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Toray Adds Recycled Version of Primeflex Stretch Fabric to Lineup

Toray Industries is giving its signature stretch fabric an eco-friendlier spin.

The Tokyo-based firm announced on Friday the launch of a new iteration of Primeflex composed of 50 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate—better known as PET—and 18 percent bio-based fibers derived from plants.

The material, Toray says, meets the sportswear consumer’s “demand for sustainability without compromising stretch.”

Now entering its 20th year, Primeflex gets its bouncy hand from the bi-component structure of the yarn, which pits the disparate properties of its component materials against one another to generate its “strong stretch, kickback and lightweight” characteristics, according to the manufacturer.

The recycled version will be available in Spring/Summer 2021, during which Toray will make available a raft of woven and knitted textiles for the sportswear and casual apparel markets.

The company pegs initial-year sales of the fabric at 500,000 meters, and aims to sell 3 million meters by fiscal year 2022.

Toray has tackled the use of virgin materials in fashion fibers before. In September, it linked arms with Japanese retailer Uniqlo to create a line of apparel derived from Dry EX, a blend of recycled down and reclaimed PET from plastic bottles.

The collaboration goes beyond clothing, too. As part of the agreement, Uniqlo will send castoff Ultralight Down materials to Toray’s freshly minted down-separation system to rescue the material for a second life.

“We are aiming to create new value through clothing and contribute to the sustainability of society,” Tadashi Yanai, chairman and president of Uniqlo parent company Fast Retailing, said at the time. “Under this partnership, we will start a new material recycling and recycling initiative, through which we will deliver simple, highly functional, high-quality and sustainable clothing to customers around the world.”

Toray isn’t the only company to delve into recycled stretch fibers, either. Last September, Lycra debuted its first branded elastane made with pre-consumer recycled materials. The fiber giant says it also plans to transition most of its Coolmax and Thermolite fiber products to post-consumer recycled versions—which, like the new elastane, are part of the EcoMade umbrella of products—by the end of 2021.

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In March 2019, Unifi rolled out TruFlexx, an engineered stretch fiber made with Repreve-branded recycled polyester. Roica by Asahi Kasei is another favorite with members of the responsible-denim sector, including Italian mill Candiani, which recently employed its recycled elastic polyurethane filament to make stretch ReLast fabric.