Stretch in denim may be losing market share to sturdier vintage-inspired looks for a lot of reasons, but for the sustainability-minded customers out there, XLance puts stretch back in the jeans picture.
The five-year-old polyolefin-based stretch yarn is targeting the denim market after seeing successes in active sportswear, workwear, swimwear and some shirting brands. The key pitch, according to Melissa D’Innella, sales manager for XLance (pronounced excellence), is that the stretch is guaranteed to be long lasting.
“The product that has stretch currently is stressed by everyday use and isn’t very durable,” D’Innella said. “This has the performance and extreme durability.”
Durability allows the garment to have a longer life, keeping it out of landfills for much longer than conventional denim. Additionally, XLance is produced by melt spinning in what it describes as an eco-friendly process free of hazardous solvents. This allows mills to get creative with denim, which is what makes fabrics with XLance highly customizable.
“If they can’t be aggressive with the finishing their options are limited,” D’Innelli said. “XLance allows them to do what they want.”
XLance can be woven into cotton, linen and Tencel, among other yarns. It has a low heat setting temperature so mills can finish the fabric with a substantial energy savings.
“Energy savings can be up to 44 percent, depending on the fiber they are combining it with,” D’Innella said. “Ours is heat set at 248 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the usual 365–375 degrees Fahrenheit required for spandex.”
This means a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, the company reports. All electricity used to spin the yarn is sourced from renewable energy.
Fabrics made of XLance are chlorine proof (not just resistant), laser ready and ozone wash ready. The yarn is resistant to the harsh washing processes of industrial laundries and boasts a very high recovery power after 50 industrial laundry cycles and high temperature tunnel drying.
The company also claims XLance isn’t prone to microfiber shedding, not even after exposure to harsh substances, weathering or aging, and shows low microplastics release. It has also been tested for fraying and is mechanically recyclable.
XLance, based in Varallo Pombia, Italy, is used in products by Nike, Adidas, Patagonia and Decathlon. It was developed by Dow Chemical.
As it expands into denim, it is already working with mills Advance Denim and PureDenim and it has begun to approach brands like Rag & Bone, Levi’s, Alexander Wang and American Eagle. The product had a slow start five years ago but according to D’Innella it was because it wasn’t marketed aggressively. She now sees a clear market for it.
“There is a lot of curiosity and a lot of interest,” she said. “Everyone is looking for something new in terms of stretch and there is not a lot on the market.”
“The end consumer is not going to accept no stretch,” she added.