Lenzing VP Florian Heubrandner on new fabric combining Tencel and Amni Soul Eco

Austrian fiber company Lenzing Group, best known for its brands Tencel, Veocel and EcoVero, joined forces with Belgian chemical group Solvay to create a new sustainable fabric combining Tencel-branded lyocell fibers and Solvay’s Amni Soul Eco, the first polyamide 6.6 yarn designed to decompose within 5 years (other fibers can take decades to decompose). The result, the two companies claim, is a sustainable fabric that offers greater breathability and abrasion resistance for the activewear market.

FashionUnited spoke with Lenzing’s Vice President of Global Business Management, Florian Heubrandner, to learn more about the new product. His work includes overseeing Lenzing’s global textile business and efforts in scaling-up new textile innovations, as well as creating long-term strategic partnerships like the one recently formed with Solvay.

How did Lenzing and Solvay get together? How did the idea to combine Tencel and Amni Soul Eco come about?

The activewear segment is a growing part at Lenzing. As consumers are more health conscious these days, I do foresee a substantial amount of growth potential in the activewear segment, so I feel extremely excited about what is going to come. In March 2018, our activewear team participated in the Shanghai Intertextile trade show, where they met the Solvay team and spun off the collaboration idea.

Tell us more about the new fabric. How is it made and when will it be available?

The knitting, dyeing and finishing processes are of no difference to any other regular fabric. The backbone of the idea here is the material composition of the fabric. The back of the new fabric is made of Tencel active lyocell fibers, which are derived from renewable, responsibly managed wood sources, while the front is enhanced by Solvay’s Amni Soul ECO.

We haven’t started mass producing the new fabric yet, but we’ve already received several enquiries from brands that are interested in the idea and will look into the possibility for mass production in the future.

Lenzing and Solvay claimed in a press release that the new fabric improves comfort, breathability and thermal regulation. How so?

Amni Soul Eco is a type of sustainable nylon. The synthetic fibers absorb low amounts of moisture and dry fast, rendering it highly breathable from the surface. But Tnecel fibers are also structured to regulate the absorption and release of moisture, which increases breathability even more. As for comfort, if you look at lyocell fibers in a microscope, you will see that they exhibit a smooth surface area, so the fabric is very soft to the touch.

Can we expect Lenzing to partner up with more companies in the future?

Lenzing has been playing an active role in driving circular economy with industry partners. For instance, we are a participant of the Make Fashion Circular Initiative, which was established at Copenhagen Fashion Summit last May. Together with our partners, we hope to ensure that clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, complemented with the use of new technologies and business models. In the future, Lenzing will work even closer with our partners by sharing our sustainability insights and expertise. Ultimately, we aim to facilitate the growth of supply chain transparency practices through supporting brand product development.

Photo: courtesy of Lenzing

 

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