executives from mills and intimate-apparel companies as well as retailers.

“The message needed to get out.…Smaller teams, sometimes one or two [retailers and manufacturers], are traveling to Europe and Asia,” said Beutell.

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