Perspectives on Performance

“Perspectives on Performance” panelists, left to right: Hans Kohn, Schoeller; David Parkes, Concept III; Mats Georgson, Polygiene; Charles Ross, professor; and moderator Emily Walzer, Textile Insight.

Industry collaboration, clarity around sustainability, dedication to textile education, and advancing a leadership position in the development of eco performance technologies were topics front and center during a panel discussion on Day One of the Functional Fabric Fair NY Show. Textile experts participating in the “Perspectives on Performance” panel included: Mats Georgson, CMO at Polygiene; Charles Ross, UK-based professor, textile consultant and lecturer; David Parkes, founder, Concept III Textiles; and  Hans Kohn, COO, Schoeller Technologies AG.

With a collective industry experience of over 120 years, the execs ably informed the audience about the evolution of performance textiles, citing game-changing product developments such as: polarfleece, Gore-Tex, engineered synthetics, synthetic insulations, like Thinsulate and PrimaLoft, and the softshell category. Together with ongoing enhancements in functionality, these developments have influenced the trajectory of market.

Quickly, however, conversation turned to immediate matters impacting the industry. Plastics in the ocean and the fast-fashion trend creating over consumption and rapid disposal of garments were highlighted. When combined with today’s savvy consumer, both in terms of functional fabrics knowledge and desire for a sustainable lifestyle, the group concluded that we are now ready to get to the next level of responsibility.

Regarding how to go forward to ensure a favorable future, this is what execs had to say:

Georgson: “We are producing too much and consuming too fast. We live in a time when people throw away clothes. We may look back on this as a ‘weird’ phase.” He stressed the need to re-think longevity of garments and creating circularity in the marketplace.

Ross: “Right now, plastics in the ocean needs to be addressed. There is a trend emerging of turning back to nature for inspiration and innovation in textile development. Going forward it is critical that we are transparent.”

Kohn: “Schoeller was a founding member of bluesign — that was 19 years ago and it has been a journey. Now after all this time, rather than offering one clear view of sustainability coming from the performance textile community, we are creating confusion. The industry needs to come together to provide a unified vision that is clear to consumers.”

Parkes: “The performance textile industry has accomplished a lot over the decades. It was built on high-standards of product innovation, marketing and integrity. Now we need to invest in educational resources, colleges and universities, and consider how we can give back.”