As it plans the next step in the development of its Naia cellulosic fiber introduced earlier this year, Eastman Chemical Company set up the Eastman Naia Lounge at Interfilière NYC trade show for the first time.
On display were garments made with Naia and blends of Naia and other fibers that show the versatility of the yarn for intimate and leisure apparel.
Jeroen B. Jacobs, global director of textile fibers at Eastman Chemical, noted that Naia is manufactured from wood pulp–it’s slogan is “From Nature to Fashion”– sourced from sustainably managed forests in the Americas, specifically pined wood and eucalyptus.
Cellulosic fibers such as Tencel and modal, both made by Lenzing Group, have seen above average production growth of 6 percent, one of the faster in the sector, according to the Fiber Year report.
“The polymer structure of Naia is different than some of the other cellulosic materials that allows for certain attributes,” Jacobs said in discussing those various aspects of the fiber.
For example, fabrics made with Naia are light and cool against the skin, with inherent moisture management.
“Fabrics made with Naia can have a high luster, shine and drape,” Jacobs said in an interview. “If the garment style demands it, Naia can also have a subtle matte finish instead. Fabrics made with Naia can also be easily printed with a richness of color, which is important in today’s market.”
Naia call also be easily blended with elastane, which is important in the innerwear and activewear markets, and with polyester, Tencel, viscose and nylon.
The first six months Naia’s development, according to Jacobs, was aimed at expanding the mill network. “Now in the next stage, it’s really going after the brands,” he said. “And several brands will have collections next year.”
Only Hearts was the first brand to have Naia in store and Uniqlo has a cardigan made with Naia selling in stores now.
After intimates, the Naia team is ready to go after new segments, like women’s ready-to-wear, lace and home furnishings.
[Read more about the global fiber market: What’s Surging & Slowing in the Global Fiber Sector]
Using a near-closed loop process at its factories in Tennessee, Eastman assures that any waste is recycled, reused or sold. Any water returned to source streams is treated at a high tech bioactive wastewater processing facility and repeatedly tested to ensure that the river receives safe water.
Naia has received certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred program. It is manufactured without chemicals listed on the ZDHC MRSL and holds a product Class II certification with the OEKO-TEX 100 label.
While Eastman was a long-time manufacturer of acetate and more recently the Avra polyester fiber, the segment still makes up a small part of the $9 billion company’s portfolio of advanced materials and specialty additives.
“Eastman is looking at textile market overall as an attractive market for us to play in,” Jacobs added. “It is expected to grow 3 to 4 percent over the next few years. We have gotten such a great reception from the whole value chain because we have introduced something new in the market.”