VF Corp. is hoping a strategic alliance with a nanofiber specialist will help it realize innovations in its performance apparel and footwear assortments.
Greensboro, N.C.-based VF will collaborate with FibeRio Technology Corp., a nanofiber technology firm based in McAllen, Tex., to develop and commercialize performance fabrics at its innovation centers for apparel and footwear in Alameda, Calif., and Stratham, N.H., respectively. VF’s The North Face brand is based in Alameda and Timberland has its office in Stratham.
The association, the parties said, will focus on FibeRio’s Forcespinning technology platform and its ability to produce nanofiber materials in higher volumes using a high-speed centrifuge-based process rather than one employing either electrostatic charges or heated air jets.
“VF’s global innovation center strategy is centered on the pursuit of disruptive design and materials that will meaningfully redefine the future of apparel and footwear for our customers,” said Dan Cherian, vice president of VF’s global innovation centers and supervisor of the California and New Hampshire hubs. “Our partnership with FibeRio is a great step toward the codevelopment of proprietary, high-performance nanofiber materials that will help push the boundaries of performance and explore the creation of new apparel and footwear market categories.”
FibeRio’s work has been focused on areas including filtration and medical devices as well as nonwovens for industrial markets. Ellery Buchanan, chief executive officer of the firm, told WWD that Forcespinning has “great potential” for apparel and footwear and should be easily adaptable to the production requirements of a company like VF because of its faster output.
“It is a versatile technology that enables processing of a wide range of polymers,” he said, adding “the lightweight, breathable, comfortable nature of the materials and the special characteristics they can provide for competitive advantage” suit the needs of apparel and footwear makers.
The company was named to the Global Cleatnech 100 in 2013 in recognition of its environmentally friendly technology.
Citing their joint efforts in the development of proprietary products, the companies declined to identify specific products on which they are working or whether the collaboration involved investments by either firm.
VF disclosed plans for three innovation hubs in August 2013. Although not involved in the association with FibeRio, VF also operates an innovation center for denim and jeanswear in Greensboro.