The Hosiery Association and its membership work to green their businesses.
From fibers and yarns to sheers and socks, the Hosiery Association, based in Charlotte, N.C., is focusing on helping its legwear company membership understand the various aspects and sustainability implications of implementing eco-friendly programs and helping consumers wade through the clutter of various green labels to make environmentally friendly buying decisions.
THA’s major goal this year is to position itself as “the go-to entity for legwear information, thus offering consumers information that should enable them to make an educated purchasing decision,” said Sally Kay, THA president and chief executive officer. Reflecting this, the association is working on changes to its Web site (hosieryassociation.com), adding a new section titled “Green Feats: Pairing Innovation With the Environment.” “Its purpose is to provide information for the legwear industry, the retailer and the consumer,” said Kay. “From an industry perspective, the more knowledgeable it is about sustainable manufacturing processes, the more effective it can become in making sound business decisions to help both consumers and the environment.”
Underscoring THA members’ commitment to environmental responsibility, a number of companies are adding eco-friendly aspects to their business. “This includes many parts of the supply chain including natural fibers and a high percentage of cotton yarns; packaging innovation using less material and biodegradable materials, and overall energy conservation, including ongoing reduction in water consumption,” said Bill Nichol, chairman of both THA and Gildan USA. “Our membership will lead the global hosiery industry in offering green opportunities to our customers.”
For example, Unifi Inc., the Greensboro, N.C.-based diversified producer and processor of multifilament polyester and nylon textured yarns and related raw materials, has had its Repreve family of recycled polyester yarns independently certified for 100 percent recycled content by Scientific Certification Systems, a leading third-party auditor, certifier and standards developer. For every pound of Repreve yarn used, “Some 61,000 BTUs are conserved,” according to Bett Anderson, marketing manager of SCS.
Although Repreve is made of 100 percent recycled reused waste, “It provides the same first quality standards and same performance of virgin polyester, so can be used alone or with other fibers,” said Anderson, who added that the fiber works well combined in spandex or cotton blends.
Repreve yarns are used in apparel and hosiery, as well as home furnishings and automotive uses, including Kushyfeet athletic socks and Colortex, Patagonia and Perry Ellis apparel.
Israel-based Nilit, a 34-year-old manufacturer of nylon 6.6 polyamide fibers for legwear, apparel, swimwear and activewear, has been able to implement several sustainable procedures thanks to its completely vertical production process, from polymerization and extrusion to spinning and packing, according to Molly Kremidas, U.S.marketing director for the company.
While not visible to the consumer, one of Nilit’s most consistent ongoing environmental efforts has long focused on encouraging its customers to ship back pallets and even its metal and cardboard bobbins for in-plant recycling. “We feel such basic efforts at recycling and reusing this way are part of being good stewards of the environment as a global company,” Kremidas said. “We are truly committed in order to achieve optimum sustainability; the environment must be a consideration throughout all aspects of our business.”
Because they are used in close-to-the-body garments, Nilit yarns are certified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 to be free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances. “Textile safety has always been important to our European apparel customers and the same demand has been growing rapidly in the U.S. market for our customers, as well as for consumers,” she said.
Also on the forefront of incorporating sustainable fibers into hosiery products currently on the market is Kayser-Roth Corp., through its No Nonsense and Hue labels, as well as its in-plant manufacturing recycle/reuse programs. Hue bamboo fiber socks have been on the market for a year and a half in department and specialty stores, according to public relations director Alison Hessert, and are available in both anklet and ribbed knee-high styles. In the No Nonsense line, the bamboo fibers offer a naturally breathable factor.
Kayser-Roth also makes use of hemp, wool, cotton, corn-based and recycled nylon polyester fibers, with strong emphasis on recycling and reusing materials in packaging, as well.