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How Lycra and Advance Denim Collaboration Drives ‘First-to-Market’ Innovation

For a highly specialized fiber firm like The Lycra Company, collaboration truly is the key to business, as it works with mills and brands to commercialize its innovations and put them into fabrics and garments.

The collaboration was also the topic of a talk between Rita Ratskoff, senior strategic account manager for North America at Lycra Co., and Mark Ix, director of North American marketing for Advance Denim.

Advance Denim and Lycra brand have been innovation partners for over a decade,” Ix said. “A lot of the major innovations at our mill come from close work with our major technicians.”

He said the two companies work together to create concepts based on fiber technology from Lycra and the knowledge of construction and denim from the Advance technical manufacturing specialists.

Ratskoff said Advance Denim is one of Lycra’s development partners that gets first access to new innovations.

“Getting that first access and basically developing and beta testing that first brand-new concept together makes us be a leader in the market and we’re first to market with great technologies that our customers really appreciate,” Ix said.

Ratskoff cited for example that Advance Denim was first to market with Lycra’s dualFX technology, which features “excellent stretch and recovery and best-in-class anti-slippage performance.”

“This technology adds a level of durability to jeans to have lasting fit and we know consumers are going to be looking for even more durability as they spend their money wiser coming out of COVID,” she said.

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Ix said dualFX continues to be the “go-to technology in the market, with a mixture of T400 and Lycra all covered by the comfort of cotton” offering a “stretch and recovery that is really unparalleled.”

This has allowed Advance Denim to create a line called 100 Percent Fit Denim, offering performance that is “unattainable” without dualFX technology, he said.

In addition, Advance Denim has adopted Lycra’s Free Fit technology in its Free Tech line that is about soft stretch in a wider size array. Ix said Free Tech gives customers a comfort stretch that is less binding, but still has recovery and doesn’t bag out. Free tech has recently been expanded to knit denim, Ix noted, for even greater comfort and choice for consumers.

In the area of sustainability, Advance Denim is also using Lycra’s EcoMade fibers featuring pre- and post-consumer recycled content that offer the same high-quality performance as their original offerings.

“People want sustainability,” Ix said. “They want to know that you’re doing something to elevate your product and make it more transparently sustainable,” and Lycra EcoMade fiber and EcoMade versions of T400 add that component.

He said Advance Denim has set a goal to have 90 percent of the fibers used in its mill be “green fibers.”

Ratskoff said the two companies have “an exciting new fiber launch coming later this year that will address key consumer and trade need.”

In a separate session at Kingpins24, Julien Born, president of apparel at Lycra, spoke more broadly about how the company has been able to keep its manufacturing facilities open during the pandemic, while also keeping innovation projects moving forward through collaborative efforts with its mill and brand partners.

Born said sustainability will continue to be important regardless of the health crisis and “consumers will ask more of their favorite brands in the future, as far as how they manage the supply chain, ethical manufacturing and labor.”

“We feel that we are very well positioned for that,” Born said. ‘We have a very holistic approach to sustainability. We work on manufacturing excellence, product innovation and social responsibility.”