Earthy Ideas: Forward-Thinking Fabrications

Keep CiCLO on your radar. This new biodegradable technology is gaining traction in active/outdoor. Two interesting developments came to our attention at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show: Polartec is using CiCLO in fleece constructions; SwissTex features CiCLO tech in lightweight knit constructions for active/lifestyle performance tops. Polartec’s product is a joint effort with Unifi and Intrinsic Advanced Materials. The collab combines Intrinsic’s CiCLO technology with Unifi’s innovative yarn products to promote biodegradation of polyester and nylon, as well as applications in polyurethane, in seawater and landfill conditions.

Also worth watching is an industry movement toward “spandex-free” construction in active lifestyle. We’re not talking compression and other applications where elastane is an essential performance ingredient. However, because spandex is not recyclable or biodegradable suppliers say they are on the lookout for new ways to achieve stretch. Sorona has started exploring drawn textured yarn — typically used in polyester — as means for spandex replacement with mills developing DTY Sorona yarns for use in knits bringing nice stretch as well as a soft hand feel.

Further afield in eco developments, is Toray’s S-wash cotton paper fabric. A compostable cellulosic, this innovative product offers qualities of both hemp and merino, but WASHI is unique in being an ideal fabrication for humid conditions. Made from the Abaca plant – a sustainable, renewable resource grown at designated farms in the Philippines and Ecuador – and having a hollow fiber, S-wash can be knit or woven. Toray execs describe S-wash succinctly as a “simple, natural solution.” A Montbell shirt made with 100 percent WASHI fabric accessorized with wood buttons is completely compostable, for example. Toray has available S-Wash/cotton blends woven for shirting; Footwear and denim applications are on the horizon. S-Wash also has a terrific backstory: It is derived from Japanese tradition of papermaker: Buddhist monks wrote on WASHI parchment 1000 years ago.