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Texworld USA: Functional Knits a Focal Point at Lenzing Innovation Pavilion

For performance-driven fabrics, the only way is up, as today’s consumers expect and demand comfort in everything they wear. That’s good news for Austrian fiber manufacturer Lenzing, which highlighted functional knits featuring a Tencel-polyester blend, at this week’s Texworld USA in New York.

“These textiles are blended with 20 percent Tencel which offers higher wicking performance and a faster drying rate,” explained Seong Kwon, marketing manager for Lenzing Korea, adding that the Lyocell fiber helps keep the wearer cool and comfy, no matter the activity.

Consumers’ craving function was a statement echoed across the board as several exhibitors featured in Lenzing’s Innovation Pavilion at the trade show pointed out the increasing popularity of fabrics incorporating performance properties.

Jim Andriola, sales manager for Los Angeles-based knitter Texollini, said, “People are keenly interested in textiles that have performance attributes, regardless of market. Whether it’s swim, intimates or active, they’re still seeking performance attributes because the consumer is seeking more from their clothes.”

To that end, the latest collection from Texollini includes such standouts as fine gauge scuba and neoprene, and fabrics featuring UV protection. “There’s always an outlier but in general people are looking for Made in America textiles and that’s been outstanding for the past three to four years and growing,” Andriola added.

Pat Tabassi, marketing manager for Design Knit Inc., a nearly 30-year-old knit-to-order mill located in downtown LA, noted that the July edition of Texworld USA featured the largest number of U.S. vendors she’d seen at the show to date. “That’s a sign of where things are going,” she said, adding, “I feel like people are asking more and more questions as to how to bring business back to the U.S. and we’re very passionate about that. We’re very passionate about keeping our work force employed and keeping our industry strong.”

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For activewear clients, the company tends to push its Tencel and Modal blends. “The hand is second to none. It’s so buttery, so luscious, and we love it because it’s breathable and antimicrobial,” Tabassi stated.

Kim Williams, director of marketing for Mount Pleasant, North Carolina-based Tuscarora Yarns Inc., revealed that business has been booming of late, to the point where the company has expanded its capacity and invested in new equipment. “Activewear continues to be strong with polyester but we’re doing more with polyester blends,” she said, pointing out that tri-blends, like polyester with cotton and Modal, are doing particularly well.

Sustainability is trending, too. “Any kind of product that’s recycled or repurposed is very hot right now, like recycled polyester blends, and we have a product that uses old denim blue jeans that’s very popular,” she said.

Elsewhere, LA’s Asher Fabric Concepts appeared on the Texworld show floor for the first time, presenting a collection of fabrics featuring a wide variety of Tencel, Modal and Viscose blends in a range of knits, while Vernon, California-based circular knitter SAS Textiles showcased SAS Sport, its new line of synthetic fabrics developed to feed the growing active, outdoor and lifestyle markets.