Tech­nolo­gies for Sus­tain­able Tex­tile Pro­duc­tion

Ex­plor­ing com­pa­nies that are work­ing to­wards cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for sus­tain­able tex­tile pro­duc­tion

Apparel - - Contents December 2014 -

Ac­cord­ing to a com­ment made by Steven A. Jesseph, the Pres­i­dent and CEO of World­wide Re­spon­si­ble Ac­cred­ited Pro­duc­tion (WRAP) in 2009, “By the year 2050, we will have almost 10 bil­lion peo­ple com­pet­ing for limited clean wa­ter, non-re­new­able and re­new­able re­sources, land to grow food, and en­ergy to sus­tain their busi­nesses, fam­i­lies, and life­styles. Fail­ure to heed the ob­vi­ous warn­ing signs will, in my belief, ring the death knell for busi­nesses that fail to read the tea leaves.” The truth isn’t far from this and we are only in 2014!


Imag­ine a world where all new clothes are made from ex­ist­ing cloth­ing and tex­tiles. Gar­ments un­suit­able for re­use would get bro­ken down by an eco-friendly process. “The com­monly faced is­sue in the tex­tile in­dus­try is of dead stock and un­used fab­rics. The most pro­duc­tive in­no­va­tion would be to de­velop tech­nol­ogy that would help re­cy­cle such fab­ric back into yarn for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment. This would dras­ti­cally re­duce dead stock and re­lieve the man­u­fac­tur­ers of a huge bur­den,” says Ku­nal Anil Tanna, a lead­ing In­dian de­signer. Tech­nol­ogy like this does ex­ist, where you can make gar­ments en­tirely from re­cy­cled cot­ton.

In June this year, a group of col­lab­o­rat­ing Swedish com­pa­nies pre­sented the world’s first gar­ment made en­tirely from re­cy­cled cot­ton; a yel­low dress that looked no dif­fer­ent from the fash­ion range at H&M or Zara.

A Ja­panese company, Tei­jin, has de­vel­oped a sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy that poly­merises polyester, turns it into polyester chips and then, in turn, trans­forms those chips into new fi­bres of equal qual­ity. The re­sult is a new polyester fab­ric that’s just as good as the fab­ric in the dis­carded clothes. Ac­cord­ing to Tei­jin, the process re­duces CO2 emis­sions by 77 per cent as com­pared to polyester made from pe­tro­leum. Some for­ward-think­ing high street re­tail­ers, in­clud­ing H&M and Marks & Spencer, are paving the way to a cir­cu­lar re­source model with in-store col­lec­tion pro­grammes. How­ever, In­dia has yet to adapt to this con­cept. In this pro­gramme, cus­tomers get a dis­count on fu­ture pur­chases for re­turn­ing their worn gar­ments.


In­dia’s tex­tile in­dus­try faces a num­ber of is­sues that need im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion. There are no strin­gent pol­lu­tion norms, there is a lack of con­ven­tional en­ergy sources and an in­creased de­mand for sus­tain­able pro­cesses from global brands. Fur­ther­more, there is de­creas­ing avail­abil­ity of fresh wa­ter, fluc­tu­at­ing raw ma­te­rial prices and in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion costs and in­fla­tion.

Keep­ing the real is­sues in mind, the in­dus­try also must be mind­ful of the new Gov­ern­ment’s stress on their eco­nomic vi­sion of in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion, ex­port and gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment. The Gov­ern­ment also wants to im­prove skill, scale and speed, fo­cus on the ‘Make in In­dia’ brand and the ‘zero de­fect zero ef­fect’ on the en­vi­ron­ment.

Tex­tile pro­ces­sors re­quire so­lu­tions that are sus­tain­able, eco-friendly and cost ef­fec­tive, while at the same time, meet the de­mands of the grow­ing and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. DuPont In­dia, DyeCoo/ Huntsman and tech-en­abled web plat­form Sourceasy are among the few com­pa­nies that are bring­ing about new so­lu­tions that en­able sus­tain­able tex­tile pro­duc­tion. Th­ese com­pa­nies fo­cus on min­i­mum wastage of re­sources, are en­vi­ron­ment con­scious and are tak­ing a step ahead to take tex­tile pro­duc­tion to the next level.


Sourceasy, Inc op­er­ates an ap­parel and tex­tiles man­u­fac­tur­ing plat­form. The company of­fers a DIY web ap­pli­ca­tion that helps mer­chants to source their pri­vate la­bel mer­chan­dise from low cost man­u­fac­tur­ing cen­tres across the world. Its web-based tools en­able cus­tomers to cre­ate, ne­go­ti­ate, up­date, man­age, and track their or­ders. The company was founded in 2013 and is based in New York City.

With a so­lu­tion like this within reach for the gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers, there is min­i­mal wastage of re­sources or time and en­ables sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion for the in­dus­try.

Off­line busi­nesses are func­tioned in­de­pen­dently de­spite tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances. But sev­eral trends ob­served by Sourceasy in the seem­ingly dis­or­gan­ised off­line business will make the web­based DIY plat­form up for faster adop­tion. Here are some ex­cerpts of trends watched by Sourceasy and listed on their blog.


World­wide, ap­parel re­tail­ers have been grap­pling with their abil­ity to ac­cept the new trends and in­no­va­tive prod­uct as­sort­ment strate­gies that fast fash­ion brands like Zara, H&M, and For­ever 21 and on­line brands like Jack­Threads, Ever­lane, and Bono­bos have brought to re­tail sales.

Rather than do two col­lec­tions six months apart, stores like For­ever 21 and Zara choose to of­fer a far larger num­ber of SKUs and up­date their stores twice a week glob­ally.

Zara does an av­er­age of 12,000 -14,000 styles a year. That’s ap­prox­i­mately 250 styles a week. They also man­u­fac­ture an av­er­age of 600 units per style of fast fash­ion styles that are in­spired by high fash­ion trends that they track glob­ally.


Tech­nol­ogy and mo­bile data are chang­ing pur­chas­ing be­hav­iours. Almost ev­ery sin­gle fea­ture phone will prob­a­bly con­vert into a smart­phone at

some point in the next three to five years. With the grow­ing use of soft­ware as a ser­vice, Sourceasy is able to use the best fea­tures of th­ese tech­nolo­gies to cre­ate the core of a strong multi-plat­form work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that is seam­less, el­e­gant and sim­ple.

Pranay Srini­vasan, the founder and CEO of Sourceasy, says, “We cre­ate cus­tom mer­chan­dis­ing pro­grams, with cus­tom fab­rics sourced on our clients be­half, to pro­duce or­ders on de­mand in un­der four weeks with air­freight de­liv­er­ies for im­me­di­ate re­quire­ments/re­orders, help­ing our cus­tomers spend wisely and stay ag­ile, even mid-sea­son”


The tex­tile in­dus­try has to nec­es­sar­ily take re­spon­si­bil­ity and adopt sus­tain­able business prac­tices to truly re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. As the de­mand for greener and higher qual­ity tex­tile prod­ucts con­tin­ues to grow, the pres­sure on the tex­tile in­dus­try to be­come more en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able rises. With tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions such as wa­ter­less dye­ing, the in­dus­try has taken a leap for­ward in re­duc­ing its wa­ter con­sump­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

Huntsman Tex­tile Ef­fect and DyeCoo helped elim­i­nate the use of wa­ter in the tex­tile dye­ing process, join­ing forces in Oc­to­ber 2012. The col­lab­o­ra­tion is now set to cre­ate more sus­tain­able prod­ucts which will ben­e­fit the in­dus­try as a whole.

By us­ing Car­bon Diox­ide as the ap­pli­ca­tion medium, DyeCoo’s in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy com­pletely elim­i­nates the use of wa­ter in the tex­tile dye­ing process. Huntsman Tex­tile Ef­fects is work­ing with DyeCoo to de­velop and de­liver in­no­va­tive dye and chem­i­cal prod­ucts to support the wa­ter­less dye­ing process and to ob­tain the high level of colour per­for­mance that con­sumers de­mand.

DyeCoo is be­lieved to be the first company to suc­cess­fully ap­ply the Su­per­crit­i­cal Car­bon Diox­ide process to com­mer­cial dye­ing of polyester fab­ric, the most com­monly used fab­ric in the world. Re­search is al­ready un­der­way to ap­ply the tech­nol­ogy to other nat­u­ral and syn­thetic fab­rics.

In Fe­bru­ary 2012, Nike an­nounced a strate­gic part­ner­ship with DyeCoo. Eric Sprunk, Nike’s Vice Pres­i­dent of Mer­chan­dis­ing and Prod­uct, ex­plained, “Wa­ter­less dye­ing is a sig­nif­i­cant step in our jour­ney to serve both the ath­lete and the planet, and this part­ner­ship re­in­forces Nike’s longterm strat­egy and deep com­mit­ment to in­no­va­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity. We be­lieve this tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to rev­o­lu­tionise tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing, and we want to col­lab­o­rate with pro­gres­sive dye houses, tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers and con­sumer ap­parel brands to scale this tech­nol­ogy and push it through­out the in­dus­try.”


DuPont In­dia is work­ing with their part­ners to pro­vide in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able pro­cess­ing so­lu­tions to the In­dian tex­tile in­dus­try. Its Primagreen® EcoScour En­zyme So­lu­tions is a step to­wards elim­i­nat­ing the use of harsh chem­i­cals, like caus­tic soda and per­ox­ide, in the tex­tile pre-treat­ment process for medium to dark shades. The en­zyme so­lu­tions re­duce the con­sump­tion of wa­ter, use less en­ergy and al­low sus­tain­able en­zy­matic pro­cess­ing that im­proves the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print of the in­dus­try. The so­lu­tions are highly sus­tain­able, im­prov­ing the qual­ity of the fab­ric. This works at low tem­per­a­tures, re­sult­ing in lesser en­ergy con­sump­tion, lead­ing to a safer and greener en­vi­ron­ment.

With the tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try chang­ing so fast, and con­sumer be­hav­iour be­ing in­flu­enced by tech­nol­ogy and a con­cern for the en­vi­ron­ment, tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in the in­dus­try will shape tex­tile pro­duc­tion such that it is far more sus­tain­able than it is to­day.


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